Sunday, January 20, 2019

Steve Monson, Tough Mentality - 22

Brewers assistant GM Bruce Manno had an opening at AA El Paso in 1989 and he looked at Stockton hurler Steve Monson to fill it, according to David Lamb's book "Stolen Season."

He thought Monson might get hit at El Paso, but he Manno ultimately decided to give Monson the shot, Lamb wrote.

"He's damn tough mentally," Manno told Lamb later of Monson. "Sometimes you put a kid like that in this environment, let him sink or swim, and he'll rise to the occasion."

Monson went up to El Paso and went 9-5, with a 5.68 ERA. He then returned to El Paso over the next two seasons, but he never made it higher.

Monson's career began in 1983, taken by the Phillies in the 23rd round of the draft out of Chesapeake High School in Maryland.

Monson is recorded as starting not as a pitcher, but as a catcher. He played 21 games at rookie Helena in 1983 and then 17 games in the rookie Gulf Coast League in 1984.

Monson then isn't credited as playing in 1985 or 1986. He then returned with the Brewers as a pitcher in 1987.
Monson went 10-1, with a 2.91 ERA at Helena, then 0-3, with a 6.32 ERA over 11 outings at single-A Beloit.

He moved to single-A Stockton for 1988. He went 14-4, with a 2.87 ERA. He picked up his seventh win in May against Reno.

Monson played at Stockton and then El Paso in 1989. Overall, he went 12-7, with a 4.83 ERA. He picked up a 12-4 win in August.

Back at El Paso in 1990, he started 20 games and ended with a 6.33 ERA. He picked up a win in April, giving up five hits over 6-plus innings against San Antonio, according to The El Paso Times.

"I didn't start out too well, but about halfway through the game, I began getting my fastball in more effectively," Monson told The Times afterward. These (San Antonio) guys love the fastball, so it was fun to challenge them.

Monson played 1991 between Stockton and El Paso. He went 10-6, with a 3.38 ERA between them to end his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,044
Made the Majors:1,119-36.8%
Never Made Majors:1,925-63.2%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 466
10+ Seasons in the Minors:276

Jim Campbell, High Pitches - 311

Originally published March 8, 2013
Jim Campbell made his major league debut, but it didn't go as he'd hoped.

Having started the year at AA Memphis, Campbell found himself in Kansas City by August. He also found himself going just 4.2 innings and giving up seven earned runs.

"We've been struggling for runs all season at Memphis and Omaha," Campbell told The Associated Press afterward. "I get up here and I get eight runs and I can't go five. I know I threw a lot of high pitches."

Campbell did get another start with the team. But that second start was also his last in the bigs, his major league career ending up consisting of just those two outings and no more.

Campbell's professional career began in 1987, taken by the Royals in the 32nd round of the draft, out of San Diego State University.

Campbell started with the Royals at short-season Eugene, getting 32 relief outings. He also picked up 10 saves.

That July, he spoke with The Eugene Register-Guard on the topic of beanballs. Campbell told the paper he would never throw at anyone's head.

"There are certain times when a pitcher wants to throw a ball high and tight," Campbell told The Register-Guard. "An 0-2 count, or after a home run. You try to keep a hitter honest."

Campbell jumped to AA Memphis for 1988, getting 53 relief outings and eight saves. He then stayed at Memphis for 1989, and then into 1990.

In 1990, though, Campbell also got his first look at AAA Omaha. He also switched to starting. He got 12 starts at Memphis, and four at Omaha. In August, he was starting in Kansas City.

After that poor start in his major league debut, Campbell's second start was better. This time, he went five full innings. He also gave up two runs - and earned the win.

Campbell didn't get another major league start, or another major league outing. For 1992, he returned to AAA Omaha, even getting time back at Memphis. Between them, he went 9-9 in 23 starts, 29 total outings.

In April, with Memphis, Campbell went seven scoreless, in a game Memphis went on to lose in extras.

"He (Campbell) was a smart pitcher," Orlando hitter Dave McCarty told The Orlando Sentinel. "He didn't come in with the same pitch all the time."

For 1993, Campbell again split time between Omaha and Memphis, but it was his final year as a pro, his career ending with season's end.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Rafael Skeete, Good Sense - 25

Rafael Skeete often swung late and sent foul balls speeding off to the third base stands, The El Paso Times wrote years later.

One of those balls happened to find El Paso's then mayor - and skim off her head, The Times wrote.

"She had a good sense of humor about it," Skeete said at the time, The Times wrote.

Skeete played at AA El Paso in 1989 and 1990, his fifth and sixth seasons as a pro. Though he got to play with major leaguers briefly in spring training, he never made the majors during the season.

Skeete's career began in 1985, signed by the Orioles as a free agent out of his native Sint Maarten in the Caribbean.

Skeete started with the Orioles at rookie Bluefield. He got into five games and went 1 for 8. He also had a brief 1986, playing 16 games at short-season Newark.

He played 1987 largely at single-A Hagerstown. He also saw 11 games at AA Charlotte. He hit .278 on the year and stole 41 bases.

Skeete returned for spring training 1988 and got to play with the major leaguers. He dressed with the big league team for two days. He played that year back at Charlotte. He hit .237, but stole 54 bases.

In spring 1989, he appeared in a game and helped tie the contest. He played the first half of the year at AA Hagerstown. The Brewers then purchased his contract in June and he arrived at El Paso.

He saw 49 games at El Paso in 1989 and hit .251. He returned there for all of 1990. He hit a double that tied a May game late. Overall, he hit .278 over 109 games to end his career.

In 2014, he spoke with Caribbean Radio Show. In February 2016, Skeete was back in Sint Maarten, coaching at a youth clinic.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,043
Made the Majors:1,119-36.8%
Never Made Majors:1,924-63.2%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 466
10+ Seasons in the Minors:276

Reuben Smiley, Next Time - 310

Originally published Feb. 11, 2013
Reuben Smiley finally got the notice of a scout, the scout coming out to watch him play. Smiley, though, started poorly, Smiley recalled later to The Los Angeles Times.

After a pop out, a ground out and a strike out, the scout called Smiley over: Smiley just needed to keep his eye on the ball, follow through, Smiley recalled to The Times.

"My next time up, I hit the second pitch for a home run," Smiley told The Times in June 1988, "and ever since then I thought I would be playing for him."

Smiley did go on to play for the scout, or at least the scout's organization, the Giants. The Giants went on to think highly enough of Smiles to take him in the third round of that year's draft. But, in a pro career that spanned a decade Smiley never got to play for the Giants in San Francisco, or any other major league team.

Smiley's pro career began that June, with the Giants taking him out of Los Angeles Community College.

Smiley, whose name has also been spelled Rueben Smiley, started with the Giants at rookie Pocatello. There, he got into 50 games, hitting .286. In one late-June game, Smiley picked up three hits and two RBI.

Smiley moved to single-A Clinton in 1989, then high-A San Jose in 1990. At San Jose, Smiley hit .266 with 25 stolen bases. The next year, at AA Shreveport, Smiley hit .230, but stole 36.

Smiley got his first look at AAA Phoenix in 1992, 17 games. He would return to Phoenix the next two seasons, hitting .300 each year. But the outfielder never got his call to San Francisco.

Smiley moved to the Padres and Royals organizations in 1995, but it was his last year of affiliated ball.

Smiley then played two seasons in the independent Western League, with Long Beach in 1996 and Mission Viejo in 1997, ending his career.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Shon Ashley, His Chance - 4

Shon Ashley headed off to rookie Helena in 1985 knowing the Brewers had confidence in his potential, according to The Associated Press.

The Brewers handed Ashley a sizable amount and told Ashley he should expect for or five years in the minors and that he stood a good chance of making the majors, he recounted to The AP.

"They wouldn’t have put that much money into me if they thought I didn't have a chance," Ashley told The AP.

Ashley went on to play eight seasons as a pro. He made AAA, but he never made the bigs.

Ashley's career began that year in 1985, taken by the Brewers in the third round of the draft out of Meridian High School in Idaho.

Ashley played his first season with the Brewers at Helena. He hit .295 in 46 games. He also stole eight bases.

He moved to single-A Beloit for 1986 and 1987. He hit .256 his first year there and .246 in his second.

Ashley then hit single-A Stockton for 1988. He told The Lodi News-Sentinel that July of the pressures minor league life created on his family. If it became obvious he wouldn't make the majors, he'd move on.

"It's hard on my wife," Ashley told The News-Sentinel. "She wants the kind of life where we own a house, not live out of a suitcase."

Ashley hit .266 at Stockton and moved up to AA El Paso in 1989. He hit .315 there, with 14 home runs.

That May, he put together a 14-game hitting streak, according to The El Paso Times. And he extended it to 14 on a home run.

"I've just been getting good pitches to hit," Ashley told The Times. "I got a few hits and started to not force things, just let it happen. That's when I hit best, when I don't force it or press."

Ashley returned to El Paso for 1990 and again in 1991. He hit .308 in 126 games in 1991, but he didn't see AAA.

He moved to the Expos system and AAA Indianapolis in 1992. He hit .227 in 58 games to end his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,042
Made the Majors:1,119-36.8%
Never Made Majors:1,923-63.2%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 466
10+ Seasons in the Minors:276

Sam Ferretti, Stuck With - 309

Originally published April 26, 2014
In his fifth season as a pro in 1991, Sam Ferretti had briefly made AAA but he had yet to make the majors.

To The Associated Press that July, Ferretti said he was ready to stick with it.

"As long as I see myself doing well ... I'll stay at it as long as they keep me and I keep maturing as a player," Ferretti told The AP.

Ferretti ended up sticking with it for two more seasons. He never made the majors.

Ferretti's career began in 1987, taken by the Indians in the 26th round of the draft out of Rutgers University.

At Rutgers, Ferretti knocked in three a May 1986 win. He hit .309 for the team that year, knocking in 37.

With the Indians, Ferretti started at rookie Burlington. He hit .268 in 48 games. He played most of 1988 at single-A Reno and single-A Waterloo. He also got 18 games at AAA Colorado Springs, where he hit .196.

He played 1989 at single-A Kinston, hitting .232. He also got five games at AA Canton-Akron. He then returned to Canton-Akron full time for 1990 and 1991. He hit .258 his first year at AA and .214 in his second.

In a July 1990 game, Ferretti recorded a double and a single, the single won the game. He had a double in a July win.

Ferretti moved to the Orioles system and AA Hagerstown for 1992. He played that year and the next at AA with the Orioles. In 1993, he hit .238 in 60 games. It was his final year in affiliated ball.

Years later, Ferretti is credited with returning to the field. In 2000, he got into 35 final games with independent Newark. He hit .227, ending his career.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Chris George, Solid Addition - 14

One of Chris George's 1992 baseball cards talked up his potential in the major leagues.

He'd seen two outings with the Brewers in Milwaukee the previous year and he looked to return in 1992.

"Tough and competitive, Chris just might be a solid addition to the Brewers bullpen in 1992,' the card read.

By the time that card came out, though, George's major league career was over. He played that year at AAA and returned for one more after that, but those two appearances in 1991 proved the extent of his big league career.

George's career began in 1988, taken by the Brewers in the seventh round of the draft out of Kent State University.

Prior to joining the Brewers, George played 1987 in the Alaska Baseball League. He also played the National Baseball League and the National Baseball Congress tournament.

George started with the Brewers at single-A Beloit. He went 7-4 over 22 outings, four starts. He saved six games.

He moved to single-A Stockton in 1989. He saved 22 over 55 games and went 7-7. For 1990, he played at AA El Paso and AAA Denver. He picked up 13 saves at El Paso.

In May, he spoke to The El Paso Times about difficulties he'd had with periods of rapid heartbeats. He tried not to worry about it.

"I go day to day," George told The Times. "I live for today and worry about tomorrow later. If there's something wrong, I'll treat it with medication. I'm not going to worry about it because it's out of my control."

George played 1991 back at Denver. The reliever went a 16-game stretch where he gave up a single earned run. That September, he got his call up to Milwaukee.

He played both his major league games in October. He debuted Oct. 1 as a starter. He went five innings and gave up two earned runs. He then pitched an inning of relief Oct. 5 to round out his big league career.

George returned to Denver for 1992. He got into 12 games and started eight. He missed all of 1993, then returned for 1994 at AAA and AA to close out his playing career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,041
Made the Majors:1,119-36.8%-X
Never Made Majors:1,922-63.2%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 466
10+ Seasons in the Minors:276


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