Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Reid Hartmann, Higher Levels - 8

Reid Hartmann's dad Frank coached for one school, but he decided to leave, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote.

His reason: His baseball playing son, The Post-Dispatch wrote.

"I really liked it (coaching) but I wanted to see my son play," Hartmann told The Post-Dispatch, after he eventually took a job coaching his son. "I figured it was one or the other."

The elder Hartmann eventually got to see his son play at higher levels. Reid Hartmann went on to play in college and in the pros. His pro career lasted three seasons. He never made the majors.

Hartmann's pro career began in 1988, taken by the Mets in the 41st round of the draft out of St. Louis Community College-Meramec. He played his high school at Mehlville High in St. Louis.

At Meramec, Hartman went 3 for 4 in a March 1987 game. He also knocked the game-winner. He hit .396 that year, then lost most of the next with a injured thumb.

He started with the Mets in 1988 in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He hit .239 in in 34 games.

Hartmann played 1989 at rookie Kingsport. He scored in a July game. He got into 66 games overall and hit .295.

He then played 1990 between single-A Columbia, high-A St. Lucie and AA Jackson. He saw Jackson for eight games and knocked a double in one contest. He hit a bases-loaded single at St. Lucie. He hit .218 in 78 games between the three levels to end his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,950
Made the Majors:1,092-37.0%
Never Made Majors:1,858-63.0%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 453
10+ Seasons in the Minors:273

Rodney Lofton, Bunt The Ball - 13

Originally published July 26, 2010
Rodney Lofton had speed. But he was reluctant to fully take advantage of it. That was essentially what the sentiment of his manager at AAA Rochester in 1992, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Rochester manager Jerry Nerron wanted Lofton to bunt more. Lofton wasn't so sure, The Sun wrote.

"If he gets on base," Narron told The Sun, "he'll play in the big leagues because of his ability to play defense and run the bases."

Whether it was Lofton's reluctance to bunt, or some other reason, Lofton never made it to the big leagues.

Lofton was playing in his fifth year of professional ball. He was drafted by the Orioles in the 13th round of the 1988 draft.

Beginning at short-season Erie, Lofton went on to play at single-A Frederick in 1989, making the Carolina League All-Star team that year.

Lofton made AA Hagerstown in 1990, getting his first taste of AAA Rochester that same year. Lofton was credited with stealing 27 bases that year. In May, The Schenectady Gazette noted Hagerstown's speed, citing Lofton and two other team members topping the stolen base list.

In 1991, that speed shined. Lofton, returning to Hagerstown, stole 56 bases for the Suns, making the Eastern League All-Star team. By early August, Lofton had 48 steals, 13 of those third base, according to The Sun. The previous team record was 38.

Lofton also hit a home run in August, notable in that he hadn't hit one before, in 1.385 at-bats since 1988, according to The Sun.

Lofton split 1992 between Hagerstown and Rochester, slowing down to 21 total steals. He also hit just .235 with Rochester and had an on-base percentage of .279.

It was enough for the Orioles to trade Lofton to the Reds. After a brief stay, Lofton moved on to the Brewers system, where he would end his career. His final year was 1995, with AAA New Orleans. He hit just .217 and stole only nine bases.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Dave Miller, Sinker Guy - 18

Years after his playing days ended, The Cleveland Plain Dealer asked Dave Miller what kind of pitcher he was.

"I was a sinker/slider guy," Miller told The Plain Dealer in 2012. "Jason Bere [Indians special assistant], when we go golfing, looks at my legs and says, 'You were a sinker guy.' I made it to Class AAA and had some shoulder injuries that derailed me, but I wanted to stay in the game."

Miller spoke to The Plain Dealer having stayed in the game by then for two decades as both a coach and coordinator. He also spoke to The Plain-Dealer having reached the spot he never could get to as a player, the majors, as 2012 bullpen coach for the Indians.

Miller's career in the game began 1986, taken by the Orioles in the first round of the January secondary draft out of Camden County College in New Jersey.

With the Orioles, Miller started at rookie Bluefield, going 6-4, with a 3.28 ERA over 13 starts. He returned to Bluefield for 1987, going 0-9 with a 5.49 ERA over 12 starts that season.

Miller moved to short-season Erie and single-A Hagerstown for 1988, then single-A Frederick for 1989. With Frederick, Miller went 13-4, with a 2.88 ERA. He picked up his final win in late August, with a 7-2 win over Prince William.

Miller moved to AA Hagerstown in 1990, he also turned into a reliever. In 24 outings, seven starts, Miller picked up seven saves and a 2.81 ERA.

Miller got his first look at AAA Rochester in 1991, a single game. For 1992, Miller got 25 outings at Hagerstown and 12 more at Rochester. That June, at Hagestown, Miller set down 14-straight in a loss. It was his final year as a player.

It was in 1993 that Miller started his coaching career, taking over as pitching coach with the Indians at rookie Burlington.

Miller has been with the Indians in one capacity or anther since, serving as a minor league pitching coach through 1999, then turning scout and major league bullpen coach. For 2013, Miller is back to being an Indians scout.

In April 2012, Miller recalled to The Plain Dealer watching over former Indians prospect Cliff Lee as Miller served as team minor league pitching coordinator.

"I once saw Cliff throw a 40-pitch bullpen session," Miller told The Plain Dealer. "When he was done, there was just one foot print on the mound. He'd landed in the same spot on every pitch. That's the sign of an athlete."

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Tim Howard, Long Time - 11

When Tim Howard returned stateside from two seasons in Taiwan, he expressed excitement to The Yuma Sun.

Howard had just signed on with the Yuma Bullfrogs of the independent Western League.

"It's been a long time since I've had any of my family or friends see me play," Howard told The Sun. "The first couple of games, I might have 200-300 fans from Brawley come to Yuma. I think they're itching to see me play."

Howard's family and friends had had plenty of opportunities to see Howard over the previous decade plus, but not as close. Regardless of that, they never had the opportunity to see Howard in the majors.

Howard's long career began in 1988, taken by the Mets in the fifth round of the draft out of Imperial Valley College in California.

Howard started with the Mets at rookie Kingsport. He hit .280 in 68 games. He then moved to short-season Pittsfield and single-A Columbia for 1989. He hit .281 between them.

He returned to Columbia for 1990 and hit .385 early in the year. He finished the year at .323. and hit AA Williamsport for part of 1991. He made AAA Norfolk in 1993, but didn't see Queens.

Howard moved to Mexico for 1994 and the played for the White Sox and Red Sox at AAA for 1995. He played three seasons at independent Amarillo, moved to Taiwan and played two seasons at independent Yuma in 2001 and 2002 to end his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,949
Made the Majors:1,092-37.0%
Never Made Majors:1,857-63.0%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 453
10+ Seasons in the Minors:273-X

Scott Meadows, Got Comfortable - 15

Originally published June 9, 2011
Promoted to AAA Rochester in mid-May 1991, Scott Meadows took off, The Baltimore Sun wrote.

He'd been told not to get comfortable, the call-up was only temporary, Orioles GM Doug Melvin told The Sun. But a .357 average helped make his case to stay.

"I was upset I didn't come here right out of spring training," Meadows told The Sun. "I know I can play at this level."

While Meadows knew, and proved, he could play at the AAA level, he never got the chance to prove he could play at the major league level. In a professional career that spanned seven seasons, Meadow never got called up to the majors.

Meadows' professional career began in July 1988, signed by the Orioles as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State.

With the Buckeyes in his hometown, Meadows won All-Big Ten honors in 1986 and claimed the school's season hits record in 1988, notching his 72nd by May 14, The Associated Press wrote.

Meadows played that first season, eight games, with single-A Hagerstown, going 3 for 8. In 1989, he stayed at single-A, playing at Frederick co-op Waterloo. He hit .291 between them with 47 RBIs.

Meadows jumped to AA for 1990, going back to the now higher-classified Hagerstown. There, he hit .293 with 75 RBIs. By May 11, Meadows lead the league in both categories, The Schenectady Gazette wrote.

Meadows returned to Hagerstown for 33 games in 1991, then made the jump to AAA. At Rochester, Meadows hit .329 with five home runs and 42 RBIs. He hit one of his home runs in a July contest.

Meadows's arrival, along with that of teammate Jack Voigt, rejuvenated Rochester, Rochester manager Greg Biagini told The Sarasota Herald-Tribune in July.

That offseason, Meadows looked to build upon his success and went to winter ball in the Dominican Republic braving the differences between playing ball there and in the U.S., The Sun wrote.

"Driving is insane," Meadows told The Sun of the Dominican Republic. "Especially at night. The lights are out half the time, and people just make their own way. The police are looking to stop you. The thing you learn is, just keep going. And if they stop you, don't give them your license. It'll cost you at last 200 pesos to get it back."

Coming back for 1992, though, the stint in winter ball didn't seem to help. His average at Rochester dropped to .264 and he only knocked in nine in 216 at bats. Meadows was sent back to AA.

"Hitting him in the middle of the order most of the year, we counted on him to drive in runs," Rochester manager Jerry Narron told The Sun after demoting Meadows. "He just hasn't done it."

With the demotion to Hagerstown, though, Meadows, started hitting again. By Aug. 9, Meadows was hitting .311 at AA, hitting .500 in one seven-game stretch, The Sun wrote.

By the end, Meadows hit .317 for Hagerstown with 14 RBIs. But it was his final year in affiliated ball. Meadows went on to finish out his playing career with two seasons in independent ball, with St. Paul and Duluth.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Bill Stein, His Role - 1

Bill Stein had a couple big nights for the Texas Rangers in June 1983, he knew his role, he told UPI that month.

"When I have a chance to play I want to produce and my chances of doing that are enhanced when the guys are on base for me," Stein told UPI. "But I'm not an everyday player. When Wayne Tolleson gets healthy, he'll be back at second and I'll be on the bench because I'm a utility player."

While Stein knew his role through a major league career that spanned 14 seasons, he took a different role later, as a minor league manager.

Stein's career in baseball began in 1969, taken by the Cardinals in the fourth round of the draft out of Southern Illinois University.

He started with the Cardinals at AAA Tulsa. He then played at AA Arkansas, returned to Tulsa and made St. Louis in 1972.

Stein got into 14 games for the Cardinals that year and 32 the next. He moved to the White Sox for 1974 and saw 13 games. After 76 games in 1975, Stein saw 100-plus games each of the next three seasons.

He hit .268 over 117 games in 1976, then .259 over a career-high 151 games with the Marines in 1977.

Stein continued playing in the majors each year through 1985. He moved to the Rangers for 1981 and set the American League record for most consecutive pinch hits with seven while playing for manager Don Zimmer.

"He was fun to be around," Stein told The Tulsa World years later. "Zim never had to tell me to pinch hit. Whenever we had the tying run in scoring position late, it was automatic. I had a bat and was ready to go. It didn't matter whether a lefty or right-hander was pitching."

Stein played his final five seasons with the Rangers. He started his managerial career by 1988, when he took over at short-season Little Falls. He moved to Columbia in 1989 and stayed for 1990. He managed at short-season Bend for 1991 and single-A Clinton for 1992 and then coached at AA Shreveport for 1993.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,948
Made the Majors:1,092-37.0%
Never Made Majors:1,856-63.0%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 453
10+ Seasons in the Minors:272

Paris Hayden, Baseball Gods - 11

Originally published April 5, 2013
Paris Hayden's American Legion team got a second chance and took advantage, all the way to the 2004 American Legion World Series.

Having just swept the regional that August, Hayden, coach of DeLand's Post 6 squad, could only marvel to The Orlando Sentinel at his team's success.

"The baseball gods are smiling on us," Hayden told The Sentinel. "You hear everybody say this, but this has been a complete team effort. Everybody came through in one or another."

Hayden spoke having had the baseball gods smile on him long enough to have a professional career that lasted five seasons, getting him as high AA. But those baseball gods couldn't get him to the majors.

Hayden's professional career began in 1986, taken by the Orioles in the first round of the June secondary draft, out of Indian River Community College.

With the Orioles, Hayden started at rookie Bluefield, hitting .303 in 62 games. He also hit eight home runs and stole nine bases.

For 1988, Hayden moved to short-season Erie. He hit .240 with five home runs over 50 games. In 1989, he made single-A Frederick, but hit just .208.

Hayden got his first look at AA in 1990 at Hagerstown. In 47 games, he hit .233. He then got 27 other games back at Frederick, hitting .296. It was his last season with the Orioles.

For 1991, Hayden moved to high-A Miami, an independent team. Over the season, he hit .229. That July, though, he picked up three hits, helping Miami to a 5-4 win.

Hayden went on to return to his hometown of DeLand, coaching his local American Legion team, coaching his team to that 2004 World Series appearance.

On DeLand's 2004 run, they getting past Spartanburg to win a birth in the regional finals. Hayden told The Spartanburg Herald-Journal how fortunate his team was to be there. That second chance came after his team came in fourth in the state tournament, but the teams above them couldn't go to the regionals.

"We've come from not even being supposed to be here, to being in the finals," Hayden told The Herald-Journal. "I told them before we left Florida to make the best of it because this situation only comes up once in a lifetime."

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