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Friday, December 13, 2019

Troy Ricker hit two home runs in 1989 West Palm Beach game; Played nine seasons, had brief stint at AAA

Originally published Dec. 14, 2013
Troy Ricker picked up two hits in this August 1989 game for single-A West Palm Beach and both of them were big hits.

Both of the hits were home runs, one of them a three-run shot, Ricker helping lead West Palm Beach to an 11-1 win, according to The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Ricker was in his fifth season as a pro that year, four of those in the Expos system. He went on to play in a total of nine seasons, but made it above high-A just once, a nine-game stint at AAA in his final season. He never made the majors.

Ricker's professional career began in 1985, signing with independent Utica of the New York-Penn League out of his native California.

At Utica, the outfielder Ricker got into 34 games, hitting .127 with 9 RBI. But he also played well enough to catch the eye of the Expos, signing with Montreal for 1986.

Ricker played his first season with the Expos at short-season Jamestown, returning there for 1987. He hit .193 his first year there and .258 his second.

He moved to single-A Rockford for 1988, hitting .240, then single-A West Palm Beach for 1989, hitting just .177. At Rockford, Rickert hit 16 home runs, a career high. He hit one of them in a July game. At West Palm Beach, Ricker's home run total returned to seven.

Ricker picked up his second home run of 1989 in an early May contest, a 7-4 win. Despite his average, Ricker picked up four hits in one game, a June win.

For 1990, Ricker seemingly tried to find a new path up the Expos chain, after another stint at Rockford. He returned to Jamestown, as a pitcher. He got into 17 games, one start, with a 4.11 ERA.

It was back to the outfield and West Palm Beach for 1991. It was his final year in the Expos system.

Ricker played two more seasons, 1992 with the Twins at high-A Visalia and then 36 games in 1993 with the Rockies. Nine of those 1993 games came at AAA Colorado Springs, his only time above high-A. It was his final year as a pro.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,251
Made the Majors:1,172-36.1%
Never Made Majors:2,079-63.9%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 484
10+ Seasons in the Minors:285

Jose Castro played 13 pro seasons, never made the majors; He's coached for longer, now with Braves in Atlanta

Read the October 2014 interview: Jose Castro, The Maximum

Originally published Jan. 24, 2011; Updated December 2019
Jose Castro didn't start playing baseball until he was 13, he told The Chicago Tribune as spring 1985 wound down. That was seven years after he and his family came to the United States on a boat, fleeing Cuba.

"Ever since then," Castro told The Tribune of the time he started playing the game, "it's been my dream. I used to go to the stadium in Miami to watch the Orioles. Tonight, I get to go on the same field and play against them. Unbelievable.

"My dad is more excited even than I am," Castro told The Tribune. "It was hard on him and my mom, starting a new life in the States, not knowing the language. But if we hadn't left Cuba, I would never have this chance. I would never have met my wife, an American girl. I would never have done a lot of things."

Castro spoke to The Tribune, one of the candidates for the White Sox' final roster spots. Castro didn't make it that year. He didn't make it in any of his 14 minor league seasons.

But he did make it, years later, in one brief stint as hitting coach for the Seattle Mariners, and later as a major league coach with the Cubs and, most recently, the Braves.

Castro's career began in 1977, selected by the Phillies in the 27th round out of high school. He played that year at short-season Auburn, the next at single-A Spartanburg. At Spartanburg, Castro hit .280 with nine home runs.

His fifth home run came in a June game, a three-run shot. He also had a two-run double. He only had one home run in his first campaign, The Spartanburg Herald-Journal noted.

"I've been waiting more on the pitch and holding my hands back a little. I've got some power in me," Castro, then 5-feet, 9-inches and 155 pounds, told The Herald-Journal laughing, "but with my size, I've just got to hit it right."

The next year, Castro got his first look at AA, at Reading. He had three hits and three RBIs in one August 1980 game for Reading.

In 1981, Castro got his first look at AAA, at Oklahoma City, hitting his ninth of 11 home runs in a July game. Through five different organizations, Castro would stay at AAA the rest of his playing career, amounting to 10 seasons at the doorstep to the majors.

He hit a two-run single in a June 1982 game for he White Sox' Edmonton AAA team. In an August 1983 game, Castro hit two home runs for the White Sox' Denver AAA team.

In 1984, Castro made the All-Star team with Denver, hitting .316 with 12 home runs. The next spring, he made it to the end of camp with a shot to make the White Sox roster, The Tribune wrote. But he didn't make it.

There was even talk May 17 that Castro would be brought up, if infielder Julio Cruz went on the DL, The Tribune wrote. Cruz didn't return until June 4. But Castro never got the call.

Instead, it was back to the White Sox' AAA team, then in Buffalo. Castro's numbers dropped that year at Buffalo. He hit just .240 with eight home runs. It was his last of four seasons with the White Sox system. He went on to spent two seasons at AAA for the Blue Jays, then two more at AAA for the Royals.

For 1990, the 32-year-old signed on with the Expos, playing at AAA Indianapolis. Castro played 19 games before being released in May.

"I've played this game for 14 years," Castro told friend Steve Fireovid after his release, according to Fireovid's diary of that season The 26th Man. "I always knew someday it'd be over. I guess that's today."

That's when Castro's next career started. Castro was given the option to coach the Expos' rookie league team in West Palm Beach, Fireovid wrote. He went on coach AA Portland in 1994, AAA Ottawa in 2002 and, in 2008, serve as hitting coach for the Seattle Mariners.

In 2010, Castro served as manager for the Mariner's AAA club in Tacoma, gauging how long other players might be away from the majors.

"(Dustin) Ackley is a true professional, in all the meaning of that word," Castro told The Seattle Times of the Mariners' prospect. "He comes to the park, prepares himself — and the boy can hit. He's going to be a good one at the major-league level."

Castro returned to the majors in 2014 as quality assurance coach with the Cubs (when The Greatest 21 Days caught up with him for an interview.) He then joined the Braves in 2015 as assistant hitting coach, a job in which he continued in 2019.

Read the October 2014 interview: Jose Castro, The Maximum 
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,251
Made the Majors:1,172-36.1%
Never Made Majors:2,079-63.9%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 484
10+ Seasons in the Minors:285

Scott Wilson went from coach to trainer to coach again; Became an all-star trainer twice

Originally published May 15, 2016
Scott Wilson went from coach to trainer to coach again, according to The Los Angeles Times.

After serving as a junior varsity baseball coach in Orange County, Ca., Wilson joined the Giants as a minor league trainer. He spent four seasons there before returning to the high school ranks in October 1992 as coach at Villa Park High School in California, The Times wrote.

In between, Wilson served as an All-Star trainer twice.

Wilson's professional career started out of Chapman College, where he graduated in 1986 with a degree in sports medicine, according to his Best card.

At Chapman, Wilson also handled medical responsibilities for the school's basketball and tennis teams, his Best card reads. He also served as coach at the Orange County high school.

He joined the Giants as a minor league trainer in 1988. He started at San Jose for 1989 and returned there for 1990. He made the 1989 California League All-Star game as trainer for the Northern Division.

Wilson made his second All-Star team in in 1991 during his third season at San Jose. He returned to the Giants system as a trainer for 1992, then took that high school coaching job, ending his minor league training career.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Q.V. Lowe still loved the game after nearly 50 years in it; Coached in college, minors and bigs

Q.V. Lowe looked back on his long career in 2014 and felt satisfied, according to The Montgomery Advertiser.

Lowe spoke on the occasion of his retirement as manager at Auburn University at Montgomery, a position he'd held since 1987. Along the way, he managed several summers in the Expos system and even started as a player himself in the minors.

"I've been coaching 45, 48 years. I still love the game and especially love the kids I have out here," Lowe told The Advertiser that May. "I just think it's time to move on. I think I deserve to be able go fishing or sit back and watch a game without worrying about winning and losing."

An Alabama native, his home state sports community honored him in late-2019 with the announcement that he would be inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

Lowe's long career in baseball began as a player in 1967, taken by the Cubs in the 19th round of the draft out of Auburn University. Lowe is also credited as QV Lowe.

Lowe's playing career lasted five seasons. He started at single-A Lodi, then made AA San Antonio in 1968. He stayed at San Antonio for four seasons, through 1971 and the end of his playing days.

Lowe then jumped into coaching - in Chicago. Lowe served as Cubs bullpen coach in 1972, before moving to the minors.

He managed 1973 and 1974 in the rookie Gulf Coast League. By 1982, he was with the Yankees at short-season Oneonta as pitching coach. In 1984, he served as pitching coach at AAA Columbus.

Lowe then joined the Expos system in 1986 as pitching coach at AA Jacksonville. In 1987, he added Auburn University at Montgomery to his plate.

With the Expos, Lowe served as a minor league coach through at least 1992, when he took over as manager at short-season Jamestown.

Author George Gmelch visited Lowe in 1991 and 1992 for Gmelch's book "In the Ballpark: The Working Lives of Baseball People." Lowe served as Jamestown's pitching coach in 1991 and in previous seasons.

Lowe spoke to Gmelch about his childhood in Florida, start in baseball and run through the minors and year in the majors as a coach.

Gmelch also described the man he interviewed as having "the look of a marine drill sergeant - close-cropped hair, thick chest and arms, conservative dress, and a no-nonsense manner - which belie the open-minded, sensitive, and thinking man that he is."

At Auburn University at Montgomery, Lowe quickly built a baseball team - from nothing. He headed up the school's first team. He even helped build their field.

Over the ensuing 28 seasons, Lowe amassed 1,063 wins against 588 defeats and won 30 or more games 21 times. He also saw 25 players off to the pros.

Early on in his tenure, in 1990, one of Lowe's players, Dandy Smith, described the start and Lowe's influence in comments to The Lewiston Tribune.

''It was hard that first year. We only won seven games,'' Smith told The Tribune then. ''But I felt like we were going to get better. Coach Lowe didn't really say anything to us about it, but his actions told us.''

Lowe's formal induction into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame is set for May 2020.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,251
Made the Majors:1,172-36.1%
Never Made Majors:2,079-63.9%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 484
10+ Seasons in the Minors:285

Adell Davenport broke out of a collegiate summer ball slump; Played eight pro seasons

Originally published Jan. 8, 2011
Adell Davenport's team had been in a slump. But Davenport himself had been in a longer one, The Anchorage Daily News wrote.

Up until this summer collegiate league game in July 1987, Davenport had only four hits in 39 at bats, according to The Daily News. This game, he hit two doubles, knocked in three and helped his Anchorage Glacier Pilots to a win.

"I've been going up every game thinking 'What am I going to do this time? Am I going to hit?' I was trying too hard, putting too much pressure on myself." Davenport told The Daily News. "This is the first time I said 'I'm going to get a hit.'"

Davenport was playing in the Alaska Baseball League in summer 1987, in between stints with his college club at Southern University. That past spring, Davenport had hit .407 with 19 home runs for the Jaguars by the regionals, according to The Los Angeles Times.

By late May of 1988, Davenport was hitting .400 again for Southern and had another 15 home runs. That June, Davenport was selected out of the 18th round of the draft by the Giants.

He played his first season at short-season Everett. His average came down to .236 with five home runs. He also struck out 65 times, three of those coming in a June game. In that game, he struck out twice with runners in scoring position, The Spokane Chronicle wrote.

He hit one of his home runs in a July game to help Everett to a win, according to The Eugene Register-Guard.

Davenport hit single-A Clinton in 1989, then high-A San Jose in 1990, hitting .236 and .251 respectively. He first hit AA Shreveport in 1991, returning for 1992. He hit .288 that second season, with 19 home runs.

In 1993, Davenport got his only look at AAA, a 14-game stint with Phoenix. He went 12 for 40. It was his final year with the Giants system.

He signed with the Twins for 1994, playing the year at AA Nashville. With the Xpress, Davenport hit just .236, but had 20 home runs. One of those home runs came in a late August win.

The next spring, Davenport signed on with the Indians, as a replacement player. He doubled in a mid-March game and a sacrifice fly in another.

The strike over, Davenport returned to the minors, playing nine games at AA Canton. He played the rest of the season, his last, at independent Sioux Falls. His career ended after eight seasons, without making the majors.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Ranbir Grewal led his college team in wins and ERA; Played five pro seasons, twice made AAA

Ranbir Grewal led his Fresno State Bulldogs in multiple pitching categories in 1990, two desired categories and one not, according to Fresno State Fact Book numbers.

Grewal recorded 10 wins for the Bulldogs and a 3.08 ERA, both marks no teammate beat that year. But he also showed some control issues, throwing 16 wild pitches that year that is now tied for the highest all-time at the school, the fact book reads.

Grewal took those numbers from Fresno State on to the pros. His pro career lasted five seasons. He briefly saw AAA twice, but he never saw the majors.

Grewal's pro career began that year in 1990, taken by the Expos in the 26th round of the draft out of Fresno State.

Grewal started with the Expos at short-season Jamestown. He went 0-3 over 19 outings, one start, with a 2.72 ERA.

He moved to single-A Rockford for 1991, where he went 11-2, with a 2.98 ERA. He picked up his fourth win in a May contest.

Grewal also got his first brief look at AAA in 1991, two outings at Indianapolis. He gave up two hits over three innings of work, but no runs.

He played 1992 at high-A West Palm Beach. He also saw one more game at Indianapolis. He gave up three earned in 1.2 innings of work. That season marked his last in affiliated ball.

Grewal then moved to independent St. Paul for 1993. He went 5-5, with a 3.86 ERA in 1993. He then returned for 1994, where he went 2-2, with a 4.55 ERA. Released that August, that season marked the last of his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,250
Made the Majors:1,171-36.0%
Never Made Majors:2,079-64.0%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 484
10+ Seasons in the Minors:285

Rafael Diaz returned from Mexico with a new chance in 1997; Played as a pro a long time, never made bigs

After spending a season in Mexico and pitching well, Rafael Diaz moved back stateside for spring 1997 and a new chance with the White Sox, according to one account.

The account included the hopeful prediction that, after going 15-1 the previous year, Diaz could challenge for the club's fifth starting spot.

Diaz, though, never made the White Sox that year and, in a career that spanned at least 15 seasons, he never made the majors. Diaz topped out at AAA. He also got a brief look at Japan and a long stint in Mexico.

Diaz' career began in 1999, signed by the Expos out of California. He's listed as a native of Quades, Mexico, but his card lists him as having played at Bell High School in California and Cerritos College claims him as an alum.

Diaz started with the Expos in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He went 2-8, with a 3.67 ERA there. He then moved to short-season Jamestown for 1990. He picked up his third save of the year in late-June, then threw a three-inning save in mid-July.

Diaz made single-A Rockford in 1991. He threw a complete-game, three-hitter in an August contest. He went 4-6 overall, with a 3.23 ERA.

He arrived at high-A West Palm Beach for 1992 and got a one-game look at AAA Indianapolis. He made Harrisburg for all of  1993 and much of 1994. In a June 1994 game, he retired the first nine batters he faced, but then gave up a home run and his team took the loss.

Diaz saw seven outings at AAA Ottawa in 1994 and another 32 there in 1995. Diaz then moved to Mexico.

He went 14-1 for Monterrey in 1996, with a 2.41 ERA. He played there through 1999, when he tried his hand at Japan. He got into seven games for Seibu in 2000. He gave up seven earned in 8.1 innings.

Diaz returned to Monterrey for 2001 and moved to Saltillo for 2003. According to Baseball-Reference's Bullpen, Diaz continued pitching in Mexico through 2009.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,249
Made the Majors:1,171-36.0%
Never Made Majors:2,078-64.0%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 484
10+ Seasons in the Minors:285-X
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