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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Will Taylor turned switch-hitter, saw eight pro seasons; Eighth came nine years after last

The Padres hoped to expand Will Taylor's skill set in 1988, but he got off to a slow start, his hometown Alexandria Town Talk wrote.

The Padres did so by moving to make the speedy outfielder a switch-hitter, The Town Talk wrote.

"I didn't understand it (the switch, but now I do," Taylor told The Town Talk in April 1989. "Last year I had a lot of ups and downs, but now I'm making contact every time up."

Taylor went on from that experiment to play in five more pro seasons. He made AAA, but he fell short of the majors.

Taylor's career began in 1986, taken by the Padres in the second round of the draft out of Alexandria High in Louisiana. He was also credited as William Taylor.

He started with the Padres at short-season Spokane. He hit .282 in 59 games. He then moved to single-A Charleston for 1987. He hit .288 over 120 games and stole 56 bases.

Taylor then made single-A Riverside for 1988 and the switch-hitting experiment. He hit .183 over 112 games. He returned to Riverside for 1989 and upped his average to .255 and swiped 60.

He made AA Wichita for 1990, then AAA Las Vegas in 1991. He hit .259 at Las Vegas and stole 62. But he didn't see San Diego.

Taylor started 1992 at Las Vegas, then moved to the Mariners system. He briefly saw AAA Calgary with them, but then got shipped to high-A Peninsula.

That spring, he thought he might have a shot at making the majors, The Newport News Daily Press wrote. Instead, he eventually found himself at high-A.

''I'll tell you, I'm just praying for better luck next year,'' Taylor told The Daily Press. ''If I had this year to do over, there's a lot of things I'd do differently. Right now, I can play, but I'm just trying to do whatever I can to take care of my body.''

Taylor hit .223 in 64 games at Peninsula. He didn't return for 1993. He made a brief trip to Japan, but didn't return to field until nine years later, in 2001, in the independent All-American League. He played at Baton Rouge and Alexandria. 

"The way I left, everybody wondered why I didn't go back," Taylor told The Town Talk in July 2001. "I wanted to stay at home and be with my family, but I missed baseball. I wanted to see if I still have it. I think I've played good."

Taylor hit .270 in 55 total games that year to end his career.

1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,486
Made the Majors:1,216-34.9%
Never Made Majors:2,270-65.1%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:504
10+ Seasons in the Minors:299

Ricky Bones used luck and opportunity over his 11-season major league career; Now ML coach

Originally published March 28, 2020
A season and a half after the Padres sent him to the Brewers in the Gary Sheffield trade, Ricky Bones found himself at the Mid-Summer Classic, the All-Star game. 

He made it there with a 7-7 record and an ERA of 3.84, good for seventh-best in the league, according to The Tampa Bay Times.

"It's a matter of time and luck and opportunity," Bones said, according to The Times, "and I guess this is my time."

Bones made that all-star game in his fourth major league season. Though he would not be an all-star again, Bones went on to play in a total of 11 major league campaigns. He's also gone on to return to he majors as a coach.

Bones' career began in 1986, signed by the Padres as a free agent out of his native Puerto Rico.

Bones started with the Padres at short-season Spokane. He made single-A Charleston in 1987, then AA Wichita in 1989. He got his first look at AAA Las Vegas in 1990.

Then, in August 1991, Bones debuted in San Diego. He got 11 starts down the stretch, went 4-6, with a 4.83 ERA. The Padres then traded him to the Brewers.

He became a regular with the Brewers. He went 9-10, with a 4.57 ERA in 1992, then 11-11 in 1993 and 10-9, with a 3.43 ERA in his all-star 1994 campaign.

In May 1995, The Baltimore Sun referred to Bones as the Brewers' "newfound ace" as Bones pitched into the eighth inning against the Orioles, gave up two hits and no runs.

"I was lucky," Bones told The Sun afterward. "I made some pretty good pitches and got a lot of ground balls when I needed them."

Bones went 10-12 for the Brewers that year, then 7-14 in 1996 before being sent to the Yankees for the final month of the year.

He then played 1997 between the Reds and the Royals and 1998 fully with the Royals as he turned to full-time relief. He saw 30 relief outings with the Orioles in 1999, then 56 outings with the Marlins in 2000 and 61 final outings with Florida in 2001. He went 4-4, with a 5.06 ERA in his final campaign.

After another season in the minors and final games in Mexico, Bones turned to coaching. By 2004, he was a coach at single-A Savannah. He coached at AA Binghamton in 2008, then arrived for three seasons at AAA Buffalo in 2009.

In 2012, he returned to the majors as bullpen coach, a job he has held in all but one season since, and continue to hold in 2020.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,485
Made the Majors:1,216-34.9%
Never Made Majors:2,269-65.1%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:504
10+ Seasons in the Minors:299

Friday, October 23, 2020

Dan Walters made bigs, then turned to policing; Later was shot aiding to another officer, has since passed

Called up to the Padres in June 1992, catcher Dan Walters knew his role on the team, according to The  North County Times

He knew he couldn't take the place of regular San Diego catcher Benito Santiago, even after a performance where hit a triple and his first major league home run to help the Padres to a win, The Times wrote.

"I'm not really concerning myself with Benny," Walters told The Times. "He's the best, no doubt about it. All I can do is do my job."

Walters did his job in the majors that year and the next. Later, he went on to a different job, a job as a San Diego Police officer

Then, while doing that job, the night of Nov. 12, 2003, Walters suffered injuries that would eventually take his life.

That night, after encountering a gunman at a domestic violence scene, Walters came to another officer's aid and was shot in the neck. The shooting left him injuries that paralyzed him and, nearly 17 years later, ultimately took his life.

"Dan grew up locally, played professional baseball here in San Diego and proudly served his city as a police officer," the San Diego Police Department said in a statement upon his passing in April 2020, according to The Associated Press. "He will forever be remembered by the members of this Department."

Walters' path to the majors and then to to the San Diego PD began in 1984, taken by the Astros in the fifth round of the draft out of Santana High School in Santee, Ca.

Walters started with the Astros at short-season Auburn and single-A Asheville. The catcher hit .180 over 59 games. He made AA Columbus in 1988 and he briefly saw AAA Tucson. 

Then, for 1989, the Astros sent him to the Padres in a trade. He played most of that year at AA Wichita and then split 1990 between Wichita and AAA Las Vegas. He played 1991 back at Las Vegas and started 1992 there. 

In June 1992, he got his call to the bigs. Upon his arrival, Padres scouting director Reggie Waller, who also worked with Houston when they originally drafted Walters, spoke to The Los Angeles Times about Walters' path to the sport's highest rung. 

"Most people never thought he'd spend a day in the majors," Waller told The LA Times then, "but he had this fight in him. This toughness. This determination."

Walters got into 57 games for the Padres that year. He hit .251, with four home runs. He then returned there for 27 final big league games in 1993.

He returned to play two more seasons in the minors, at AAA with the Rockies and Athletics in 1995 and 1996 to end his playing career.

Then, in 1998, he became a police officer. Years later, The San Diego Union-Tribune spoke with Walters and Walters cited helping people, including getting women and children to shelters, as among his best moments on as an officer.

He also recounted to The Union-Tribune the night he got shot, as he came upon a domestic scene as another officer took fire. A confrontation led to a scuffle and the suspect fired.

"When I came to, for all I knew, I was dead," Walters told The Union-Tribune. "I guess I'd been out a few minutes, and then I woke up and there's chaos in the street: fire engines, red lights flashing, cops running all over the place and I woke up and it's like, 'Oh, s---! I can't move.'"

But he survived, though paralyzed largely from neck down. Upon his passing in 2020, The Union-Tribune quoted Bruce Bochy, a coach with the Padres during Walters' time with the club.

Bochy called Walters' story tragic and Walters a terrific person and great teammate who could catch and throw, The Union-Tribune wrote

"This is a sad story," Bochy told The Union-Tribune, "of a man who was serving his community as a policeman."

Players/Coaches Featured:3,485
Made the Majors:1,216-34.9%-X
Never Made Majors:2,269-65.1%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:504
10+ Seasons in the Minors:299

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Juan Villanueva wanted to play baseball, did so over seven seasons; Made AA

The game on the line this night in May 1990, Wichita Wrangler Juan Villanueva took one high and inside. Then he struck out, The Jackson Clarion-Ledger wrote.

The high-and-tight pitch soon led to an after-game brawl, The Clarion-Ledger wrote.

"I didn't mind being pitched inside, but it was the way he looked at me," Villanueva told The Clarion-Ledger of the pitcher. "He said something, and I asked him what he said. I want to play baseball, not fight."

Villanueva ultimately continued playing baseball another day. That season, though, proved his last as a pro. He played in seven total campaigns and topped out at AA.

Villanueva's career began in 1984, signed by the Mets as an undrafted free agent out of his native Dominican Republic.

Villanueva started with the Mets at rookie Kingsport. He hit .273 over 37 games. He then moved to single-A Columbia for 1985 and then returned there for 1986, with some time at single-A Lynchburg. He hit .268 over that year.

He played 1987 completely at Lynchburg and 1988 at single-A St. Lucie and AA Jackson. At St. Lucie in June 1988, Villanueva missed a possible double play ball, resulting in the only run scored on the night, The Palm Beach Post wrote.

"I just lost it," Villanueva explained to The Post afterward. "It was between the runner and the base, and I just couldn't get it. It was right in my hands, I just lost it."

He started 1989 back at Jackson, then signed with the Padres mid-season and played at single-A Riverside. He moved to AA Wichita for 1990. He hit .240 over 105 games that year to end his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,484
Made the Majors:1,215-34.9%
Never Made Majors:2,269-65.1%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:504
10+ Seasons in the Minors:299

Todd Hansen knew he had to pitch well in 1987 start; Saw pros over seven seasons, made AA

Todd Hansen had been a hard-luck pitcher for the Bend Phillies, The Salem Statesman Journal wrote in August 1987. 

But this night, against a pitcher that seemed too good for the league, Hansen came out with the 5-0 win, The Statesman Journal wrote.

"I knew I had to pitch well, because he (the opposing pitcher) doesn't belong in this league the way he was pitching," Hansen told The Statesman Journal afterward. "I tried to keep the guys before the three and four hitters off base, so if they hit one out, it's only one run."

Hansen pitched that year in his fourth season as a pro. He went on to pitch in three more. He topped out at AA.

Hansen's career began in 1984, taken by the Pirates in the 17th round of the draft out of Idaho Falls High School.

In high school, Hansen and a teammate drew praise from an opposing coach after Hansen and the other pitcher helped Idaho Falls to a pair of wins, according to The Twin Falls Times-News.

"(Pitchers Greg) Talamantez and (Todd) Hansen were everything we'd heard they are," Twin Falls  coach Bill Ingram told The Times-News.

With the Pirates, Hansen started in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He went 4-6, with a 3.06 ERA. He moved to short-season Watertown, where he went 2-6, with a 6.08 ERA,

He split 1986 between single-A Macon and short-season Tri-Cities, then 1987 between Macon with the Pirates and short-season Bend with the Phillies. He went 5-7, with a 4.01 ERA that year.

Hansen then moved to the Padres system for 1988. He played that year at single-A Charleston. He went 13-11, with a 2.25 ERA at Charleston.

He played 1989 at single-A Riverside, then hit AA Wichita for 1990. He went 6-3 over 27 outings, eight starts, with a 4.67 ERA to end his career.

1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,483
Made the Majors:1,215-34.9%
Never Made Majors:2,268-65.1%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:504
10+ Seasons in the Minors:299

Monday, October 19, 2020

1990 Bakersfield Dodgers - High-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers

Features on each member of the 1990 Bakersfield Dodgers, high-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, as included in that year's team set.

Bakersfield Dodgers (32)

  1. Billy Ashley worked to prove he was a big leaguer over seven major league seasons, 9/28/20
  2. Bryan Baar returned from slump to make AAA; Saw four pro seasons, missed bigs, 9/20/20
  3. Tim Barker played decade in minors, got traded straight-up for Tim Wallach, 9/11/20
  4. Bryan Beals created runs in high school; Played  three pro seasons, made high-A, 10/16/20
  5. Tom Beyers coached and managed and watched guys move up in minors over three decades, 9/19/20
  6. Scott Bishop played two seasons in the minors, then returned for two in independent ball, 9/23/20
  7. John Braase helped keep college team's season alive; Played three pro seasons, made high-A, 10/16.20
  8. Jason Brosnan made an early bid for no-hitter in rookie ball; His bid for bigs lasted 14 seasons, never made it, 10/9/20
  9. Rich Crane took his pitch selectivity from college to the pros, saw three pro seasons, 9/22/20
  10. John Deutsch went from undrafted to fifth-rounder, then got his chance over five seasons; Made AA, 10/10/20
  11. Gary Forrester made early contact, got first pro hit; Saw three seasons, made high-A, 10/4/20
  12. Mike Frame returned from spike in his pitching hand to play as pro; Saw two seasons, 10/17/20
  13. Anthony Garcia served as a trainer in baseball, soccer, boxing and high school, 9/23/20
  14. Tom Goodwin's speed in college made him a first-rounder, big leaguer over 14 seasons, 9/15/20
  15. Goose Gregson has shown tremendous work ethic, energy over nearly five decades in game, 9/22/20
  16. Tony Helmick worked to outsmart hitters; Did so in the pros over three seasons, made high-A, 9/23/20
  17. Matt Howard took his double play skills to bigs in eighth season; Helped Mariano Rivera to first ML save, 9/12/20 
  18. Frank Humber moved from Canada to Florida in HS to catch scouts; Played two pro seasons, made Olympics, 10/2/20
  19. Kiki Jones started with high hopes as first-rounder, then injuries hit; Made AA, 9/24/20
  20. Billy Lott impressed enough in high school for second round; Played nine seasons, made AAA, 10/15/20
  21. Brett Magnusson got invited to try out for Olympics; Played in seven pro seasons, coached, 9/25/20
  22. Jamie McAndrew got picked in first round; Later made bigs, but under less-than-expected circumstances, 9/21/20
  23. Brock McMurray looked forward to moving up despite injuries; Topped out at high-A, 9/25/20
  24. Baltazar Mesa played three pro seasons, started an academy, then went to prison for drug trafficking, 9/18/20
  25. Chris Morrow made it back from a sprained shoulder to play eight pro seasons, 10/14/20
  26. Jose Munoz waited nine full seasons to make the bigs; Made it for 17 games, found it great, 9/19/20
  27. Steve O'Donnell used advice from his manager over four pro seasons; Made high-A, 10/13/20
  28. Barry Parisotto saw five pro seasons, played in Olympics for Canada, later made career in produce, 9/13/20
  29. Mike Potthoff hoped he'd be back from elbow injury at high-A; Returned only briefly, saw three seasons, 9/18/20
  30. Napoleon Robinson saw a pitch get away and impact his first year; Played six seasons, made AAA, 10/17/20
  31. Fausto Tatis ended a 1991 win with a strikeout; Played three pro seasons, made high-A, 10/16/20
  32. Garrett Teel got his shot but majors didn't happen, then turned coach and instructor, 10/5/20

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Napoleon Robinson saw a pitch get away and impact his first year; Played six seasons, made AAA

A Napoleon Robinson pitch got away from him in rookie ball in 1988 and struck the batter in the eye, The Salem Statesman Journal wrote.

The pitch ended the batter's career and also psychologically impacted Robinson, Dodgers pitching instructor Dave Wallace told The Statesman Journal in 1989.

"I think that set him back last year," Wallace told The Statesman Journal that July as Robinson pitched at short-season Salem. "He wasn't the same guy for about 1-1 1/2 months. ... He came back this spring and was throwing well."

Robinson did come back and he eventually threw well enough to make AAA by 1992. But, in a career that spanned six seasons, he never made the majors.

Robinson's career began in 1988, taken by the Dodgers in the 34th round of the draft out of Columbus State University in Georgia. Robinson was also credited as Nap Robinson and as Pokey Robinson.

Robinson started with the Dodgers in the rookie Gulf Coast League. Despite his issues with that pitch, he saw time in 24 games and ended with a 1.36 ERA and nine saves.

He then moved to Salem for 1989, where he saved six and ended with a 3.50 ERA. He made high-A Bakersfield for 1990, then moved to the Braves system in the Rule 5 draft for 1991.

The Braves assigned Robinson to AA Greenville for 1991, moved him to starter and he had a career year. He went 16-6, with a 2.27 ERA over 28 starts. 

"There is no doubt he has been our most consistent starter," Greenville manager Chris Chambliss told The Greenville News after Robinson's 15th win late that August. "He's always throwing strikes. In games where he hasn't had good stuff, he'd still pitch a good game because all of his pitches go down and he doesn't let a walk and that kind of stuff beat him."

Robinson made AAA Richmond for 1992. He went 11-10 there, with a 3.57 ERA over 28 starts. He then started 1993 at Richmond before he moved to the Indians system and AAA Charlotte and AA Canton-Akron. His 1993 campaign proved his last as a pro.

1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,482
Made the Majors:1,215-34.9%
Never Made Majors:2,267-65.1%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:504
10+ Seasons in the Minors:299