Saturday, December 16, 2017

Randy Strijek, His Chance - 23

Originally published April 21, 2016
Randy Strijek remained patient in April 1989, according to his hometown Schenectady Gazette.

He'd made AA Hagerstown with the Orioles in his fourth season on the strength of his defense. He looked then to improve his hitting and maybe take that next step to AAA, according to The Gazette.

"I played pretty good at short last year. I made the all-star team, and if I get a chance, it would be nice to get to Rochester," Strijek told The Gazette as Hagerstown visited Albany-Colonie. "Everybody needs a chance, you've got to get a break."

Strijek's chance, though, never came. He played an abbreviated season that year and another short season the next. He never made it higher than AA.

Strijek's career began in 1986, taken by the Orioles in the 17th round of the draft out of Western Kentucky University.

Strijek went to Western Kentucky after graduating Draper High School in Rotterdam, NY, outside of Schenectady, and he stood out from a young age. He played on Rotterdam's 1980 Babe Ruth World Champion team.

At Draper, Strijek won all-conference honors four times and won second-team All-America honors his senior year, according to The Gazette. He made his old school district's hall of fame in 2013.

Strijek started with the Orioles at short-season Newark. He hit .209 in 72 games while playing shortstop for the team.

He then returned to Newark for 1987, getting 66 games there. He also got 34 games at single-A Hagerstown. Between the two levels, he hit .229.

Strijek played all of 1988 at Hagerstown, hitting .237 at short and making the Carolina League All-Star team.

He moved up to AA as Hagerstown moved to that level, but he got into just 22 games there and on the season.

After moving to the Giants in a trade, Strijek played 1990 at AA Shreveport, but his stay there was also short-lived. He singled and scored in a June game, after giving up a run on an error. He ended with just 17 appearances, closing out his professional career.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Rafael Rijo, Play Ball - 13

The Christian Science Monitor described the Dodgers' Dominican baseball academy in 2002. It had diamonds, dorms, a cafeteria and an armed guard.

"This is the way to play ball," Rafael Rijo, the academy's outfield coach, told The Monitor, "away from all the distractions, away from the streets and all the people."

Rijo himself got out of the Dominican to the United States as a player. He saw six total seasons, but never saw the majors. He has since gone on to a career as a coach and a scout - and see his son Wendell Rijo off to the pros.

Rafael Rijo's career began in 1988, signed by the Dodgers as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic.

Rijo started in the rookie Gulf Coast League. The outfielder hit .259 over 60 games, with 13 stolen bases. He moved to short-season Salem for 1989. He hit .228 over 73 games there.

He played 1990 at short-season Yakima, then 1991 at high-A Vero Beach. He went 8 for 13 in a May 1991 series. He hit .233 overall for Vero Beach, stealing 23 bases.

Rijo moved to the Expos and single-A Rockford for 1992. He hit .262 there over 105 games, stealing 32. After two seasons away, he played one last campaign in 1995 between high-A Port Charlotte and independent Laredo.

Rijo then went on to his new career as a scout and a coach. He served with the Dodgers in 2002 and a scout in 2012. In 2017, he worked in the Dominican with the Royals.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,849
Made the Majors:1,071-37.6%
Never Made Majors:1,778-62.4%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 444
10+ Seasons in the Minors:267

Andres Santana, Did It - 22

Originally published April 2, 2016
Andres Santana did something he hadn't done in his five-season career in July 1991: He hit a home run, according to The Arizona Republic.

He also did it the hard way, hitting an inside-the-parker, The Republic wrote.

"I'm not supposed to hit home runs because I'm so skinny," Santana told The Republic afterward, "but now I finally can say I did it."

By that point, Santana had already done something else. He made the major leagues the year before, getting into six games for the Giants in San Francisco. Santana never hit another home run. He also never returned to the majors.

Santana's career began in 1987, signed by the Giants as a free agent out of his native Dominican Republic.

Santana started with the Giants at rookie Pocatello. He hit .262 in 67 games. He also stole 45 bases. He knocked in the game-winner on a single in a June game against Salt Lake.

He moved to single-A Clinton for 1988, playing most of the year there, but also getting 11 games at AA Shreveport. Between the two levels, he stole 91 bases.

Santana then moved to single-A San Jose, but only got into 18 games. A broken ankle sidelined him the rest of the year.

He returned to the field and to Shreveport for 1990. He got into 92 games, stole 32 bases and hit .292. He also earned a September call up to San Francisco.

Santana got into six games for the Giants to close out the year. He got two at bats, recorded one RBI, but didn't get a hit.

Santana played 1991 back in the minors, at AAA Phoenix. He hit .316 in 113 games, but didn't return to San Francisco.

After not being recorded as playing in 1992 due to a shoulder injury, Santana moved to the Marlins and AAA Edmonton for 1993. He got into 61 games there and hit .228, rounding out his career.

Bryan Hickerson, Could Start - 11

Originally published April 11, 2016
Bryan Hickerson normally pitched in relief. On this night in August 1991, he showed his Giants he could start,  as well, according to The Associated Press.

Hickerson went seven innings without giving up a run, The AP wrote.

"You can't pitch much better than that," Giants manager Roger Craig told The AP afterward of Hickerson. "He was filling in because we needed a starter, and look what he did."

Hickerson first made the majors earlier that year. He went on to see the majors in four more campaigns. In all, he saw time in 209 major league games, starting 36 of them.

Hickerson's career began in 1986, taken by the Twins in the seventh round of the draft out of the University of Minnesota.

Hickerson started with the Twins at single-A Visalia as a starter. He began 11 games, going 4-3, with a 4.23 ERA.

He moved to the Giants system and single-A Clinton and AA Shreveport for 1987 in the Dan Gladden trade.

He missed 1988, but came back in 1989 at single-A San Jose. After going through Shreveport and AAA Phoenix in 1990, he returned to both in 1991. He also debuted in San Francisco that July.

Hickerson went 2-2 for the Giants over 17 outings, six starts. He then returned to San Francisco for 1992, getting into 61 games, 60 of those outings in relief.

That August, Hickerson gave up a home run to opposing pitcher Dwight Gooden after coming in early in relief. Hickerson also took the loss.

"I threw Gooden a split (finger fastball) that didn't drop," Hickerson told The AP afterward.

Hickerson posted a 3.09 ERA that year. He then returned to San Francisco for each of the next two seasons, getting 47 outings, 15 starts in 1993 and 28 outings, 14 starts in 1994.

The Cubs took Hickerson off waivers for 1995 and he went to the Rockies mid-season in a trade. Between them, he got into 56 games in relief, with an 8.57 ERA, ending his pro career.

Hickerson then started a brief coaching career. He coached 1997 at high-A Bakersfield and 1998 at high-A San Jose.

In June 1998, Hickerson worked with Giants minor leaguer Luis Estrella to slow the pitcher's delivery.

"He always wants the ball, which is good," Hickerson told The Los Angeles Times. "But he wants to do everything quickly, and I mean everything. He has good stuff. When he slows himself down, he can have great stuff."

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Mike Ham, Defensive Catcher - 9

Originally published April 16, 2016
Mike Ham made AAA Phoenix in 1989, but it wasn't so much for his own play. The AAA club had an injury hole to fill, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Ham, though, tried to make the best of it, The Times wrote, coming through big in two early games.

"We knew Mike was a great defensive catcher, but he's holding his own as a hitter," Giants assistant director of minor league Dave Nahabedian told The Times. "That's surprised us. But, there he is with two game-winning hits."

Ham got into 16 games for Phoenix that year, his third as a pro. He played one more season. He never made it higher.

Ham's career began in 1987, taken by the Giants in the 24th round of the draft out of Cal State Fullerton.

At Fullerton, Ham had a field day in a March 1986 game. His team won by a score of 15-2. Ham went 4 for 6, accounting for 7 RBI.

Ham started for the Giants at short-season Everett. He got into 39 games and hit .248. He went 1 for 4 in a June game.

He moved to single-A Clinton for 1988, hitting just .165 there over 46 games. He then played 1989 between single-A San Jose, AA Shreveport and Phoenix. In 51 total games that year, he hit .197.

Ham then played 1990 back at San Jose and Shreveport. In 24 games, he hit .255, ending his professional career.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fausto Tatis, Comeback Stopped - 33

The High Desert Mavericks tried to mount a comeback in April 1991, but Bakersfield's Fausto Tatis came on to shut the door, according to The San Bernardino County Sun.

Down 6-2 in the ninth, High Desert scored twice, The Sun wrote. Then came Tatis. He induced a strikeout and ended the game.

Tatis got that strikeout in his third season as a pro. That season also marked his last season. He made high-A, but didn't make it higher.

Tatis' career began in 1989, signed as a free agent by the Dodgers out of his native Dominican Republic.

Tatis started with the Dodgers in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He went 3-3, with a 2.54 ERA over 11 outings, nine starts.

He then moved to high-A Bakersfield and short-season Yakima for 1990. He went 3-3 at Bakersfield, with a 5.97 ERA, and 1-4, with a 4.48 ERA over 13 starts at Yakima. He picked up one of his losses in an August game for Yakima, going four innings and giving up four runs.

Tatis returned to Bakersfield for 1991. He got into six games, all in relief. He gave up 10 earned in 9.1 innings of work to end his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,848
Made the Majors:1,071-37.6%
Never Made Majors:1,777-62.4%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 444
10+ Seasons in the Minors:267

Kurt Olson, Rejuvenated Team - 6

Hinsdale Central High School looked title in 1985 and Kurt Olson played a big part of that, according to The Chicago Tribune.

The junior Olson, along with a teammate, "rejuvenated" the Hinsdale team as the two regularly got on base, The Tribune wrote.

Olson went on to sign as a pro four years later. He couldn't get on base enough for a lengthy career. He played a single season as a pro.

Olson's pro career started in August 1989, signed by the Dodgers as an undrafted free agent.

Olson was originally drafted out out of Hinsdale, taken by the Twins in the 19th round, but he did not sign. He appears to have gone to college, but whatever school that was isn't listed on either Baseball-Reference or The Baseball Cube.

Olson started and ended with the Dodgers in 1990 at short-season Yakima. He went 3 for 4, with one run scored and two RBI in an August game against Bend.

He played predominantly at first base, but he also pitched an inning. He gave up one hit and no runs. Overall at the plate, Olson hit .259 over 53 games to mark the extent his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,847
Made the Majors:1,071-37.6%
Never Made Majors:1,776-62.4%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 444
10+ Seasons in the Minors:267

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