Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Jeff Ingram, Big Hit - 5

Jeff Ingram's University of New Orleans Privateers needed a big hit in this March 1988 game and Ingram provided it.

In the bottom of the eighth, his team down by one, Ingram knocked a single to tie the game against South Carolina, according to The Greenwood Index-Journal.

Ingram went on from New Orleans to turn pro. His pro career, though, ended up brief. He played two seasons, making it to single-A, but no higher.

Ingram's pro career began in 1989, taken by the White Sox the previous year in the 43rd round of the draft out of New Orleans. He went to New Orleans out of Shawnee Mission High School in Kansas.

Ingram started with the White Sox at short-season Utica. The catcher got into 50 games and hit .292. He also hit two home runs, knocking in 20.

He then played 1990 between single-A South Bend and Utica. He hit .286 over 61 games at South Bend and .228 over 29 games at Utica, marking the extent of his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,610
Made the Majors:1,023-39.2%
Never Made Majors:1,587-60.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 424
10+ Seasons in the Minors:261

Dave Allen, Statewide Award - 16

Originally published Jan. 20, 2016
Dave Allen finished up his high school career at Rochester's Greece Athena with a statewide honor.

Allen pitched well enough in 1987 to be named the Gatorade New York State Player of the Year for his athletic and academic performance and for his character.

Allen went on from high school to turn pro. His pro career lasted five seasons. He couldn't translate his high school success to the pro ranks. He never made AA.

Allen's career began that year in 1987, signed by the Phillies as a amateur free agent out of the Greece Athena High School in Western New York.

Allen played his first year at short-season Utica. He got into five games, giving up one earned in 9.2 innings of work. He then moved to short-season Batavia for 1988, but got into only one disastrous game. He gave up eight earned, getting only two outs.

Allen then moved to the Astros system, playing 1989 in the rookie Gulf Coast League. Over 13 relief outings, he had a 5.13 ERA.

He returned to the New York-Penn League for 1990 at Auburn. He got into 14 games in relief, and had a 4.02 ERA. He also recorded three saves.

His final year in affiliated ball came in 1991 at single-A Burlington. Over 27 games, 18 starts, Allen went 5-7, with a 5.22 mark.

Allen's final pro time came in 1994 and 1995 in independent ball. He got into one game at Winnipeg in 1994 and five at Richmond, Ind., in 1995, ending his career.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Danny Matznick, About Him - 20

Danny Matznick played six seasons as a pro, his career shortened by shoulder, elbow and knee injuries, according to SaukValley.com.

Years later, though, Matznick found himself with another connection to the game, his son Quinton. And the high schooler was having success, the site wrote.

"It is all about him now," Matznick told SaukValley in August 2013. "I did a lot of good things in baseball, but I never got to win a state championship or go to a tournament like the Central Regional."

The father's career began in 1989, taken by the White Sox in the fourth round of the draft out of Sterling High School in Illinois.

At Sterling, Matznick also played football, serving as the school's quarterback. He suffered a knee injury prior to his junior year.

He started with the White Sox in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He went 2-3 over 12 outings, 11 starts, with a 3.12 ERA.

Matznick moved to single-A South Bend for 1990. He went 10-7 in 25 starts, with a 3.48 ERA. He went eight innings in a July game without giving up a run.

He played 1991 and 1992 at high-A Sarasota. He started 26 games there in 1991, going 5-12, with a 4.00 ERA. He got into just two games in 1992 and then started nine games in the GCL in 1993.

Matznick played his final professional season in 1994. He got seven starts between the GCL and South Bend, ending his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,609
Made the Majors:1,023-39.2%
Never Made Majors:1,586-60.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 424
10+ Seasons in the Minors:261

Jose Flores, Hit Streak - 6

Originally published Jan. 20, 2016
Jose Flores' late single in this May 1993 game didn't mean much in the outcome of the game. It knocked in Osceola's third run in a 10-3 loss.

The single, though, did do something else. It extended Flores' hitting streak to 18 games, according to The Orlando Sentinel, tying Flores for the franchise best mark.

Flores went on that streak in his fourth season as a pro. He came back for a fifth season in 1994, making AA, but he never made it higher.

Flores' career began in 1990, taken by the Astros in the 38th round of the draft out of his native Puerto Rico.

He played his first year at short-season Auburn. He hit .183 over 42 games there. He moved to single-A Asheville for 1991 and 1992. He also showed progress. He hit .220 his first year there and .267 his second.

Flores then made high-A Osceola for 1993. He hit .243 over 124 games there. He also knocked in 39 and stole 12 bases. He went 0 for 3 in a May win, but scored two runs. He then went 2 for 6 in a July extra-inning loss.

Flores made AA Jackson in 1994, but his stay was brief. He hit .192 over 47 games, ending his career.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Jeff Ball, Extra Time - 9

Originally published Jan. 12, 2016
Jeff Ball responded to his first major league hit in June 1998 by asking for a time out, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

After a long career in the minors, Ball required a breather.

"I told my first-base coach I needed a little extra time to enjoy this," Ball told The Chronicle, "because it took me eight years to get it."

As it turned out, Ball needed to savor that hit. He ended up being his only hit in the majors. He picked up that one hit in four major league at bats.

He went on to return to the minors and play briefly in Japan, but he never returned to the majors.

Ball's career began in 1990, taken by the Astros in the 12th round of the draft out of San Jose State University.

Ball started with the Astros at short-season Auburn. He hit .289 over 70 games. He moved to high-A Osceola for 1991 and AA Jackson for 1992.

After playing 1993 at single-A Quad City and then Jackson again in 1994, Ball first made AAA in 1995 at Tucson. He hit .293 there with 56 RBI.

Beginning 1996, Ball became an unexpected starter at first base for Tucson. After a slow start at the plate, Ball picked up by mid-April.

"I've been working on stuff and I am starting to come around now," Ball told The Tucson Citizen. "I wanted to get off to a good start and I had a lot of stuff going on in my mind. I finally got back to the basics and I am doing my early work to get untracked."

Ball hit .324 that year for Tucson, but he never saw Houston. He then moved to the Giants system for 1997, playing at AAA Phoenix. He started 1998 back at AAA. Then, in June, he got his call to San Francisco.

Years later Ball explained the experience to The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal. "It was well worth it," Ball told the paper.

Ball played the rest of that year at Fresno, then the next at AAA Vancouver. In 2000, Ball went back to Fresno. He also went to Japan and got into three games with Hiroshima, getting two hits.

He went on to play in Mexico and in independent ball. His final time came in 2002 and 2003 at independent Atlantic City. He then took over the club as manager. He's credited as managing there from 2004 to 2006.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Kirk Champion, Role Changes - 27

Kirk Champion never thought he'd leave his job as a coach at Southern Illinois University, he told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch years later.

But he did leave Southern Illinois, to join the White Sox organization. It's that job he hasn't left.

"A lot of guys bounce around," Champion told The Post-Dispatch. "I have just been fortunate enough to stay in the same organization, with a lot of different role changes along the way."

Champion spoke to The Post Dispatch in January 2017, as the White Sox minor league field coordinator. He started with the club nearly three decades earlier, in 1989. In the years since, he's coached from single-A South Bend to AAA Charlotte, though never in the bigs.

Champion's career as a coach began by 1979, when he served as an assistant coach at Southwest Missouri State University. He moved to Rend Lake College by 1982, staying there four seasons. He then served as assistant coach at Southern Illinois from 1986 to 1988.

Champion arrived with the White Sox and South Bend for 1989, continuing there through 1991. In 1990, he coached opposite his brother Keith Champion, who served as manager of the fellow Midwest League squad, the Springfield Cardinals.

Champion moved up to high-A Sarasota for 1992, then AA Birmingham for 1993. He coached at Birmingham for four seasons, before moving up to AAA Nashville for 1997. He watched his Nashville hurler Rich Pratt take a tough loss in July.

"He was moving his pitch in and out," Champion told The Nashville Tennessean. "That's the second straight game he's pitched where he lost 3-0."

Champion stayed coaching at AAA through 2001, then became a coordinator.

In October 2014, he worked to ensure prospect Tim Anderson could stick with a transition to shortstop, according to The Chicago Tribune.

"He has strong hands and can show power to different parts of the field," told The Tribune. "It has been fun watching him grow up because (the coaches) constantly have drilled him in the things it takes to become a shortstop."
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,608
Made the Majors:1,023-39.2%
Never Made Majors:1,585-60.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 424
10+ Seasons in the Minors:261

Joey Fernandez, Waited For - 12

The Florida Gators ended a seven-game losing streak to rival Miami in April 1987 with Joey Fernandez doing his part to get the Gators to the win, according to The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Fernandez knocked in two of Gators' three runs on a fourth-inning double in the 3-2 Florida victory, The Sun-Sentinel wrote.

"Every senior on this team has been waiting for this," Fernandez told The Sun-Sentinel of breaking the team losing streak. "We've talked about it. It should have happened earlier, it should have happened last year. But we'll take it now."

Fernandez had something else happen a couple months later that he likely waited for. He turned pro with the Cardinals. But, after playing six seasons as a pro, his wait to make the majors never paid off.

Fernandez' pro career began that year in 1987, taken by the Cardinals in the 26th round of the draft out of Florida.

At Florida, he won all-SEC honors in 1987, winning conference player of the week honors in March 1986. He turned in a .704 slugging percentage, a .377 batting average and hit 16 home runs in 1987, according to the school's media guide.

Fernandez started with the Cardinals at single-A Savannah. He hit .271 over 63 games.

He then moved to single-A St. Petersburg for 1988 and 1989. He got into 45 games in 1988 and then 107 in 1989. He hit .282, with seven home runs and 50 RBI in 1989.

Fernandez made AA Arkansas in 1990, hitting .269 over the season. He walked and scored on a triple in an April game. He knocked in two on single and hit a home run in a July game.

He played 1991 at AAA Louisville, hitting .237 over 104 games. He returned to Louisville for 20 more games in 1992, marking the extent of his time in the Cardinals organization.

Fernandez is credited as playing one more season in Mexico for Saltillo, ending his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,607
Made the Majors:1,023-39.2%
Never Made Majors:1,584-60.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 424
10+ Seasons in the Minors:261

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