Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dave Sturdivant, Three Runners - 2582

Bend Bucks catcher Dave Sturdivant was in a groove this night in August 1988 and the opposing runners paid the price, according to The Bend Bulletin.

Sturdivant caught three runners trying to steal. One of them came at third base to complete a double play on a strikeout, The Bulletin wrote.

Sturdivant was in his first season as a pro that year. He got into just two more. He made AA, but didn't make it higher.

Sturdivant's career began that year in 1988, taken by the Angels in the 10th round of the draft out of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Sturdivant won second-team all-conference honors in 1988. He made the National Baseball Congress World Series in 1987, hitting a two-run home run in an August game. He hit a three-run home run in a March 1988 game for UNLV.

Sturdivant played his first season with the Angels at short-season Bend. He got into 50 games, hitting .188. He walked and scored in a June game. He singled in another game.

Sturdivant moved to single-A Palm Springs for 1989. He got into 46 games there, but hit just .095.

For 1990, Sturdivant returned to Palm Springs. He also got time at AA Midland. Between them, he .213. It was his final season as a pro.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,023
Made the Majors: 903-44.6%
Never Made Majors:1,120-55.4%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 385
10+ Seasons in the Minors:220

Rocket Wheeler, Lengthy Trip - 590

Originally published March 31, 2011; Updated April 28, 2015
The major leagues weren't so far away for Ralph "Rocket" Wheeler and his high-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

And for Jason Heyward, who started 2009 with Myrtle Beach, the majors weren't, WMBF.com wrote.

"It's part of the speech I tell these guys every year, you don't know how close you are to the big leagues," Wheeler told WMBF. "Guys think, ‘here I am in Myrtle Beach, I have to go to Double-A and Triple-A before I get to the big leagues.' Believe me: your trip may be quicker than you think."

Wheeler's trip is still continuing, more than three decades in. After a playing career that lasted six seasons, all in the minors, Wheeler has gone on to a lengthy coaching and managing career, all in the minors.

Wheeler's career in the minors began in 1977, taken by the Blue Jays in the 13th round of the draft, out of the University of Houston. In his six seasons as a player, Wheeler got as high as AA, but no higher.

His playing career over by 1983, Wheeler went right to work in the manager's office, taking the top job at rookie league Medicine Hat, returning there in 1988 and 1989.

With Medicine Hat in 1988, Wheeler told of having to protect his young pitchers.

"You don't want a kid throwing 150-200 pitches and blowing his arm out," Wheeler told The Los Angeles Times. "A kid will tell you he's feeling fine, but you know when he's tiring. You have to protect them."

Wheeler served as hitting coach at AAA Syracuse for four years through 1993. By 1995, he was managing again, with the Blue Jays Gulf Coast League team.

He also soon started collecting awards. In 1996, with St. Catharines, Wheeler won league Manager of the Year honors. He did the same with Dunedin in 1999 and Myrtle Beach in 2008. He also managed his Rome Braves to the South Atlantic League title in 2003.

Among the players on that 2003 Rome team was catcher Brian McCann. Wheeler told MLB.com in 2009 that when he first saw McCann, Wheeler knew he had talent.

"He had a good year that year," Wheeler told MLB.com of 2003. "He knew what he wanted to do at the plate. Usually, you get a young kid coming up like that, they just want to hack. ... As an 18-year-old, he drew a leadoff walk in the game we won for the championship."

Wheeler stayed with Rome for three seasons, moving to Myrtle Beach for five seasons. For 2011, Wheeler was promoted, to the managing job at AA Mississippi. In 2015, Wheeler is serving as manager at rookie Danville.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Rosario Rodriguez, Key Outs - 231

The Pirates were heading down the stretch in 1991, but the bullpen wasn't been performing, according to The Washington Observer-Reporter.

One of the pitchers the Pirates should consider for the closer role, Observer-Reporter columnist John Sacco wrote: Rosario Rodriguez.

"He's very nasty for left-handed hitters to handle," Sacco wrote in The Observer-Reporter, "and he has proven in his short stay in the majors he can get key outs."

Rodriguez already had two saves by that point. He went on to pick up four more as the Pirates won the division. Only one bad outing caused his ERA to balloon.

Rodriguez was in his third season with time in the majors that year. Injuries and other problems meant he didn't get back.

Rodriguez' career began in 1987, signed by the Reds as a free agent out of his native Mexico.

Rodriguez started in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He had a 3.08 ERA there. He played 1988 between single-A Greensboro and single-A Cedar Rapids. He had a 2.79 ERA that year.

Rodriguez made AA Chattanooga for 1989. That September, he got a call-up directly to Cincinnati. He got into seven games with the Reds, 4.1 innings of work. He gave up two earned.

Rodriguez returned to Cincinnati for another nine relief outings in 1990, giving up seven earned in 10.1 innings. He played the rest of the year at Chattanooga and AAA Nashville.

Rodriguez moved to the Pirates for 1991, taken off waivers. He played most of the year at AAA Buffalo. He got his call up to Pittsburgh in August.

Rodriguez got into 18 games through the end of the season. He gave up seven earned in 15.1 innings of work. Six of those earned runs came in one Sept. 27 inning against the Expos. Before that inning, Rodriguez' ERA had sunk to 0.73.

Rodriguez made the playoff roster, but got into a single game. He gave up three earned in an inning of mop-up work in Game 3 of the NLCS. It was his final game in the majors.

Rodriguez returned for 1992, but was hampered by bursitis out of spring training. He played in just four games that year at Buffalo. He tried a return in 1993, but claimed visa programs made him late. He also came in overweight. His affiliated career was soon over.

Rodriguez them returned home to Mexico and played there for much of the next decade. He played 1993 with Monterrey. He's last recorded as playing in 1995 with Tijuana.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,022
Made the Majors: 903-44.7%-X
Never Made Majors:1,119-55.3%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 385
10+ Seasons in the Minors:220

Clemente Acosta, Fourth Save - 2569

Originally published May 27, 2011
Brought into the game in the seventh inning of this May 1988 game, Clemente Acosta was still pitching in the ninth, his team up 9 to 2.

Acosta, however, was still in line for the save - by the end of the seventh, Augusta had only been up by a run.

So, after starting off the ninth by giving up a double and a walk, Acosta settled back in and finished off his fourth save of the year, The Charleston Sunday Post/Courier wrote.

Though still May, the save ended up being the final save Acosta would record on the year. It would also be the second to last save he would record in his professional career.

The Dominican reliever would switch to starter two years later, then back to relieving. But, regardless of how he pitched, Acosta would never made the majors.

Acosta's career began in 1986, having been signed by the Pirates. Referred to then by his given first name, Jose Acosta, Acosta pitched for the Pirates' Gulf Coast League team. There, he made 20 relief appearances, with an ERA of 2.82. He also saved five games.

For 1987, Acosta moved to short-season Watertown, starting three games and coming into 17 others in relief. He went 2-3, with an ERA of 1.32, saving six.

He hit Augusta in 1988, saving those four contests. In 33 total relief appearances, he had an ERA of 3.96. He returned to August for 1989, posting a 5.29 ERA and saving a single game. It was his last season with the Pirates organization.

By 1990, Acosta was in the Angels organization, and going by his middle name, Clemente. He played that year largely at single-A Palm Springs, as a starter. He went 10-10 in 26 starts, with an ERA of 4.40.

He even got a two-game look at AA Midland that year, going 1-0. He returned to Midland for 1991, but in 37 games, six starts, he went 0-6. He also had an ERA of 7.28.

Acosta saw one more season, 12 appearances at Midland and his career was done, short of the majors.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,021
Made the Majors: 902-44.6%
Never Made Majors:1,119-55.4%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 385
10+ Seasons in the Minors:220

Shawn Boskie, More Relaxed - 312

Originally published April 15, 2012
Shawn Boskie tried to describe his mindset during his major league debut in May 1990.

"Surprisingly, I was a lot more relaxed than I thought I would be," Boskie told The Chicago Tribune. "A lot of the players helped me out by telling me what it was like when they broke in."

What the relaxed Boskie delivered that day was nothing short of a gem. The rookie threw a complete-game, five-hitter, giving up just one earned run for the win - in his first major-league outing.

Boskie went on to a career where he pitched in nine big league seasons, playing for six big league teams.

Boskie made the majors four years after signing with the Cubs. Boskie signed having been taken in the first round of the January 1986 draft, out of Modesto Junior College.

He played that first year at rookie Wytheville, going 4-4 in 12 starts. He moved to single-A Peoria in 1987, then AA Charlotte in 1989. For 1990, Boskie started the year at AAA Iowa. By May, he was in Chicago.

After that initial complete-game win, Boskie went on to go 5-6, with a 3.69 ERA in 15 starts. By the end of June, Boskie was 2-4, with a 4.15 ERA. Boskie told The Tribune then he was in the majors for a reason.

"They brought me here to win," Boskie told The Tribune, the paper noting Boskie wasn't being cocky. "I wouldn't be here if they didn't think I could do the job."

Boskie came back in 1991 for 20 more starts, and eight relief appearances. Boskie, though, went 4-9 with a 5.23 ERA. In 1992, Boskie went 5-11, with a 5.01 ERA in 18 starts.

For 1993, Boskie moved to relief, getting 39 outings and his best ERA, 3.43. Boskie, though, had yet to play for a winner. In April 1994, sent to the Phillies in a trade, Boskie hoped he would play for a winner.

"The novelty of pitching in the big leagues has worn off," Boskie told The Philadelphia Inquirer after the trade. "At this point I'd like to play on a winning team. The Cubs have finished fourth every year I've been there, so it's nice to be going to a team with a chance to win."

Boskie, though, wouldn't play for a winner until 1995, with the Angels. That's when Boskie's 7-7 record helped the Angels to a 78-67 mark and a second-place finish in the AL West.

Boskie played for a winner again in 1997, helping the Orioles to the division win, going 6-6 in nine starts and 19 relief outings. By that July, Boskie was a reliever.

"It's strange," Boskie told The Baltimore Sun after the switch that July, "because you strive to be the best you can be, and as a starter you get the opportunity to do that every five days, going through an entire lineup. Yet, I've had more consistency being a reliever. I think I'm still a commodity that's going to help us win and go to the playoffs."

The Orioles made the playoffs, but Boskie didn't go with them thanks to a late-season injury and surgery.

Boskie played just one more season in the majors, just five starts in 1998 with Montreal. Boskie, though, didn't stop playing until 2001, playing out his career in the minors. Boskie spent his final season in 2001, pitching with the Diamondbacks at AAA Tucson.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

1990 Greenville Braves

Features on each member of the 1990 Greenville Braves, AA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.

Greenville Braves (25)
1 - Buddy Bailey, One More
Buddy Bailey knows the importance of winning close games.
2 - Kevin Batiste, His Maturity
Kevin Batiste returned to the minors - and he got arrested.
3 - Mike Bell, New Opportunity
Mike Bell made the Braves over two seasons. He didn't get back.
4 - Brian Boltz, New Grip
Brian Boltz' career was cut short by injury.
5 - Rich Casarotti, Stalemate Broken
Rich Casarotti helped break a AAA stalemate. He never made bigs.
6 - Maximo Del Rosario, Crazy Sidewinder
Maximo Del Rosario was once called a crazy sidewinder.
7 - Terry Harper, Playing Time
Terry Harper just needed some playing time.
8 - Randy Ingle, Two Positions
Randy Ingle believed in being aggressive in a long career.
9 - Lee Johnson, Pitched Well
Lee Johnson pitched well in a high-A game in 1990. He never made AAA.
10 - John Kilner, More Consistent
John Kilner knew he needed to be more consistent. He never made the bigs.
11 - Rich Maloney, Coaching Career 
Rich Maloney's coaches inspired him to be the coach he became.
12 - Kelly Mann, Defensive Catcher
Kelly Mann showed his defense, but he couldn't quite show off his bat.
13 - Al Martin, Leadership Skills
Al Martin used his leadership skills over 11 major league seasons.
14 - Rick Morris, Good Hack
Rick Morris hit it pretty good in college. Played 6 pro seasons.
15 - David Plumb, Hot Hitter
David Plumb knocked the cover off ball at single-A, never made bigs.
16 - Tom Redington, Next Year
Tom Redington's bat was supposed to carry him. He never made the bigs.
17 - Ben Rivera, His Best
Ben Rivera went out and did his best against anyone.
18 - Rico Rossy, His Job
Rico Rossy understood his job in four ML seasons.
19 - Bill Slack, Good Teacher
John Smoltz once called Bill Slack a good teacher.
20 - Doug Stockham, Good Crowds
Doug Stockham played for the 1988 Durham Bulls.
21 - Andy Tomberlin, His Position
Andy Tomberlin changed positions to make the majors.
22 - Matt Turner, Terrible Call
Matt Turner saw one terrible call on the field, then one off it.
23 - Preston Watson, Good Slider
Preston Watson had a good slider. Played five seasons, not in bigs.
24 - Danny Weems, Enough Work
Danny Weems had a heckuva' arm in high school. He played six seasons, made AA.
25 - Turk Wendell, The Numbers, 4/23/15
Turk Wendell put up numbers over 11 major league seasons.

Charlie Mitchell, Family Trade - 229

Originally published May 25, 2010
Charlie Mitchell and his brother John had been on their way to becoming siblings on the same team, the Red Sox. Until 1985.

First John was traded to the Mets system, then Charlie was sent off to the Twins.

"We have nothing against the Mitchell family," Red Sox GM Lou Gorman told a reporter after the organization rid itself of the second Mitchell sibling, "but we didn't think Charlie fit into our plans in the long haul."

For his brother John, the move signaled the path to his major league debut. For Charlie, it saw him leave the major league portion of his career behind.

Charlie Mitchell was taken by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 1982 draft. He was first sent to short-season Elmira, and made AA New Britain in 1983. With New Britain, Mitchell shut down Reading Sept. 6 over four innings for his 14th save, according to a wire report in The Day.

He made Pawtucket and Boston in 1984. He made the International League All Star team that year.

Mitchell, described in one report as a sinkerball specialist, made his major league debut Aug. 9. The Rangers' Pete O'Brien greeted him to the majors with a solo home run on his first batter faced.

Twenty-three years later, Hideki Okajima would do the same, getting Mitchell back into the papers.

Mitchell pitched in 10 games for the Red Sox that year, posting a 2.76 ERA. In one game, Sept. 14, Mitchell's performance, three hits over three innings, was seen as the lone bright spot for the Sox, who lost to the Yankees 7-1.

Mitchell returned to Boston for only two games in 1985, giving up three runs in 1.2 innings. Mitchell would play in affiliated ball through 1991, but never return to the majors.

He was with the Twins system in 1986, the Tigers' system in 1987. His stretch with the Tigers was briefly sidelined when he contracted mononucleosis, according to The Telegraph.

Then he made a home with the Reds at AAA Nashville, where he would remain for four seasons. Baseball-Reference has Mitchell returning to independent Columbia for 1996 and 1997, ending his baseball career.

More recently, Mitchell went on a baseball clinic and baseball chapel visit to Mexico in 2008, according to the blog EddieMosley.com. For an account of the trip, visit the site.
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