Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Steve Foster, Career Ender - 14

Steve Foster's shoulder got to the point in 1993 where he needed surgery. He saw it as simply a culmination of all the work he'd put in, not necessarily his work early that year, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

"It's not a question of being over-used," Foster told The Enquirer that June. "It's just the wear and tear on the arm, all those years closing in the minors."

Foster had the wear of six pro seasons at that point - three with time in the majors. He then underwent surgery, but wouldn't see the majors again as a player.

He has, however, returned to the bigs as a coach, continuing in 2017 as pitching coach for the Colorado Rockies. He has also brought with him, or at least others have, a story of his playing career's end that sounds good, but a story that Foster himself has to continue to knock down.

Foster's career began in 1988, taken by the Reds in the 12th round of the draft out of the University of Texas at Arlington.

Foster started with the Reds at rookie Billings. He moved to single-A Cedar Rapids for 1989 and saved 23 games. He saved another 20 at AA Chattanooga in 1990 and 22 between Chattanooga and AAA Nashville in 1991.

That August, he made Cincinnati. He got into 11 games and gave up three earned over 14 innings of work.

In early September, he gained some notoriety on a trip to Montreal. When asked at customs if he had anything to declare, according to a note that October in The Los Angeles Times, Foster said he did: "Sure, I'm proud to be an American."

Foster returned for 1992. He got into 31 games and posted a 2.88 ERA. By early September, he'd suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder throwing equipment into his truck, though he quickly returned.

Then came his 1993 campaign. He got into 17 games, with a 1.75 ERA. But his shoulder flared up again. On a Los Angeles trip, he also apparently appeared on The Tonight Show May 19.

As the story went, he appeared in a skit on the show, injured his shoulder and ended his career, according to The Denver Post years later. Foster noted to The Post his shoulder had hurt him since that spring and he pitched that night after the show, so the show didn't end his career. (Also of note, the June 1993 Enquirer story on his impending surgery didn't appear to reference a late-night appearance at all.)

His career over, Foster then stayed in the game as a scout for Tampa Bay. He turned coach by 2005 at single-A Greensboro. In 2007, he returned to the majors as bullpen coach for the Marlins. He arrived in Colorado as pitching coach in 2015.

"He has the ability to connect with people, the ability to teach, encourage and hold people accountable," Colorado manager Walt Weiss told of why the team hired Foster. "First and foremost, we were looking for a leader."
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,725
Made the Majors:1,040-38.2%-X
Never Made Majors:1,685-61.8%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 429
10+ Seasons in the Minors:263

Scott Nichols, Scouting Rasmus - 28

Originally published Aug. 4, 2010
Colby Rasmus has been doing well for himself on the Cardinals since his debut last year. Scott Nichols is someone who saw that talent five years ago.

A long-time scout for the Cardinals, Nichols recalled in 2005 seeing a good high school team in Alabama, one that included the outfielder Rasmus, according to Baseball America.

"I remember walking out of there the first time I saw them saying, 'That right there is a good high school baseball team,' " Nichols told Baseball America that year, after Nichols' signed the 28th rounder that year.

"Those games were incredible displays of dominance," Nichols said later of a Rasmus display in the high school playoffs. "Colby's last home run was a monstrous bomb."

Nichols himself never got a chance to do well for himself in the majors, never getting there to get the opportunity.

Nichols, sometimes credited by his given name Gary Nichols, began his own career in 1985, signed by the Cardinals. Nichols played that year at short-season Erie.

He stayed in A-ball through 1988, spending time at St. Petersburg in 1986, Savannah in 1987 and Springfield in 1988. The catcher played the most at Savannah, recording 94 games. But his average was never there. The year at Savannah was he one where he hit his best, .236.

He also never really had power. In 1986, Nichols hit two home runs on the year. One of those came in July, when he ignited a four-run rally with a home run over the left field wall, according to the St. Petersburg Evening Independent.

Nichols was one of the players St. Petersburg manager Mike Jorgensen pointed out that August as a stabilizing force on the team in the face of player loss to promotion, according to The St. Petersburg Times.

"These guys feel like they want to play a little better because they want to be the next guy to go," Jorgensen told The Times before listing off all the players lost to promotions.

"I can't complain one iota. Scott Nichols came over from extended (spring training)," Jorgensen said, noting two other players. "Things kind of fell into place so far."

Nichols himself wasn't promoted to AA until June 1989, playing 20 games at Arkansas and hitting .240. He split 1990 between Louisville and Arkansas.. He drove in a run for Louisville in an April 4-1 victory at Des Moines. He played 1991 back at Louisville, his final year as a player.

But his career has continued with the Cardinals with his scouting work.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ross Powell, Good Stuff - 24

Ross Powell looked back what got him to the majors in 1993 and he cited a mid-season move to consistency, he told The Indianapolis Star.

"I learned I couldn't just get by with good stuff," Powell told The Star. "I have to be able to use my breaking pitches and location to be successful. I'm just going to go up there and work hard and hope to make the most of it."

Powell went up there and saw time in nine games for the Reds. He then went on to see time in two more, with the Astros and Pirates. In all, he got into 48 major league games over three big league campaigns.

Powell's career began in 1989, taken by the Reds in the third round of the draft out of the University of Michigan.

He started with the Reds at single-A Cedar Rapids. He moved to AA Chattanooga for 1990, getting a brief look at AAA Nashville. He went 8-14 on the year, with a 3.55 ERA.

Powell moved to Nashville full time for 1991. He went 8-8 over 24 starts, with a 4.37 ERA. He split 1992 between Nashville and Chattanooga and spent 1993 at AAA Indianapolis.

Then, in September 1993, he got his shot with Cincinnati. He got into nine games, starting one. He gave up eight earned in 16.1 innings of work.

He moved to the Astros for 1994, getting into 12 games in relief and posting a 1.23 ERA. He started 1995 back with Houston and got into 15 games before moving to the Pirates mid-season. He took the loss in his first game with his new organization, on a three-pitch outing.

"I just wanted to throw strikes," Powell told reporters afterward after giving up a home run. "Unfortunately, I left a ball up in the zone."

Powell ended the season with 27 outings between Houston and Pittsburgh and a 6.98 ERA.

Powell returned to the minors for 1996. He played between AAA Louisville with the Cardinals and AAA Indianapolis with the Reds. That season marked his last as a pro.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,724
Made the Majors:1,039-38.1%-X
Never Made Majors:1,685-61.9%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 429
10+ Seasons in the Minors:263

John Briscoe, Last Few - 150

Originally published Feb. 16, 2014
The Brewers were trying to mount a comeback and the Athletics turned to John Briscoe to shut them down.

Brought in with two outs in the ninth inning, the tying run on deck, Briscoe proceeded induce a ground out, sealing the win and Briscoe's second career save.

"That was definitely a lift for us," Briscoe told The Associated Press afterward. "They've beaten up on us pretty good the last few years. It would be nice to change that."

Briscoe knew how the last few years went for Oakland because he'd been with the team for those years. That season in 1996 was Briscoe's sixth with time with the team.

Briscoe's career began in 1988, taken by the Athletics in the third round of the draft out of Texas Christian University. His name was also misspelled John Briscoa.

Briscoe started in the rookie Arizona League. He moved to single-A Madison in 1989 and single-A Modesto in 1990. He also got three games at AA Huntsville that year.

Then, with little time above single-A, Briscoe made the jump in April 1991 all the way to Oakland. Briscoe got into 11 games for the Athletics in Oakland that year, giving up 11 earned in 14 innings of work.

He returned to Oakland for two outings in 1992, then 17 in 1993. In 1994, Briscoe returned for a career high 37 outings. He also came in with a 4.01 ERA and his first career save. He also went 4-2 that year, picking up a win in an August game by getting one out.

Briscoe got into another 16 outings for Oakland in 1995 and 17 in 1996. In 1996, he posted a 3.76 ERA, picking up one save and a loss. The loss came in an April game on a home run.

"I tried to throw him a fastball away, but it tailed back over the plate and he smoked it," Briscoe told The AP after that game. "I think that ball would have gone out of any ballpark on the planet."

Those 17 outings in 1996 were also his last outings in the majors. Briscoe, though, continued playing in the minors and independent ball through 2002. He played his final five seasons with independent Somerset in the Atlantic League.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Doug Banning, Second Run - 4

Doug Banning balked in a run, but he still got the win, according to The San Bernardino County Sun.

Banning went seven innings in this April 1988 game for single-A Fresno and gave up three runs. The second run, then to tie the game, came in on Banning's fourth-inning balk, The Sun wrote.

Banning played in that single-A game in his fifth season as a pro - after an abbreviated campaign at AAA Edmonton the year before. He went on to play in Mexico and return at AA for a season, but Banning never made the bigs.

Banning's career began in 1984, signed by the Angels as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Northern Colorado.

At Northern Colorado, Banning hit a home run in a March 1982 game. He hit 10 home runs in 1983 to lead his team.

Banning started with the Angels at single-A Peoria as a pitcher. He went 1-6 in 15 outings, 8 starts, with a 5.63 ERA.

He played 1985 between single-A Quad City and AA Midland. He went 9-8 overall, with a 4.32 ERA. He picked up the loss in an August game for Midland.

Banning played 1986 completely at Midland and then started 1987 at AAA Edmonton. His season at Edmonton, however, turned out to be brief. He got into just six games in relief, giving up six earned in 9.2 innings of work.

He returned to the field at Fresno in 1988. He struck out 11 in a May start where he threw a complete game in a loss. Overall, Banning went 5-8, with a 5.88 ERA.

Banning played 1989 in Mexico with Dos Laredos. He returned stateside in 1990 with Chattanooga and made the Southern League all-star team. Overall, he went 9-10, with a 4.48 ERA in 26 starts to end his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,723
Made the Majors:1,038-38.1%
Never Made Majors:1,685-61.9%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 429
10+ Seasons in the Minors:263

James Buccheri, More Confidence - 162

Originally published March 1, 2014
James Buccheri took off at Golden West College in 1988, literally.

With the encouragement of his coach Fred Hoover, focused on breaking the school record for steals, which stood at 35. By late March, he was on his way to doing just that, according to The Los Angeles Times.

"Last season I would get the sign to go, but a lot of times I was afraid I couldn't make it, so I wouldn't," Buccheri told The Times. "This season I just have a lot more confidence that I can make it."

Buccheri ended up swiping 46 bases for Golden West that year. He also turned pro that summer. In the pros, Buccheri continued running, stealing nearly 400 bases over 13 seasons as a pro. Buccheri, though, never got to attempt a steal in the majors.

Buccheri's career began that year in 1988, taken by the Athletics in the 24th round out of Golden West.

At Golden West, Buccheri stole those 46 bases. He also hit .444 and tried out for the U.S. Olympic team. After failing to make the team, Buccheri chose the Athletics over Cal State Fullerton, according to The Times.

Buccheri played his first year with the Athletics at short-season Southern Oregon. He hit .289 over 58 games. He also stole 25 bases.

In 1989, he moved to single-A Madison, swiping 43. At high-A Modesto and AA Huntsville in 1990, Buccheri hit .231, stealing 30. Boccheri's average dipped to .212 at Huntsville in 1991, stealing 35. His season, though, was cut short after he fouled a ball off his ankle.

Buccheri got his first look at AAA in 1992, 46 games. He then returned to Tacoma for 1993.

By August 1994, Buccheri was in the midst of his seventh season as as pro. He was hitting .304 and swiping 32 bases. He was also still playing at AAA, and getting frustrated, according to The Times.

"I want to go to a team that will give me a chance to play in the big leagues," Buccheri told The Times. "I feel I've shown I can play at that level."

He moved to the Expos for 1995, but it was back to AAA. He stole 44 bases at Ottawa that year and 33 the next.

Buccheri continued playing in the minors through 2000, playing in the Devil Rays and Mets systems. He also played in Mexico. He never made the majors.

Buccheri then went to Italy. He's credited as playing in Italy over the next decade. Most recently, he's credited with 12 games with Rimini. Buccheri also played for Italy elsewhere, making the roster of the 2004 Italian Olympic team and the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

Buccheri is listed in 2014 as providing lessons in Southern California.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Terry Lee, So Successful - 19

Terry Lee made AAA by his fifth season as a pro, then a mysterious injury threatened his career, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

The injury involved his ankle, the cause unknown. The injury forced him to miss the entire 1987 season and slowed him upon his return - until 1990, The Enquirer wrote.

"I'm not taking anything for granted now," Lee told The Enquirer. "The last year I played pain-free was 1985, and I took things for granted. I look back on it now and kick myself . . . I think that's why I've been so successful this year."

Lee spoke to The Enquirer in September 1990 on the occasion of his first call up to the majors.

Lee went on to see he majors in that season and the next. He got into 15 games in all, picking up four total hits. He played in 14 professional seasons in all, ending in 1997 with independent Winnipeg.

Lee's career began in 1982, signed by the Reds as an undrafted free agent out of San Luis Obispo High School in California.

Lee started with the Reds at short-season Eugene. He moved to single-A Cedar Rapids for 1983 and AA Vermont for 1984. He hit .242 that year at Vermont and .289 there on his return in 1985.

He made AAA Denver for 1986, but then came his ankle problem. He got into only 34 games that year and missed 1987. He returned for 25 games at single-A Greensboro in 1988 and 64 games between AA Chattanooga and AAA Nashville.

Lee again split 1990 between Chattanooga and Nashville. Then, in September, he go his call up to Cincinnati. He got into 12 games for the eventual world champions. He went 4 for 19 and knocked in three.

When the Reds made the postseason, Lee got the call for the World Series roster. He didn't get into a game, but he did get on deck, he recalled years later.

"The next inning, I wasn't sure if I should go back out there," Lee told The North Hills News Record in 1995, "and by the time I asked. Hal Morris was going up. I've often wondered why I didn't just grab a bat and go out there."

Lee returned to Cincinnati for three games in 1991. He played the rest of the year at Nashville. He then played 1992 at AAA with the Indians and Twins, then 1993 in Mexico.

Lee then finished out his career with three seasons at Winnipeg. He hit .358 in 77 games there in 1997, ending his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,722
Made the Majors:1,038-38.1%-X
Never Made Majors:1,684-61.9%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 429
10+ Seasons in the Minors:263


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