Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Gary Cooper, Work Habits - 19

Gary Cooper readied to move on to college in 1986 and his high school baseball coach saw big things for him there, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote.

"He's just an excellent outfielder with good speed and a good throwing arm. And be hits so well," Swift, head coach at the St. Louis-area Lafayette High, told The Post-Dispatch that April. "He has great work habits. He works hard at what he needs to do to improve."

Cooper worked hard enough to make the pros - twice. But he couldn't stay there. He played parts of two seasons. He never made single-A.

Cooper's pro career began in 1988, taken by the Angels in the 25th round of the draft out of Scottsdale Community College in Arizona.

Cooper initially played his college ball at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He moved to Scottsdale after a tough start in Columbia, The Post-Dispatch wrote.

He then signed with the Angels for 1988, playing briefly at short-season Bend. He got into 13 games and hit .234.

He then returned to college, at Columbia. He also held out hope for a return to the pros, The Post-Dispatch wrote in June 1989.

"At the time, it was a dream come-true," Cooper told The Post-Dispatch of his first pro stint, as he worked to return. "But I'm still hopeful. If I didn't think there was a chance to be re-signed, I probably wouldn't be playing now."

Cooper signed with the Cardinals later that year. Assigned to short-season Hamilton, Cooper played 65 games. He hit .180, with four home runs, ending his pro career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,541
Made the Majors:1,016-40.0%
Never Made Majors:1,525-60.0%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 422
10+ Seasons in the Minors:259

Jeffry Bonner, Long Haul - 5

Originally published Jan. 20, 2015
Jeffry Bonner hit well in this July 1989 game for Clinton, but he couldn't seem to push any runs across.

But he wasn't alone in his frustration. It seemed like nobody else could, either. That's because this game between Clinton and the Waterloo Diamonds went 25 innings.

Bonner stayed in for the long haul. He got 10 at bats for Clinton in that game, picking up three hits. He didn't score and he didn't knock in any runs.

As for Bonner's career as a whole, that didn't end up being long. That was his first professional season. He got into just two more.

Bonner's career began that year in 1989, signed by the Giants as a free agent out of his native Maryland.

Bonner played his first year for single-A Clinton. The outfielder got into 117 games for the club, hitting .233. He knocked in 32 and stole 17 bases.

He returned to Clinton for 199. In 78 games that year, his average fell to .214. He had 20 RBI and 13 stolen bases that year.

For 1991, he moved up to high-A San Jose. His average, though, remained about the same. It came in at just .217. He hit his first professional home run that year, but it also turned out to be his last. That season was his final season as a pro.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Skeets Thomas, Could Hit - 24

Skeets Thomas made AAA for the first time in 1993 and he held out hopes for a promotion to the bigs, according to The Louisville Courier-Journal.

Until that happened, his manager at Louisville, Jack Krol, was just happy to have him, according to The Courier-Journal.

"Skeets Thomas can play for me anyplace I manage," Krol told The Courier-Journal. "He can hit, and he plays a better outfield than I had heard. I'm very happy with him."

Thomas found a home that year at AAA, but he ultimately never made the majors. He played three full seasons a step away from the bigs, but never took that final step.

Thomas' career began in 1990, taken by the Cardinals in the 25th round of the draft out of the University of South Carolina. He is sometimes credited by his given name, John Thomas.

At South Carolina, Thomas played both baseball and football. On the baseball field, he picked up 230 career hits, still eighth place in school history in 2006.

Thomas started with the Cardinals in 1990 at short-season Hamilton and single-A Springfield. He hit .259 over 72 games.

He made high-A St. Petersburg for 1991, upping his average to .298. He knocked in 48. Thomas then made AA Arkansas for 1992, hitting .272 there, with 10 home runs.

Thomas moved up to Louisville in 1993. He hit .276 over 108 games. He hit a career high 17 home runs in 1994, with a .240 average. His final season came in 1995, back at Louisville. He hit .249, with nine home runs to end his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,540
Made the Majors:1,016-40.0%
Never Made Majors:1,524-60.0%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 422
10+ Seasons in the Minors:259

Kelly Ahrens, Family Decision - 3

Originally published Jan. 20, 2015
Kelly Ahrens put in two seasons in the minors. In the end, though, he turned to his family, he told The Bend Bulletin in 1992.

He also moved on from professional baseball.

"It was a family decision, really," Ahrens told The Bulletin two years after his final season. "I couldn't afford to play ball and keep my family at home. I didn't feel anything was worth being away from my family."

Ahrens played at Bend in 1990, the year his family expanded by one as he became the father of a boy. That season was his second as a pro, and also his last.

Ahrens' career began in 1989, taken by the Giants in the 20th round of the draft out of Newberry College in South Carolina.

He played his first season at rookie Pocatello. In 34 games, the catcher hit .224, with four home runs and 19 RBI.

He then moved to single-A Clinton to start 1990. He got into 21 games there and hit just .178. The rest of his season was spent at short-season Bend.

At Bend, Ahrens got into 43 games, hitting .231, with six home runs. He hit one of those home runs in an August game, just after returning from a trip home for the birth of his son. In July, the catcher threw out a runner in a win.

Before the birth of his son, Ahrens told The Bulletin about being away from home and his wife as an expecting father.

"I try not to think about it," Ahrens told The Bulletin, "but it's getting harder. I'm getting a little more nervous."

That was his final season as a pro. His playing career over, Ahrens returned home to South Carolina and went into the financial services industry. He's also stayed involved in baseball, founding Stars and Stripes Sports.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Frank Carey, Two Straight - 4

Originally published Feb. 1, 2015
Stanford won its second-straight College World Series championship in 1988 and helping them get there was Frank Carey.

Carey went 4 for 4 in one regional game and three in a series game. To The Associated Press after the big win, Carey reacted to his team's success.

"This is great to come back here and win it two years in a row," Carey told The AP. "You need a lot of intangibles to work. This is unbelievable."

Carey went on to turn pro the next year. His professional career, though, was brief, just three seasons. He briefly made AA, but didn't make it higher.

Carey's career began in 1989, taken by the Giants in the eighth round of the draft out of Stanford.

With Stanford, Carey hit a two-run triple to give Stanford a lead in a 1987 College World Series game.

In 1988, Carey picked up those four hits in the regional game to send the Cardinal on to Omaha. Then, in Stanford's first game, Carey hit a two run shot and got two other hits.

As a pro, Carey started at single-A Clinton. He hit .242 in 64 games. He returned to Clinton in 1990, playing part of the year at high-A San Jose. He hit .292 between them.

Carey played 1991 back at San Jose. In 99 games, he hit .279. He also got five games at AA Shreveport. In five at bats, he didn't get a hit. It was his final season as a pro.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Juan Belbru, His Run - 26

Juan Belbru went on a run at short-season Hamilton in 1990 that caught the notice of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Belbru smacked nine home runs in 148 at bats, a pace noted in The Post-Dispatch that August.

Despite his run, Belbru's run in pro ball was about to end. That was his fourth season in the pros. It also marked his final season.

Belbru's career began in 1987, signed by the Cardinals as a free agent out of his native Puerto Rico. He has also been credited as Juan Belru.

Belbru started with the Cardinals with rookie Johnson City. He got into 23 games there, hitting .150 with one home run.

He returned to Johnson City for 1988. He hit .230 that year over 64 games. In 1989, at single-A Savannah, he hit just .199 in 91 games. He accumulated seven home runs each season.

In 1990, Belbru played mostly at Hamilton, getting another four games at high-A St. Petersburg. He went 3 for 5, with two runs scored and an RBI in an August game for Hamilton. Overall, he hit .262, with 10 total home runs, ending his career.
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Aug. 11, 1990: Baseball
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,539
Made the Majors:1,016-40.0%
Never Made Majors:1,523-60.0%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 422
10+ Seasons in the Minors:259

Mike Newby, College Transfer - 11

The University of San Diego baseball team took on some transfers for 1988, including pitcher Mike Newby, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The transfers had head coach John Cunningham looking forward to the year.

"I still think we have a good shot at being quite successful this season," Cunningham told The Times. "On paper, we have the makings of a pretty fine team."

Newby went on from San Diego to turn pro. His pro career, however, turned out to be brief. He played a single season.

Newby's career began and ended in 1990, signed by the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent out of San Diego.

Newby's college career started at Mt. San Jacinto College. He then moved to San Diego for 1988. He came on in relief and helped preserve an April 1988 win. In another game that month, Newby shut down opposing hitters for four innings on two hits.

With the Cardinals, Newby played at short-season Hamilton. He got into 24 games, all in relief. He picked up three wins, two saves and a 2.73 ERA, marking the extent of his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,538
Made the Majors:1,016-40.0%
Never Made Majors:1,522-60.0%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 422
10+ Seasons in the Minors:259
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