Thursday, February 11, 2016

Jeff Milene, Remained Upbeat - 8

Originally published Oct. 11, 2014
Jeff Milene was in his second season as a pro in 1989. He was also in his second season at rookie Elizabethton, injuries helping limit his time and keep him there, according to The Rochester Post-Bulletin.

Milene, though, remained upbeat, he told The Post-Bulletin.

"Baseball has a lot of ups and downs," Milene told The Post-Bulletin that July. "You sit for a week and you get down, but I decided to not let it affect me. I know I'm just 19 years old and I'll wait for my turn."

For Milene, though, his turn never came. He played in just one more season as a pro. He never made AA.

Milene's career began in 1988, taken by the Twins in the 21st round of the draft out of Mayo High School in Rochester, Minn.

Milene started with the Twins at Elizabethton. He got into eight games that year. He then returned there for 1989, getting into just 14 contests. Between the two seasons, he picked up a total of eight hits.

For 1990, Milene moved to single-A Kenosha and then to high-A Visalia. He got two games at Kenosha and 22 at Visalia. He hit just .106 total, ending his professional career.

Milene soon returned to Rochester, but he continued playing. He served as player and manager for the Rochester Royals amateur baseball team for 11 seasons, ending in 2004.

In June 1999, Milene's Royals hit themselves to a 17-0 win, according to The Post-Bulletin.

"We swung the bat well; everyone hit the ball well at least once," Milene told The  Post-Bulletin. "We have as good an offense as there is in the state."

Jayson Best, Those Traits - 17

Originally published Oct. 11, 2014
Jayson Best looked for guys that went hard between the lines. He also looked for guys who could do the fundamentals soundly, according to The Elkhart Truth.

Best made the comments in a press release issued to announce his appointment as head baseball coach at Goshen College in Indiana.

"I'm a firm believer that you can't get better without practicing like you play," Best said, according to The Truth, "and I aspire to continue to have a team that displays those traits."

Best became head coach at Goshen after a stint as an assistant coach there. Before that, he spent seven season as a pro player. He made it to AA, but he didn't make it higher.

Best's career began in 1989, signed by the Twins as an undrafted free agent out of Milligan College.

Best started with the Twins at rookie Elizabethton. The hurler went 7-1, with a 2.36 ERA in 12 outings, nine starts.

He played 1990 between single-A Kenosha and high-A Visalia. He went 9-7 between them, with a 3.88 ERA. His time with Kenosha resulted in a Midwest League All-Star nod.

Best again split his time between Kenosha and Visalia in 1991. He also turned reliever, getting 38 outings, six starts.

In 1992, Best got his first look at AA, getting 11 relief outings at Orlando. He turned in a sterling 0.79 ERA and saved four, one in a late-August game.

Earlier that year, Best struck out the side in a relief inning of a Fort Myers win. He then picked up a two-inning save in a June game.

Best returned to AA in 1993 at Nashville. He got into only three games, an elbow injury ending his affiliated career.

Best is later credited as returning to the field in independent ball. He's listed as playing parts of 1996 and 1997 for independent Lafayette of the Heartland League, ending his playing career.

By 1999, Best was at Goshen. He spent five seasons as assistant coach before being named head coach in 2004. His time as head coach was brief, but successful. He ended with a 20-14 career record at the school.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Julio Bruno, Loves Baseball - 5

Originally published July 30, 2014
Spokane manager Gene Glynn was impressed with his young infielder Julio Bruno in 1990, according to The Spokane Spokesman-Review.

The 17-year-old showed maturity, Glynn told the paper.

"You can tell he loves baseball," Glynn told The Spokesman-Review. "With his great work habits, he's brought a lot of respect from the other players."

Bruno took those work habits to a long career as a player, spending more than a decade as a pro. Those work habits, though, weren't enough to get him to the majors.

Bruno has since taken his love for baseball and returned to the game as a coach. For 2014, he's serving as a coach in the Royals system at rookie Idaho Falls.

Bruno's career began that year in 1990, signed by the Padres as a free agent out of his native Dominican Republic.

He played his first season between short-season Spokane and single-A Charleston. He hit .245, with 27 RBI. He knocked in a run on a single in an August game.

He moved to single-A Waterloo for 1991, then made AA Wichita in 1993. That year in 1993, Bruno hit .295 between Wichita and high-A Rancho Cucamonga.

In 1994, he made AAA Las Vegas. That spring, the third baseman Bruno had a good diving catch down the line. "I just kind of reacted," Bruno explained to The Associated Press later.

That April, Bruno doubled and scored the extra-inning winning run in a game. Overall, Bruno hit .260 at AAA that year, with six home runs and 52 RBI.

After playing the next two seasons between AA Memphis and Las Vegas without seeing San Diego, Bruno got into one more year in affiliated ball in the Tigers organization. He played his final three years in Mexico, last playing in 2000.

By 2008, Bruno was back in the game, serving as manager of the Royals entry in the Arizona League. In 2012, he was hitting coach at single-A Kane County.

Bruno not only coaches, but he helps his Latin players assimilate into the culture, according to The Kane County Chronicle.

"Not only in the baseball area, but also as a person," Bruno told The Chronicle, "I feel like I can teach about my past, my life and I think that will help."

For 2014, Bruno is serving as bench coach for the Chukars at Idaho Falls.

Marc Lipson, Got Recognized - 20

Originally published Oct. 5, 2014
One of Marc Lipson's players at Mount de Sales Academy committed to a local college in November 2011 and Lipson knew how important that was.

"This is a very big deal," Lipson told Georgia TV station WMAZ. "It's very difficult for kids to be recognized by colleges these days and to secure some kind of financial assistance to play the sport they love."

Lipson was recognized years earlier enough to play at the University of Georgia and in the pros. His pro career was one where he saw four seasons and made AA. But he never made the majors.

Lipson's pro career began in 1989, signed by the Twins as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia.

At the University of Georgia, Lipson went 9.2 innings in the May 1988 SEC tournament without giving up a run. He, along with teammate Steve Muh drew praise from their coach Steve Webber, according to The Gainesville Sun.

"The way Muh and Lipson were able to stop a strong hitting Kentucky team was the whole story," Webber told The Sun after the win.

That March, Lipson pitched three innings without giving up a run in a Georgia win.

With the Twins, Lipson played his first season between the rookie Gulf Coast League and Elizabethton. In 33 relief outings between them, Lipson had a 2.54 ERA and 10 saves.

He moved to single-A Kenosha and high-A Visalia for 1990. In 64 outings on the year, he had a 2.27 ERA.

Lipson returned to Visalia for 1991, getting 49 relief outings and a 3.64 ERA. He then split 1992 between high-A Fort Myers and AA Orlando. At Orlando, he had 31 relief outings and a 5.45 ERA. It was his final season as a pro.

Lipson has since gone on to be a teacher and a high school coach at Mount de Sales Academy in Macon, Ga.

Randy Knorr, Stayed Ready - 26

Originally published Dec. 5, 2011
Randy Knorr didn't play every day. But when he did play, he was ready.

That showed in September 1993, when the catcher came in for the resting starter Pat Borders and hit a three-run home run, The Associated Press wrote.

"I talk to a lot of the guys as much as I can to be ready when I get to play," Knorr told The AP after that Toronto win. "You're anxious and you want to do well."

It was a role Knorr played throughout his career, one that spanned 11 major league seasons, with Knorr having to be ready for whenever his team needed him. In those 11 seasons, Knorr never got into more than 45 major league games in any one year.

More recently, Knorr has made himself ready to be a major league bench coach, after a post-playing career spent as a manager in the minors. It has also even been suggested he may already be ready for a career as a manager in the majors.

Knorr's playing career began in 1986, taken by the Blue Jays in the 10th round of the draft, out of Baldwin Park High School in California.

Knorr played that first year at short-season Medicine Hat. He didn't make AA until 1990, at Knoxville. He moved to AAA Syracuse in 1991. That September, he debuted in Toronto.

Knorr got into three games for the Blue Jays that September, getting one at bat. He returned for eight more games in 1992, with 19 at bats.

In 1993, Knorr got into 39 games for the Blue Jays. Later in September, Knorr was a home run away from the cycle, getting a single, double, and triple in a win against Milwaukee.

Knorr went on to get into 40 games in 1994 and 45 in 1995. He went on to play in the Astros, Marlins and Rangers organizations, getting brief major league looks each year through 2000.

In 2001, Knorr signed on with the organization he remains with, the Expos. He got into 34 final games that season, hitting a two-run home run in early April off the Mets' Steve Trachsel. "I think he threw a pitch he didn't want to throw," Knorr told The AP afterward.

Knorr continued playing at AAA with the Expos through 2004, first at Ottawa, then at Edmonton.

His playing days over, Knorr stayed with the franchise, signing on as manager at single-A Savannah for 2005. He has since served as manager at Potomac, Harrisburg and Syracuse. He's also served as Nationals bullpen coach in 2006 and 2009.

Knorr served as Syracuse manager in 2011, leading the team to a 66-74 record. Despite that mark, Knorr saw positives, especially after a 27-42 start.

"We could have just gone in the tank," Knorr told The Syracuse Post-Standard. "When we were 15 games under .500, we could have gone the other way and just fallen off. But the guys didn’t. They kept going. They kept pushing it."

It was his work with the Nationals minor leaguers that got Knorr a spot as Nationals bench coach for 2012. The Washington Times wrote that Knorr would also be on the short list to succeed Davey Johnson as Nationals manager. For 2016, he's serving as a Nationals special baseball adviser.

"I think that [experience in the system] probably put me on the top of the list because I have had [those players] and have a good relationship with most of them," Knorr told The Times. "I feel like I can get the most out of them."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dan Fox, Took Him - 29

Dan Fox' career helping players come back from injury started with is own injury suffered playing football in college, according to The Hudson Star Observer.

From that injury, Fox recalled to The Star Observer in 2006, came a career as a trainer that he loved.

"I don't know what else I would do," Fox told The Star Observer. "You can either fight it (injury) or go with it and let it take you where it takes you."

Fox' injury has taken him to well over a quarter century working with players both in the pros and at younger levels, helping to ensure they return from injury and stay healthy.

Fox started at the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse, graduating from there and becoming a trainer in the minors.

He served as trainer with the Twins at single-A Kenosha in 1989 and 1990. He also served as a trainer for the Kalamazoo Wings minor league hockey team.

Fox stayed with the Twins as a trainer for the next decade. He then moved to Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne as head athletic trainer there into 2013. He's listed in 2016 as an athletic trainer with Ortho Northeast.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,265
Made the Majors: 945-41.7%
Never Made Majors:1,320-58.3%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 396
10+ Seasons in the Minors:240

Randy Gentile, Clutch Performer - 3

Originally published Oct. 2, 2014
Randy Gentile didn't just pitch a no-hitter for his high school team in 1985, he pitched in a game that locked his team in for a conference championship tie, according to The Milwaukee Journal.

Gentile struck out eight in the 5-1 the Kenosha St. Joseph High School victory, The Journal wrote.

"(Gentile) came up with the good game at the right time," St. Joseph coach Nick Perrine told The Journal. "But he's been our clutch performer all year."

Gentile went on from St. Joseph to Illinois State University, where he played as a fielder. From Illinois State, Gentile turned pro with the Twins. He also returned to Kenosha.

His pro career, though, was brief. It lasted just two seasons, his second spent with the hometown single-A Kenosha Twins.

Gentile's pro career began in 1989, taken by the Twins in the 37th round of the draft out of Illinois State.

At Illinois State, Gentile won all-conference honorable mention in 1989.

With the Twins, Gentile started at rookie Elizabethton. He also focused solely on fielding, playing third base. In 61 games there in 1989, he hit .270, with three home runs and 38 RBI.

For 1990, Gentile was assigned to his hometown team, the Midwest League's Kenosha Twins. In 80 games, though, his batting average dropped to .209. He hit seven home runs, knocking in 34. It was his final season as a pro.

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