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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Burgess Watts expressed confidence in college: Saw four pro seasons, at third and on mound, made high-A

The College of DuPage baseball team emerged from sectionals in 1990 confident and infielder Burgess Watts expressed that to The Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

"There isn't anybody they can throw against us that we can't hit," Watts told The Daily Herald that May. "That's the way we think. That's the way we feel."

Watts took that confidence from college on to the pros. His pro career lasted four seasons, including two seasons spent on the mound. He topped out at high-A.

Watts' pro career began that year in 1990, taken by the Dodgers in the 19th round of the draft out of DuPage.

Watts went to DuPage out of Wheaton Central High School in Illinois, where he also played quarterback in football. He played quarterback well enough there that his coach told The Chicago Tribune in August 1984 that Watts could be "the best we've ever had here."

On the baseball field at DuPage, Watts hit a May 1989 grand slam that sealed a win. He then conference Player of the Year honors in May 1990.

Watts started with the Dodgers at rookie Great Falls. He saw 51 games as a third baseman and hit .267. He had a scare in an August game, when he was hit in the chest by a pitch and taken by ambulance to the hospital. He was treated and released and then played the next night.

Watts moved to high-A Bakersfield and short-season Yakima for 1991. He hit .290 overall in 58 games.

Watts then moved to the mound and back to Yakima. He got into 24 outings there, starting one. He went 4-2, with four saves and a 3.58 ERA.

He then returned to Bakersfield for 10 more outings in 1993. He gave up 16 earned in 22.2 innings to end his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,383
Made the Majors:1,199-35.4%
Never Made Majors:2,184-64.6%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 498
10+ Seasons in the Minors:290

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Lonnie Webb did his job as leadoff man in 1990; Saw four seasons, hit high-A

Great Falls leadoff hitter Lonnie Webb did his job to start this game and got on base with a single this night in August 1990, The Great Falls Tribune wrote. The guy who followed Webb, then did his with a home run.

That leadoff hit also marked the first of three hits he had on the night, as Great Falls went on to a 13-2 win, The Tribune wrote.

"When your leadoff hitter gets a base hit and the next guy homers, that sets the tone," Great Falls manager Joe Vavra told The Tribune afterward.

Webb went on to hit in four pro seasons, but he never got to set the tone as a leadoff man in the majors. He played three of his campaigns at high-A, but didn't make it higher.

Webb's career began in 1990, taken by the Dodgers in the 18th round of the draft out of South Georgia College.

Webb started with the Dodgers at rookie Great Falls. He went 2 for 2 in a late-season win. He then picked up three hits in a playoff win the next week. Overall, he hit .331 over 40 games.

Webb then moved to high-A Bakersfield for 1991. He hit a leadoff home run in a July game, one of six home runs he hit on the year. He hit .291 over 87 games in all.

Webb returned to Bakersfield for 1992, where he hit .258. He then moved to high-A Vero Beach for 1993. He saw 31 games. He hit his second of two home runs in a May game. Those 31 games proved the last of his career.

1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,382
Made the Majors:1,199-35.5%
Never Made Majors:2,183-64.5%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 498
10+ Seasons in the Minors:290

Monday, May 25, 2020

Gordie Tipton helped pitch his college team to the World Series title game; Saw three pro seasons

Gordie Tipton's Oklahoma State Cowboys won big in this 1990 College World Series game and Oklahoma State coach Gary Ward pointed to Tipton's pitching as the big reason why, according to DataOmaha.com.

Tipton pitched eight innings, gave up four hits and struck out seven to help his team on to the title game, according to the site.

"I think the turning point was how Tipton performed after the second inning," Ward told reporters, according to the site. "He turned it around and completely dominated the game from that point. I think that lifted us more than anything. Gordie really responded."

Tipton soon found himself performing in the pros. He ultimately played three professional seasons. He topped out at high-A.

Tipton's career began that year in 1990, taken by the Dodgers in the 26th round of the draft out of Oklahoma State. Tipton was also credited by his formal name, Gordon Tipton.

Tipton started with the Dodgers at rookie Great Falls and he pitched well. He saw 24 games in relief, picked up six wins, seven saves and ended with a 1.50 ERA.

His performance on the year earned him the club's top pitching award (on a staff that included Pedro Martinez), according to The Great Falls Tribune.

"I never expected or planned to win any awards when I came here this summer," Tipton told The Tribune then. "I didn't set any numbers goals, just some mental goals."

Tipton moved to high-A Bakersfield for 1991. He got into 43 games in relief there and saved 14. He ended with a 3.13 ERA. He won player of the week honors in May as he won two and saved two.

He then returned to Bakersfield for 1992. He saw five outings, 8.2 innings, and gave up no earned runs. Those five outings, though, proved the last of his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,381
Made the Majors:1,199-35.5%
Never Made Majors:2,182-64.5%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 498
10+ Seasons in the Minors:290

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Mike Frauenhoffer helped his college to three NAIA World Series appearances; Saw single pro season

The 1990 season underway, The Great Falls Tribune asked the rookie league Dodgers, including Mike Frauenhoffer, about their greatest thrill.

Frauenhoffer looked to his college accomplishments for his: "Three NAIA World Series appearances," his Tribune entry read.

While he appeared in those three series for the College of St. Francis, Frauenhoffer's professional appearances proved limited. He played that one season at Great Falls and got into 41 games, marking the extent of his pro career.

Frauenhoffer's pro career began and ended that year in 1990, signed by the Dodgers out of the the College of St. Francis in Illinois.

At St. Francis, Frauenhoffer helped his school to those NAIA appearances and helped them in the appearances. 

He hit .375 in 1989 and helped eliminate IUPUI with an 11th inning single. In the 1990 tournament, he led the field with 20 assists. He also knocked in two runs in one series win and three in another off a triple and two doubles.

At Great Falls, Frauenhoffer picked up three singles and a sacrifice fly in a July game. He also doubled in a playoff win that September. Overall, he got into those 41 games, hit .231, with 12 RBI in his only season as a pro.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,380
Made the Majors:1,199-35.5%
Never Made Majors:2,181-64.5%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 498
10+ Seasons in the Minors:290

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Kevin Belcher instructed AA team on unwritten baseball rule; Saw 16 major league games

Originally published June 29, 2011
The Jackson Mets broke an unwritten baseball rule and Kevin Belcher took it upon himself to instruct them.

Up 10-1 on Belcher's Tulsa Drillers, Jackson runner Terry McDaniel stole second, The Orlando Sentinel wrote. Belcher, serving as designated hitter, responded by yelling at McDaniel. Belcher was ejected. Seven others would also be tossed after the ensuing bench-clearing brawl.

"That stolen base got my players upset," Tulsa Manager Tommy Thompson told The Sentinel after that June 1990 game. "We don't try to show up professionals. They had a big lead at the time."

Belcher took that passion from AA Tulsa in June 1990, all the way to majors by September. The 16 games he got into that year, though, were the only 16 games he would see in the majors.

Belcher's career began in 1987, taken by the Rangers in the sixth round of the draft out of Navarro College. Belcher played that first year in the rookie Gulf Coast League, hitting .209 in 58 games.

For 1988, Belcher moved to single-A Gastonia, hitting .245 and eight home runs. He returned to Gastonia in 1989, this time hitting .296 with 14 home runs. He hit one of those home runs in an April 27 game. He hit a three-run shot May 26. He also made the All-Star team.

It was in 1990 that Belcher made AA Tulsa. He hit .293 with 11 home runs. He also got a September call-up to Texas.

Belcher got into 16 games, with 15 official at bats. He got two hits. He also scored four runs, scoring one Sept. 10 as a pinch runner.

Belcher returned to the minors for 1991, splitting time between Tulsa and AAA Oklahoma City. After another year at Tulsa in 1992, Belcher arrived with the White Sox system for 1993.

Belcher played that year, his final year, at AA Birmingham. He hit .222, with 13 home runs. He hit one of his home runs Aug. 22 in a Birmingham loss.

Pedro Martinez showed 'unlimited potential' in rookie ball; He then made the Hall of Fame

Great Falls Dodgers pitching coach Guy Conti seemed to know what he and his organization had on their hands in young right-hander Pedro Martinez in 1990, according to The Great Falls Tribune.

After a rain-shortened outing where Martinez went six, struck out nine, walked two and gave up three earned, Conti offered high praise for Martinez to The Tribune.

"His potential is unlimited," Conti told The Tribune of Martinez then.

The Dodgers organization itself, however, ultimately did not fully realize the pitcher they actually had in Martinez - they traded him away as a reliever just three years later. Martinez soon would realize his potential elsewhere.  

With the Expos, Red Sox and then Mets, Martinez made All-Star teams, won ERA titles, Cy Youngs and a World Series. Then, in 2015, he made the Hall of Fame.

Martinez' road to Cooperstown began in 1988, signed by the Dodgers as a free agent out of his native Dominican Republic. He signed with the club the year his brother Ramon Martinez first made the majors as a Dodger.

Pedro Martinez first saw the minors in 1990, at rookie Great Falls. He saw 14 starts, went 8-3,  with a 3.62 ERA and struck out 82 over 77 innings of work.

He then quickly moved up. He saw high-A Bakersfield, AA San Antonio and AAA Albuquerque, all in 1991 and returned to Albuquerque for 1992. Then, in September 1992, he debuted in Los Angeles.

Martinez saw two outings with the Dodgers that September, one start and one in relief. He gave up two earned in eight innings. 

He returned to Los Angeles for 1993, playing alongside his brother. He also played the year as a reliever. He saw 63 outings and started two. He still won 10 games to five losses and turned in a 2.61 ERA. Martinez even saved two games.

But that November, the Dodgers traded Martinez to the Expos for second baseman Delino DeShields. Dodgers executive vice president Fred Claire explained the deal then to The Los Angeles Daily News.

"It is difficult to give up a pitcher of Pedro Martinez' caliber," Claire told The Daily News. "But when you're acquiring a 24-year-old second baseman who is one of the real talents of the game today, it helps."

The Los Angeles Times later called the trade Claire's "albatross." 

Martinez arrived in Montreal and turned starter and he would start for the rest of his career. He won 11 games and struck out 142 for the best-record 1994 Expos. He won another 14 and struck out 174 in 1995.

Martinez earned his first of eight All-Star nods in 1996 as he struck out 222. Then, in 1997, he won his first Cy Young - the first Dominican to do so - as he went 17-8, with a 1.90 ERA as he threw 13 complete games and struck out 305.

The Expos then traded Martinez to the Red Sox in a cost-cutting move. After Martinez won the Cy Young, and as the Expos shopped him, his manager with Montreal, Felipe Alou, recognized to The Monteral Gazette who the then-26-year-old Martinez was.

"I want to see him pitch when he's 28, 29, 30," Alou told The Gazette. "He added a pitch this year, a 'cutter,' since the All-Star Game. He's learning. He's getting better. And he's dominant now."

Martinez then went 19-7, with a 2.89 ERA, for the Red Sox in 1998. He then showed his complete dominance in 1999 as he went 23-4, with a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts. He won his second Cy Young that year and third in 2000.

He stayed with the Red Sox through 2004, when he went 16-9, with a 3.90 ERA as he helped  the club to its first World Series title in 86 years.

Martinez signed with the Mets for 2005 and saw his seventh and eighth All-Star appearances there. He last played with the Phillies in 2009.

Martinez finished his career with a 219-100 record over 18 seasons. He ended with a 2.93 ERA and 3,154 strikeouts. His strikeout total is the 13th best all-time.

He won election to the Hall in 2015 on his first ballot, with 91.1 percent of the vote. In his Hall of Fame speech, Martinez told of how he wanted to be remembered. 

"If you ask how I want to be remembered, don't remember me by the numbers I posted," Martinez said in his Hall of Fame speech, as quoted by USA Today. "Don't remember me as being part of an elite class. I want to be remembered as a sign of hope for society, so people understand that they have a way out. All they have to do is go work and dedicate themselves and actually try to find the exit that's out there."
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,379
Made the Majors:1,199-35.5%-X
Never Made Majors:2,180-64.5%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 498-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:290

Friday, May 22, 2020

Don Meyers moved from infielder to catching; Saw three pro seasons, made high-A

Don Meyers started his pro career as an infielder. By his second year, though, he made the switch to catcher as the organization had a glut of infield prospects ahead of him, his hometown Sacramento Bee wrote.

Meyers found the transition to be a good one, he told The Bee in August 1991.

"I feel great about being a catcher," Meyers told The Bee as he still learned the position at short-season Yakima. "It's a lot more fun. You're in on every pitch, calling the game. I enjoy throwing runners out. I've been throwing really well to second, and  I've been blocking the ball well."

While he made the transition to catcher, Meyers could make the transition to a much higher level. He returned for a third campaign, one at high-A, but that marked the highest he got.

Meyers' career began in 1990, taken by the Dodgers in the 52nd round of the draft out of Sacramento City College.

Meyers started with the Dodgers at rookie Great Falls. That summer, The Great Falls Tribune asked players their greatest thrill to that point. Meyers selected "winning Palamino World Series against Hawaii."

With Great Falls, Meyers got into 38 games as a first baseman and third baseman. He also caught one game. He hit .326 over those 38 games. He singled in a July rally against Salt Lake. He then knocked three singles in a win later that month.

Meyers moved to Yakima for 1991. He hit .312 there over 50 games. He saw 12 total games at catcher and played his other time on the infield.

For 1992, he made high-A Bakersfield. He got into 20 games on the year and hit .161 to end his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,378
Made the Majors:1,198-35.5%
Never Made Majors:2,180-64.5%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 497
10+ Seasons in the Minors:290