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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Tom Popplewell took simple formula to nine pro seasons; Made AAA

The El Paso Diablos had a simple formula in this April 1994 5-3 win, manager Tim Ireland told The El Paso Times.

"Timely hitting," Ireland told The Times, "and (Tom) Popplewell."

Popplewell came on late in that game to record his fourth save of the year as he recorded five outs. He picked up that save in his eighth season as a pro. He played in one more. He topped out at AAA.

Popplewell's career began in 1987, taken by the Yankees in the sixth round of the draft out of Miami-Dade College. He went to Miami out of Fairfield High School in Ohio. He was also credited as Pop Popplewell.

At Fairfield, Popplewell also played basketball and football. He served as a punter on the football team and executed a trick play in an October 1985 game to throw for a first down, The Cincinnati Enquirer wrote.

"The first time we punted there was no one lined up over our left end, Robbie Payne," Popplewell told The Enquirer. "I told him to go 10 (yards) out and do it quick."

He then went to Miami-Dade and went 4-3 there in spring 1987, with a 3.48 ERA. He also hit .250.

He started with the Yankees at short-season Oneonta. He went 4-6, with a 5.10 ERA. He moved to single-A Prince William for 1988. He went 4-12 there, with a 5.56 mark. 

He went the distance late that August for Prince William, his only complete game of the year, after getting pummeled in a previous start, The Raleigh News and Observer wrote.

"Tonight he had better stuff and threw strikes," one person was quoted by The News and Observer as saying.

Popplewell moved to high-A Fort Lauderdale, then saw 14 outings at AA Albany-Colonie in 1990. He went 8-2 there, with a 4.08 ERA.

He saw Albany-Colonie for all of 1991 and most of 1992.  He also saw four outings at AAA Columbus in 1992 and one more there in 1993. 

He moved to the Brewers system for 1994. He played at AA El Paso and AAA New Orleans. He returned to both for 1995, and saw 15 outings with the Indians at AA Canton-Akron that year to end his career.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,640
Made the Majors:1,249-34.3%
Never Made Majors:2,391-65.7%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:520
10+ Seasons in the Minors:307

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