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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Peter Bauer learned screwball changeup, saw 6 seasons, AA

Pete Bauer 1990 Osceola Astros card

Jackson reliever Pete Bauer developed a unique pitch in the minors, first in the Mets system and then continuing with the Astros, The Jackson Clarion Ledger wrote in July 1991.

The pitch, dubbed "The Freak," was described by The Clarion Ledger as a screwball changeup that usually broke down and away.

"I'll throw it any time, preferably when I'm ahead," Bauer told The Clarion-Ledger then. "Hopefully, when I got two strikes, I can make the hitter chase it."

For Bauer, though, that pitch wasn't enough. That season marked his sixth season as a pro, and also his last. He topped out at AA.

Bauer's career began in 1986, taken by the Mets in the eighth round of the draft out of the University of Minnesota. He was also credited as Peter Bauer.

At Minnesota, Bauer went six innings in a win, working out of early trouble, The St. Cloud Times wrote.

"I wasn't getting a lot on the ball early," Bauer told The Times afterward. " ... All I wanted to do was throw strikes, because with our defense, that's all you have to do."

Bauer started with the Mets at short-season Little Falls and single-A Lynchburg. He went 4-4 on the year in 29 relief appearances, with a 1.96 ERA.

He returned to Lynchburg for 1987. That May, he came on in a game and didn't give up a hit over 2.1 innings of relief, though he walked in a run, The Lynchburg News and Advance wrote.

"I got kind of lucky tonight," Bauer told The News and Advance. "I got behind a lot of the hitters. But I was able to come back for the most part, except for walking in that run."

Bauer played 1988 at single-A Columbia, then made AA Jackson with the Mets for 15 outings in 1989 before moving to the Astros and single-A Osceola.

He then split 1990 between Osceola and AA Columbus, going 4-5 on the year, with a 2.16 ERA in 58 relief outings. He also saved 13.

For 1991, he played back at AA Jackson with the Astros. He saw 46 relief outings, went 3-7, with a 3.81 ERA to end his career.

Pete Bauer 1990 Osceola Astros card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,314
Made the Majors:1,396-32.4%
Never Made Majors:2,918-67.2%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:569
10+ Seasons in the Minors:350

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Kenny Lofton helped teams many ways over 17 majors seasons

Kenny Lofton 1990 Osceola Astros card

As he geared up for a new season with his new team in early April 1997, Kenny Lofton explained his game to The Atlanta Constitution.

He was the type of player, he told The Constitution, who was going to go out there and give 110 percent each day.

"A lot of times, I play when I'm hurt. I feel my presence there is needed," Lofton told The Constitution. "If I can't do it offensively, I'll do it defensively. I feel if I can't help you one way, I'll help you another."

Lofton, a veteran of three previous All-Star games with the Indians, went out there and made another one that year with the Braves in 1997. He then saw two more in a career that spanned 17 major league seasons.

Throughout, he used his speed, ending with 622 stolen bases, good for 15th all time.

Lofton's career began in 1988, taken by the Astros in the 17th round of the draft out of the University of Arizona.

Lofton started with the Astros at short-season Auburn. He made single-A Asheville for 1989 and high-A Osceola for 1990. He then saw AAA Tucson for 1991 and then Houston that same year.

Lofton saw 20 games that first year with the Astros. He then moved to the Indians and became a major league regular. 

"He hasn't played very much, but his baseball sense and instincts are very good," Cleveland first base coach Dave Nelson told The Los Angeles Times that May in 1992. "He's not doing this on sheer speed."

Lofton ended up playing 148 games that year. He stole 66 bases to lead the league, the first of five-straight seasons where he would do so. 

In 1993, he stole 70 bases and hit .325. Lofton earned his first All-Star nod in 1994, his first of six straight.

In 1995, he helped the Indians to the World Series, scoring from second on a passed ball in one ALCS game.

"I think that's basically a lead-off hitter's job, to get on base and make things happen," Lofton told The Associated Press then. "That's what I try to do."

Lofton continued with the Indians through 2001. He then went through eight different organizations into 2007 before returning to the Indians. 

Lofton ended with 2,103 total games played, a .299 batting average and those 622 steals.

Lofton has since turned to filmmaking. And, after failing to make it past the first ballot in Hall of Fame voting, he held out hope that he'd one day make it through the veteran's committee.

"They know the era I played in and all the things I was dealing with. I played against steroids guys and I still was competing during that time," Lofton told the New York Post in 2019. "At my position, I felt like I stood out."

Kenny Lofton 1990 Osceola Astros card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,313
Made the Majors:1,396-32.4%-X
Never Made Majors:2,917-67.2%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:569-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:350

Monday, February 19, 2024

Scott Makarewicz thought big things at AA, saw 10 seasons

Scott Makarewicz 1990 Osceola Astros card

Scott Makarewicz stepped to the plate in this July 1992 game for AA Jackson with the go-ahead run on third and one out in the ninth. His thoughts, he told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger: Big things.

"I went up there saying, 'Hey, this is it. This is what gets you to the big leagues," Makarewicz told The Clarion-Ledger.

Makarewicz ended up getting a single to bring in the run. In a career that spanned a decade in the pros, though, he never did make the majors. He topped out at AAA.

Makarewicz' career began in 1989, taken by the Astros in the sixth round of the draft out of Michigan State University.

Makarewicz started with the Astros at short-season Auburn. He hit .241 over 61 games. He then moved to high-A Osceola and AA Columbus for 1990. He hit .277 in 93 games at Osceola. He also made the Florida State League All-Star team.

"We want to go out there and make a contribution," Makarewicz told The Orlando Sentinel after his selection. "This is a game that brings all of the league's best and we're glad to be a part of it. We'll be out there to have fun, but we also will play to win."

He then played 1991 at AA Jackson, then 1992 and 1993 there. He made AAA Tucson for 1994 and saw 63 games, hitting .287.

Makarewicz returned to Tucson for 1995, then moved to the Tigers system and AA Jacksonville in 1996 and AAA Toledo in 1997. Makarewicz played his final season in 198, between the Marlins and Astros systems.

By 2016, Makarewicz had settled in Florida heading the Florida Collegiate Summer League's Winter Park Diamond Dawgs, coaching his son, The Sentinel wrote.

"It's the American pasttime," Malarewicz told The Sentinel then. "Sports is big in my family, and I know that sports keeps families together. It's a good connection, hard work, goal-setting. I just helps you grow in life."

Scott Makarewicz 1990 Osceola Astros card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,312
Made the Majors:1,395-32.4%
Never Made Majors:2,917-67.2%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:568
10+ Seasons in the Minors:350-X

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Todd Jones fulfilled potential over 16 ML seasons, 319 saves

Todd Jones 1990 Osceola Astros card

Todd Jones had some control problems his final year of college at Jacksonville State, The Atlanta Journal wrote in June 1989.

His body of work, though, still got him selected late in the first round.

"I had a real up-and-down year," Jones told The Journal after his selection. "But professional scouts look more to what you are going to be able to do than what your statistics are."

For Jones, what he was able to do turned out not only to make the majors, but remain there for 16 seasons. He also became among the top closers in the game.

Jones' career began that year in 1989, taken by the Astros 27th overall out of Jacksonville State.

Jones started at short-season Auburn. He made high-A Osceola for 1990, then AA Jackson for 1991 and AAA Tucson and then Houston in 1993.

"I wasn't expecting this at all," Jones told The Atlanta Constitution after his callup in July. "I was kind of walking on air. But it's starting to sink in now."

Jones saw 27 relief appearances with two saves that first year. He then saved five in 1994, then 15 in 1995. Jones saved at least 10 games in 11 of his 16 seasons.

He moved to the Tigers for 1997 in a trade and saved 31 in 68 appearances. Jones impressed out of spring training, The Detroit Free Press wrote.

"If there's one guy that's caught my attention in camp so far, it's Jones," Detroit manager Buddy Bell told The Free Press. "I'm really impressed with his stuff."

He saved 28 in 1998, 30 in 1999 and then 42 in 2000. He also made the All-Star team in 2000.

He saw 69 outings between Detroit and Minnesota in 2001, 79 in 2002 with Colorado, 59 between Colorado and Boston in 2003 and 78 in 2004 between Cincinnati and Philadelphia, while not closing.

Jones returned to closing in 2004 with Florida, saving 40. He saved 37 and 38 in 2006 and 2007 back with Detroit. He then ended his career with 45 outings, 18 saves with Detroit in 2008.

He saved 319 total games over his career.

Going into 2008, Jones spoke to The Free Press about his philosophy, calling it "Christian-based."

"I still mess up all the time. I'm not perfect," Jones told The Free Press. "But I try to be accountable. I try to reflect what I try to believe in."

Jones is serving in 2024 as a Tigers TV analyst for Bally Sports.

Todd Jones 1990 Osceola Astros card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,311
Made the Majors:1,395-32.4%-X
Never Made Majors:2,916-67.2%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:568-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:349

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Howard Prager swung bat well in AAA game, saw seven seasons

In his seventh season as a pro in 1995, Louisville Redbird Howard Prager struggled to get playing time, The Louisville Courier-Journal wrote.

But when he did get in, he showed what he could do, including in a June game where he hit a home run, a double and stole a base, The Courier-Journal wrote.

"We keep bringing in people to play first base in front of him, but he can play at this level," Louisville manager Joe Pettini told The Courier-Journal of Prager. "Not only did he swing the bat tonight, he made some good plays at first base."

However well he did that night, Prager's time in the pros ended with that year. He missed the bigs.

Prager's career began in 1989, taken by the Astros in the 31st round of the draft out of the University of Texas at Arlington.

Prager started with the Astros at short-season Auburn. He saw 73 games and hit .335. He moved to high-A Osceola for 1990. He hit .248 in 99 games.

For 1991, Prager spent much of the season at AA Jackson. He saw 109 games there and hit .305. He had a shot to add to a ninth-inning rally that August, but he hit one back to the mound, The Jackson Clarion-Ledger wrote.

"In that situation, I knew he'd go right at me," Prager told The Clarion-Ledger of the 3-1 count. "He's throwing his best stuff. I'm a fastball hitter and he challenged me. He won this time."

Prager played 1992 back at Jackson, then moved to the Cardinals system and AA Arkansas and AAA Louisville for 1993. He then returned to Louisville for 1994 and 1995 to end his career.

Prager soon returned home to Texas and became a youth coach, his son Ryan Prager going on to play in college.

Howard Prager 1990 Osceola Astros card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,310
Made the Majors:1,394-32.3%
Never Made Majors:2,916-67.7%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:567
10+ Seasons in the Minors:349

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Cole Hyson gave best shot over 5 seasons, opened pawn shop

Cole Hyson 1990 Osceola Astros card

Cole Hyson's Durango High School football team headed to the league title in 1985. Their opponent: undefeated Grand Junction, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel wrote.

"We'll give it our best shot; we'll come out and play hard," Hyson, Durango's quarterback, told The Daily Sentinel. "I'll just try to find the open man, and don't let the guys get down."

Hyson went on from high school football to play baseball in college and the pros. His pro baseball career lasted five seasons. He made AA.

Hyson's career began in 1989, taken by the Astros in the ninth round of the draft out of the University of Arkansas.

Hyson started with the Astros at short-season Auburn. He saw 15 outings, 12 starts, with a 3.69 ERA. 

He moved to high-A Osceola for 1990 and returned there for 1991. He went 6-12 there in 1990 and 8-10 there for 1991.

Hyson moved to the Padres system for 1992. He saw 24 relief outings. He ended with a 6.18 ERA. He returned in 1994 to AA Wichita. He saw a single outing, giving up four earned in two thirds of an inning. An arm injury lead to the end of his career.

Hyson soon returned home to Durango and ran a pawn shop, which he opened before his career ended

"When I came home in the offseason, it was hard to find a job. Everybody knew I was gonna be leaving for spring training," Hyson told The Durango Herald. "So, I ended up having an idea. My mom's family in Kansas had just opened their second pawn shop. And I went out and spent some time with them for five days and tried to figure something out, and I came back and opened up."

He ran the shop for 29 years before closing it in 2020.

Cole Hyson 1990 Osceola Astros card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,309
Made the Majors:1,394-32.4%
Never Made Majors:2,915-67.6%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:567
10+ Seasons in the Minors:349

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Lance Madsen tried to relax, concentrate, saw 6 seasons, AAA

Lance Madsen 1990 Osceola Astros card

Lance Madson started slowly at AA Jackson in 1993, hitting just .188 by mid-May, The Jackson Clarion-Ledger wrote.

But in this game, he hit a home run, his eighth on the year to lead the league, The Clarion-Ledger wrote.

"I know I have power," Madson told The Clarion-Ledger afterward. "But for me to be the best hitter I can be, I need to relax and concentrate on hitting line drives."

Madson eventually turned it around enough that year to make AAA the next. But, in a career that spanned six seasons, he fell short of the bigs.

Madson's career started in 1989, taken by the Astros in the 12th round of the draft out of the University of Utah.

Madsen moved to the pros after having a big impact at Utah, as his coach wondered how to replace the three-time all-conference outfielder, according to The Daily Utah Chronicle.

"I don't know if you can ever replace a Lance Madsen," Utah coach Rick Sofield told The Chronicle. "I think you just have to find someone to play centerfield and hope the guy gives his best for you every day."

Madson started with the Astros at short-season Auburn. He hit .265 in 59 games, with nine home runs.

He moved to high-A Osceola in 1990 and hit .244 on the year. He then made AA Jackson for 1991 and stayed there for three seasons. He hit .23 home runs at Jackson in 1993, while hitting .221.

Madson helped Jackson to the 1993 Texas League playoffs. He also hoped he'd done enough to make AAA the next season, he told The Clarion-Ledger.

"I would hope I do (get a shot at Triple-A)" Madson told The Clarion-Ledger that September, "but it's out of my control. I hope one way or another Houston makes a move with me. I feel like I've done some good things this year."

Madson did make AAA in 1994, but saw only 41 games. He hit .151 with no home runs to end his minor league career.

Lance Madsen 1990 Osceola Astros card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,308
Made the Majors:1,394-32.4%
Never Made Majors:2,914-67.6%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:567
10+ Seasons in the Minors:349