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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Todd Blakeman drew good comparisons: Baseball Profiles

Todd Blakeman 1990 Elizabethton Twins card

Lake Land College coach Gene Creek saw big talent in his first baseman Todd Blakeman, enough to make some big comparisons, according to The Herold and Review in April 1990.

Blakeman, Creek told The Herold and Review, might be as good as two others he once coached, major leaguers Gary Gaetti and Glenn Brummer.

"Todd has put up statistics just as good as Gaetti or Brummer," Creek told The Herold and Review. "If that's any indication of his potential, he has a great future ahead of him."

Blakeman eventually did turn pro, but he never could come close to the heights of Gaetti or Brummer. Blakeman saw three pro seasons. He topped out at single-A.

Blakeman's career began that year in 1990, signed by the Twins out of Lake Land College in Illinois. 

Blakeman began with the Twins at rookie Elizabethton. He got into 49 games and hit .233. He also hit five home runs.

Blakeman was pleased with how his first year went, he told The Mattoon Journal Gazette in March 1991.

"That first year was really good experience for me," Blakeman told The Journal Gazette. "It matured me both as a player and person."

Blakeman played 1991 at single-A Kenosha. He saw 113 games and hit .205. He then returned to Kenosha for 1992. He played in just 35 games and hit .212. That second season at Kenosha proved his last as a pro.

Blakeman soon returned home to Illinois and became a teacher and high school basketball coach. He coached 16 seasons before stepping away briefly in 2021 with a 270-200 record. He returned in 2023.

"I think his record speaks volumes," Glenwood athletic director Dusty Burk told The Springfield State Journal-Register after his 2021 departure. "He's really elevated our program substantially. He's always done a tremendous job getting the most out of kids. He's been a great coach for us."

Todd Blakeman 1990 Elizabethton Twins card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,401
Made the Majors:1,416-32.2
Never Made Majors:2,985-67.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:577
10+ Seasons in the Minors:354

Monday, July 15, 2024

Matt Morse knew lady luck's pro role: Baseball Profiles

Matt Morse 1990 Elizabethton Twins card

Kenosha Twins switch-hitter Matt Morse got on a hot streak early in the 1991 season, The Kenosha News wrote.

After going 2 for 3 in one early May game, he'd raised his average to .422, after the team had had several games postponed due to weather, The News wrote.

"I'm just trying to get base hits and hit the ball where the pitcher pitches it ...," Morse told The News then, "but, really, lady luck has a lot to do with this game."

For Morse, his luck would run out that season, and in his career. He ended with a .226 average. That season, his second, also proved his last. He topped out at single-A.

Morse's career began in 1990, taken by the Twins in the 19th round of the draft out of the University of Michigan.

Morse started with the Twins at rookie Elizabethton. He hit one of several team home runs early in a July game, The Johnson City Press wrote.

"It was one of those days when the ball's flying out of here," Morse told The Press. "Who knows why, you can't explain it."

Morse saw 63 games at Elizabethton overall. He hit .251, with three home runs.

Morse then moved to single-A Kenosha for 1991. He hit a bases-loaded double in a May game, clearing the bases, The South Bend Tribune wrote.

"He threw me his best pitch," Morse told The Tribune of the pitcher. "I had two strikes one me. It was all I could do to make contact."

Morse got into 87 games on the year. He hit .226 to end his career.

Matt Morse 1990 Elizabethton Twins card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,400
Made the Majors:1,416-32.2
Never Made Majors:2,984-67.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:577
10+ Seasons in the Minors:354

Steve Taylor tried pros, made single-A: Baseball Profiles

Steve Taylor 1990 Elizabethton Twins card

Newly signed Twins minor leaguer Steve Taylor wasn't sure where his pro baseball career would go, but he wanted to take a shot, he told his hometown St. Cloud Times in June 1990.

"I'll go down there and see how it goes," Taylor told The Times. "It's not a lot of money. But I'm in no worse condition by going than I am now. I guess I'm taking a two-month chance on my career."

Taylor's two-month chance eventually turned into a little more, but not much. He ultimately saw two seasons. He topped out at single-A.

Taylor's career began that year in 1990, signed by the Twins as an undrafted free agent out of Florida Atlantic University.

Taylor started with the Twins at rookie Elizabethton. He saw 10 relief appearances and picked up four wins and a save. He ended with a 2.30 ERA. That August, he was credited with three strong innings in a win.

He moved to single-A Kenosha for 1990. To start the year, The Kenosha News cited Taylor's control at Elizabethton, noting he walked five batters in 27 innings. 

Overall, Taylor saw 18 relief outings at Kenosha. He went 1-2, with one save and a 3.00 ERA to end his career.

Steve Taylor 1990 Elizabethton Twins card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,399
Made the Majors:1,416-32.2
Never Made Majors:2,983-67.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:577
10+ Seasons in the Minors:354

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Tony Spaan played 24 pro games: Baseball Profiles

Tony Spaan 1990 Elizabethton Twins card

The Elizabethton Twins needed to get something going in this June 1990 game and Tony Spaan did so, by reaching on an error, The Johnson City Press wrote.

A single, sacrifice and second single later and Spaan had crossed the plate, one of two runners to score on the play in the eventual 3-1 Elizabethton victory, The Press wrote.

Spaan reached in that inning early in his first season as a pro. His career, however, proved brief. That season marked his only season as a pro.

Spaan's career began and ended that year, signed by the Twins out of Orange Coast College. The Twins had taken Spaan in the 54th round of the previous year's draft out of Saddleback College.

At Saddleback, Spaan picked up two hits, one a home run, in a February 1989 game, then another home run in a game that March.

Spaan transferred to Orange Coast College for 1990. He hit a two-run home run and a triple in a March game.

With the Twins, Spaan played 1990 at Elizabethton. He picked up an RBI in a July game. Overall, he saw time in 24 games. He knocked in five runs and ended with a .206 average to mark the extent of his career.

Tony Spaan 1990 Elizabethton Twins card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,398
Made the Majors:1,416-32.2
Never Made Majors:2,982-67.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:577
10+ Seasons in the Minors:354

Ray Smith found home in Elizabethton: Baseball Profiles

Ray Smith 1990 Elizabethton Twins card

The Elizabethton Twins fell behind in this opening game of the 1987 season, but they came back to take the win, The Johnson City Press wrote.

The win marked the first of new manager Ray Smith's coaching career, The Press noted.

"The game is nine innings and you've got to play the whole nine innings," Smith told The Press after his inaugural managerial victory. "Our team showed a lot of character for a young team. They never gave up."

Smith got to see a few Elizabethton teams over the ensuing years, he also got to see his share of wins. By the time his stretch in Elizabethton was done, he'd either helmed or coached Elizabethton over 33 years, a third of a century, with 1,048 total victories.

Smith's long career in baseball, and at Elizabethton, started in 1977, as a player, signed by the Twins out of the University of Oregon.

Smith played his first season between single-A Visalia - and rookie Elizabethton. He saw 63 games at Elizabethton and hit .303. Smith made AA Orlando for 1978, then AAA Toledo in 1979. In April 1981, he made Minnesota.

Smith saw 15 games for the Twins that first year. He then returned for nine in 1982 and 59 in 1983. He hit .224 that year in 1983. 

He played 1984 back ta Toledo, then 1985 with the Padres at AAA Las Vegas. He last played in 1986 with the Athletics at AAA Tacoma.

He then returned to the Twins and Elizabethton for 1987. He managed that year and continued managing Elizabethton through 1994. He then spent several years as a coach, before returning to the manager's office.

In June 2016, Smith started another campaign for Elizabethton and he spoke The Press about the players he sees ahead of time on paper and those he sees in person.

“Sometimes it's not exactly right when we see the players on the field compared to how they've been written up in the scouting report," Smith told The Press, "but I do know the scouts have had a tradition of getting quality players for us, and I don’t see why there’s going to be a difference this year."

Smith stayed on as manager through the end of the franchise in 2020, with the minor league realignment. The Minneapolis Star Tribune noted then noted Smith's impact as the Twins' major league roster then had six of the nine regulars in the batting order and six members of the pitching staff had all played for Smith.

"It's very rewarding to see that. I always tried to have a positive attitude because guys are young and trying to figure things out," Smith told The Star Tribune. "Whatever skills they were blessed with, I tried to teach them how to keep improving, offensively, defensively, running the bases. And being good men in the community, because there's more to it than baseball.

Ray Smith 1990 Elizabethton Twins card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,397
Made the Majors:1,416-32.2
Never Made Majors:2,981-67.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:577
10+ Seasons in the Minors:354

Friday, July 12, 2024

Rich Becker produced in 8 ML seasons: Baseball Profiles

Rich Becker 1990 Elizabethton Twins card

Rich Becker arrived with the Brewers for 1999 as team's fourth outfielder and he hoped to do his job, get his teammates rest, he told The Kenosha News that March.

"I just want to play hard when I get the opportunity," Becker told The News then. "When you're coming off the bench, you have to be ready at any time to go in there and produce."

Becker ultimately worked to stay ready in the majors over eight seasons, seeing more than 100 games in a season in five of those campaigns.

Becker's career began in 1990, taken by the Twins in the third round of the draft out of West Aurora High School in Illinois.

Becker started with the Twins at rookie Elizabethton. He made single-A Kenosha for 1991 and high-A Visalia for 1992. For 1993, he made AA Nashville. He hit .287 in 138 games at Nashville - and earned a September call up to Minnesota.

He saw three games that first year and 28 with the Twins in 1994. That March in 1994, he'd played well enough to get tagged the Twins' "center fielder of the future."

Becker first saw regular playing time in 1995, 106 games played for the Twins. He hit .237. A spot opened up for him that year when Twins outfielder Alex Cole broke his leg on a play, The Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote.

"You want to come up under better circumstances than somebody getting injured," Becker told The Star Tribune then. "But that's the way it is, and if that is the opportunity you have, you have to take advantage of it."

Becker returned for 148 games in 1996, where he hit .291, with 12 home runs. Becker had earlier been a switch hitter but, for 1996, he concentrated on hitting left-handed.

Becker looked to new teammate and future Hall of Famer Paul Molitor as someone he needed to emulate, The Star Tribune wrote.

"I'm not saying I'm anything like Paul Molitor," Becker told The Star Tribune. "But he's so short to the ball, and that's a good example of what I need to try to do."

Becker then saw 132 games in 1997, hitting .264. He moved to the Mets and Orioles for 1998, then the Brewers and Athletics for 1999 and the Athletics and Tigers for 2000. 

His 2000 season marked his last in the majors. He ended with 789 total games played, 45 home runs and a career .256 average.

Rich Becker 1990 Elizabethton Twins card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,396
Made the Majors:1,416-32.2-X
Never Made Majors:2,980-67.8%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:577-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:354

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Dave Bigham loved throwing every day: Baseball Profiles

Dave Bigham 1990 Elizabethton Twins card

Elizabethton Twins hurler Dave Bigham returned for his second stint with the team in 1990 and had quick success, The Johnson City Press wrote.

He appeared in eight of the team's first 12 games, including a 3.1-inning shutout effort in early July," The Press wrote.

"I love it," Bigham told The Press. "It has helped me a lot. I feel like I can go out and throw every day."

Bigham ultimately went out  and threw over eight pro seasons. He ended up topping out high-A.

Bigham's career began in 1989, taken by the Twins in the 39th round of the draft out of Mankato West High School in Minnesota.

Bigham started with the Twins at rookie Elizabethton. He saw nine games, two starts that first year. That August, The Johnson City Press noted his other skills, in hockey. He was still set to play college hockey at Minnesota and even likely would have been drafted by the NHL, had  he not signed with the Twins.

"I really haven't decided," Bigham told The Press of deciding on whether to continue baseball or hockey. "But (playing in Elizabethton) has been a great experience."

Bigham continued on in baseball. He returned for 29 relief appearances in 1990. He then played 1991 at single-A Kenosha and 1992 at high-A Visalia. He saw 53 relief outings at Visalia and went 4-2, with a 3.68 ERA. He also saved five.

Bigham played 1993 and 1994 at high-A Fort Myers, then moved to the White Sox at single-A South Bend for 1995. He last played in 1996, with the Orioles at high-A Frederick. He saw 29 outings, nine starts at Frederick to end his career.

Bigham soon returned home to Minnesota and became a realtor and was ultimately recognized in the top 1 percent nationally, The Mankato Free Press wrote. He passed away in February 2012 from a heart attack. He was 41.

Dave Bigham 1990 Elizabethton Twins card


1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,395
Made the Majors:1,415-32.2
Never Made Majors:2,980-67.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:576
10+ Seasons in the Minors:354