Welcome back to our bi-weekly tour around the Eastern League this off season…
• The Altoona Curve have dug into their past to name Derek Martin (pictured above) as their new general manager. Martin was with the franchise in ticketing from 2002 through 2007 and even met his future wife when she “won” him in a charity bachelor promotion at then Blair County Ballpark. The 37-year-old worked in finance for nearly four years and most recently has been a commercial insurance agent in Altoona. “I didn’t think I had much chance at all,” Martin told The Altoona Mirror’s Cory Giger about getting the GM job. “But I know my passion for the Curve and for baseball itself. I went in not thinking there was much of a chance, but the stars lined up, and it’s a dream come true.”
• The Bowie Baysox are the latest team that will have a new home next year, well at least a new name. The club is seeking a stadium naming rights partner for Prince George’s Stadium as they begin their 24th season at the facility.
— Eastern League (@EasternLeague) October 15, 2016
Fan voting for the 2016 MiLBYs is underway where you can choose the best teams, players, videos, promos and more from across Minor League Baseball.
The Senators are nominated for the Promo of the Year with their Life-Size Bobblehead Hall of Fame where the team began a new tradition by recognizing the truly great players from their storied history. The first three inductees this season were Vladimir Guerrero, Cliff Floyd, and Bryce Harper.
Pitcher Reynaldo Lopez, who began the season in Harrisburg, was nominated for Breakout Prospect. Lopez had 14 starts with the Senators in 2016 and went 3-5 with a 3.18 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 76.1 innings pitched. The 22-year-old also made five starts at Triple-A Syracuse and 11 appearances with the Nationals while working his way to No. 38 in MLB.com’s overall ranking on the strength of an impressive fastball-curveball mix.
Former Senator Destin Hood is also up for a Top Home Run MiLBY for a bomb he hit as a member of the New Orleans Zephyrs. Hood’s mammoth blast in Memphis’ AutoZone Park caromed off a Ford pickup well beyond the left-field wall that players could win if they hit the bullseye next to the truck.
Voting continues until October 25th and you are allowed to vote as often as you’d like, so stuff the ballot box for the Senators!
The reach of the Senators in the 2016 postseason is pretty remarkable as six of the remaining eight teams have players that suited up for Harrisburg. Here’s a list of all players and staff that have ties to the Senators:
Toronto Blue Jays
Marco Estrada (2008)
Tim Leiper (HC 1998) – 1st base coach
Tim Raines (HC 2007) – outfield/baserunning coordinator
Jeff Banister (1988-90) – manager
Tony Beasley (MGR 2011) – coach
Ian Desmond (2006, 2008-09)
Ivan Rodriguez (rehab 2011) – special assistant to GM
Michael Martinez (2009-10)
Boston Red Sox
Sandy Leon (2012-13)
San Francisco Giants
Denard Span (rehab 2015)
Los Angeles Dodgers
Pat Corrales (managed a couple of games while Matt LeCroy was gone on paternity leave) – special assistant to GM
Michael Barrett (1998-99) – catching coordinator
Matt Belisle (rehab 2016)
A.J. Cole (2013-14)
Wilmer Difo (2015-16)
Danny Espinosa (2010)
Troy Gingrich (2001-03, HC 2008-11) – hitting coordinator
Lucas Giolito (2015-16)
Koda Glover (2016)
Brian Goodwin (2012-13, 2015)
Matt Grace (2013-14)
Mark Grater (PC 2004) – rehab pitching coordinator
Bryce Harper (2011, rehab 2013-14)
Bobby Henley (1996-97) – 3rd base coach
Spencer Kieboom (2016)
Randy Knorr (MGR 2010) – special advisor to GM and player development
Reynaldo Lopez (2016)
Rafael Martin (2010-12, 2014)
Paul Menhart (PC 2012-13) – pitching coordinator
Oliver Perez (2011)
Wilson Ramos (rehab 2013-14)
Anthony Rendon (2012-13, rehab 2015)
Tanner Roark (2010-11, rehab 2015)
Joe Ross (2015)
Pedro Severino (2015)
Tommy Shields (1988-89) – minor league field coordinator
Sammy Solis (2014-15)
Stephen Strasburg (2010, rehab 2011 & 2015)
Michael Taylor (2014)
Blake Treinen (2013)
Trea Turner (2015)
Spin Williams (PC 1987-88, 1990) – senior advisor of player development
Ryan Zimmerman (2005, rehab 2015)
• The naming rights to Jerry Uht Park have been sold to UPMC, the hospital system based in Pittsburgh. Under the five-year deal the home of the Erie SeaWolves will now be known as UPMC Park.
• The folks at SmartAsset.com have released their third annual ranking of America’s Best Minor League Baseball Towns and Portland was the only Eastern League city ranked in the top ten as Round Rock, TX took home top honors.
• The Eastern League announced their nominees for the Minor League baseball awards given out annually at the Winter Meetings.
John H. Johnson President’s Award: Akron RubberDucks
Larry MacPhail Award (creative marketing and promotional efforts): Reading Fightin Phils
John Henry Moss Community Service Award: Richmond Flying Squirrels
Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award (outstanding support of and engagement with the United States Armed Forces and veterans): Bowie Baysox
Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year Award: Kris Haver, Reading Fightin Phils
• Additionally, Jim Pfander of the Akron RubberDucks was named the league’s 2016 Executive of the Year.
The Washington Nationals announced their minor league offensive player and pitcher of the year along with their Bob Boone Award recipient for 2016 and all three played in Harrisburg in 2016.
Jose Marmolejos was named the organization’s top offensive player as he split time between Potomac and Harrisburg over 136 games. The 23-year-old first baseman cracked 45 doubles and led the Nationals minor league players with 87 runs scored and 240 total bases. In 33 games with the Senators, Marmolejos adjusted nicely to Double-A as he hit .299 and drove in 15 runs.
Reynaldo Lopez was awarded the pitcher of the year accolades as the 22-year-old fireballer struck out 126 batters while walking only 35 batters in 109.1 minor league innings over 19 starts. Lopez held opponents to a .220 batting average between his stints in Harrisburg and Syracuse. The Dominican Republic native is also 5-3 with a 4.57 ERA in 10 appearances with the Nationals this year.
Rafael Bautista was named the recipient of this year’s Bob Boone Award given to the player that best “demonstrates the professionalism, leadership, loyalty, passion, selflessness, durability, determination and work ethic required to play the game the Washington Nationals Way.” The speedy outfielder led the Eastern League with 153 hits and 56 stolen bases on his way to setting the Senators’ single-season record for stolen bases.
The Nationals will honor the three players prior to Saturday’s game against the Miami Marlins.
This content was originally found in Issue No. 22 of this year’s Senators Program
April 19: Second baseman Trace Coquillette went 5-for-6 with a double in a 17-0 win at Trenton. The Senators scored ten runs in the sixth inning. First baseman Fernando Seguignol singled and hit a three-run homer and Chris Stowers singled twice in the frame.
April 20: Seguignol and Stowers were at it again the next night as the former hit a home run in his third consecutive game while the latter’s RBI single capped a three-run, ninth-inning rally to beat Reading 11-10.
April 25: Coquillette cracked a seventh-inning grand slam and Jose Fernandez went 3-for-5 with two dingers of his own as the Senators beat Trenton 7-5.
April 27: Catcher Michael Barrett went 3-for-4, including a third-inning grand slam, and outfielder Scott Samuels went 3-for-3 with a homer and three RBI in a 10-3 win against New Haven April 27. The game capped a stretch in which Barrett went 12-for-21.
May 4: J.D. Smart threw six scoreless innings in a 5-0 win against Akron and he had not allowed a run in his first five games (1-0, 1 SV, 20 IP, 11 H, 2 BB, 15 SO)
May 8: Trace Coquillette hit a pair of home runs and Hiram Bocachica and Fernando Seguignol also went deep in a 6-3 win at Portland. Seguignol had homered twice the night before.
May 18: Three days after his extra inning, game-winning single, Coquillette was the goat committing a pair of errors in the seventh inning, his first two of the season, that led to four unearned runs and an 8-3 loss against New Britain. The Senators as a team were responsible for six miscues in the game.
May 19: Jeremy Powell threw a three-hit, 7-1 complete game win against New Britain. It was the first nine-inning complete game of his career and fourth overall.
May 18-20: Seguignol homered in three straight games against New Britain. He had gone deep in four of five games in the midst of getting a hit in 14 of his last 15 games. By the end of the month Seguignol, who was acquired from the Yankees a few years back in the John Wetteland deal, was leading the league in home runs (15), RBI (44), slugging (.649) and extra-base hits (26).
June 15: Keith Evans allowed a run on three hits over six innings while Fernando Seguignol doubled twice, homered and drove in four runs in a 12-1 win against Trenton.
June 26: Jeremy Powell allowed fourth and sixth-inning singles over six innings to snap his three-game losing streak and help end a terrible slide for the Senators that saw them lose ten straight games and 21 of 26 at one point, batting just .180 with runners in scoring position over that span. In the nightcap of the doubleheader, Scott Mitchell tossed a three-hit, 5-0 shutout over Akron. First baseman Andy Tracy was promoted from Jupiter and homered in his first at-bat. In six games, Tracy went 4-for-15 with two dingers.
July 3: Shortstop Jamey Carroll’s two-run single capped a three-run bottom of the ninth inning that gave the Senators a 9-8 win over Reading. Jose Fernandez and Michael Barrett clubbed back-to-back homers in the fifth inning.
July 12: Fernandez’s tenth-inning RBI double beat Akron 5-4 on July 12. The hit capped an eight-game stretch in which Fernandez hit .385 (10-26) with three doubles and three homers.
July 14: Chris Stowers’ RBI double in the sixth inning provided the only run of the game in a 1-0 blanking over Trenton. Keith Evans hurled seven scoreless innings (5 H, 2 BB, 3 SO) for the win.
July 24: Fernando Seguignol homered twice (2-4, 3 RBI) on in a 7-6 win against Akron. He belted another dinger the next night against the Aeros, then went deep again July 28 & 29 against Norwich to boost his league-leading totals to 24 homers and a .604 slugging percentage.
August 3: Peter Bergeron and Jon Tucker came over from San Antonio after the Dodgers packaged the duo as part of the trade package for Carlos Perez and Mark Grudzielanek. Bergeron went 4-for-12 and Tucker 2-for-10 in their first three games.
August 6-8: Infielder Geoff Blum hit home runs in three consecutive games against New Haven and Reading (6-9, 5 RBI).
August 13: The Senators had just two hits in the first five innings before putting together 11 runs and seven hits in the sixth inning to defeat Trenton 11-6 on August 13. Chris Stowers had two singles in the inning while Jhonny Caravajal and Tucker had three-run doubles.
August 17: Blum clubbed a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning off one of the minors’ top firemen, Brent Stentz, to beat New Britain 6-4 in the second game of a twinbill. Barrett scored ahead of Blum’s blast to cross the plate in his 12th consecutive game.
August 26: Michael Barrett hit a pair of home runs, a double and a single, scored three runs and drove in a pair in a 6-3 win at Bowie. The Senators scored three unearned runs in the top of the ninth inning to pull out the victory. Barrett, who took over the league lead in batting (.326), has batted .413 (38-92) in August while playing mostly at the hot corner. As a third baseman this season, the 21-year-old is batting .384 in 99 at-bats. He had a 17-game hitting streak snapped August 25 against Bowie.
September 6: Chris Stowers started two rallies in the afternoon with a double and a homer that helped Harrisburg beat the Portland Sea Dogs 7-1. Hours later as Trenton lost 14-4, the Senators clinched the final playoff spot in the Eastern League’s Southern Division.
September 9: Using early home runs by Stowers and Andy Tracy, as well as five workmanlike innings from starter Scott Forster, the Senators built a quick lead 9-0 lead and held off a couple of late Akron rallies to take Game 1 of the semifinals, 9-5.
September 11: Four more hits by Stowers helped the Senators rally past the Aeros 7-4 to take a 2-1 series lead. “I can’t explain it,” Stowers said of batting .339 against Akron during the regular season and .259 against the rest of the league. “Of course, I did go 3-for-50 against Bowie.”
September 12: A timely three-run homer in the second inning by Carlos Adolfo and solid pitching from Jeremy Powell and Tommy Phelps propelled the Senators to a 6-3 win eliminating the vaunted Aeros (including Major League All-Star Jim Thome on a rehab assigment) in four games of the Eastern League’s best-of-five Southern Division finals.
September 15: Chris Schwab had only been a Senator since the final weekend of the Eastern League’s regular season. But the newcomer came through in the clutch as his RBI double fueled a three-run sixth inning that sparked a 5-2 victory over New Britain in Game 2 of the EL finals at RiverSide Stadium.
September 16: The Senators jumped out to a two-run first inning and starter Scott Mitchell and reliever Phelps moved Harrisburg to within one game of the championship with a 3-2 win.
September 17: Nine innings wasn’t enough, but Carlos Adolfo and Guillermo Mota made sure ten frames was. Adolfo’s two-run double lifted the Senators over New Britain 6-4 in Game 4 of the Eastern League finals and Mota nailed down the win recording the final three outs.
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
- The Senators became only the second team in the Eastern League’s 76 seasons to win three straight playoff titles.
- Jose Fernandez and Michael Barrett were among the 12 players selected to the season-ending Eastern League all-star team.
- Outfielder Chris Stowers reached 100 consecutive games without an error before his streak ended on August 29.
- Guillermo Mota named the playoff MVP after allowing only three hits in seven scoreless innings.
“It’s the end of the road. Everything we’ve worked for is finished. This puts a dot on the i…When you work hard like this, this is what’s supposed to happen.” – – manager Rick Sweet on winning championship
“We hit a road series in Binghamton and it seemed that things went down hill after that. We were playing so well and then I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We lost our focus. We were a young team and teams made a lot of adjustments. The all-star break is a time for moves and some guys may have been thinking about that.” – – Michael Barrett on 5-23 June record
“You always think that burn of champagne in the eye hurts, but it’s nothing. Good guys always finish on top, right?” – – shortstop Geoff Blum
“I think the biggest boost we had was when we got (Jon) Tucker and (Peter) Bergeron. We knew that they were good players and we also knew that they were going to come in and help us win. It seemed like we had a different attitude. We were a team. Then (Geoff) Blum and Andy Tracy gave us an air of confidence. We knew that this was going to be the team and we were all going to stay there. It was great for chemistry.” – – Barrett on the late season roster
“When you taste this once, you want to taste it again and again. People who have never won never know this feeling.” – – manager Rick Sweet on winning championship
“They turned the trophy over to me [during the clubhouse celebration]. I took it to the bus, wiped it off and put it on the dashboard for the whole way back.” – – bus driver Art Mattingly
Kevin Keyes’ grand slam puts exclamation mark on eight-run inning (April 15)
Chris Bostick hits walk-off homer to top Yard Goats (May 3)
Cutter Dykstra delivers a bases loaded, pinch-hit triple to empty the bases (May 9)
Nick Rickles’ blast sends the Senators into All-Star break winners (July 10)
Jose Marmolejos completes magical comeback on the final day of the season (September 5)
- Congratulations to the Akron Rubber Ducks who claimed their second Eastern League championship in the last five years with a three-game sweep of the Trenton Thunder.
- After eight seasons as the Altoona Curve’s General Manager, Rob Egan is leaving for the same position with the Charlotte Knights, Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
- Dusty Wathan will take the reins at Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2017 ending his five-year run in Reading that saw the 43-year-old become the winningest manager in team history.
- More good news for the RubberDucks as the Cleveland Indians renewed their Player Development Contract with Akron through the 2020 season. That means every Eastern League team will remain with the same affiliation for at least the next two years.
- The Hartford stadium saga continues as a report revealed several issues with Dunkin’ Donuts Park, including structural problems, water damage, and errors in certain installations. The Yard Goats are scheduled to play their first home game in 2017 on Thursday, April 13.
On the last day of the 2016 season, a trio of Senators decided to challenge “Harrisburg’s first… and best all-male dance team” to a dance-off. Greg Ross, Tyler Mapes, and Nick Rickles showed everyone their sweet, sweet dance moves.
Harrisburg came up just short of the 2016 postseason, but in the process the Senators gave the fans an exciting last month of the season. Let’s take a look back at some of the best plays of the month. As always the choices were tough, but somebody had to make them. Here are the Top 5:
5. August 5 vs. Trenton: Kieboom’s great baserunning and Stevenson’s big blow
The Senators began a four-run rally with a leadoff walk by Spencer Kieboom. The catcher moved up to third with heads up baserunning on a flare into shallow right from Adrian Sanchez. “That just shows you if you are thinking first-to-third and you’re smart about it you can make it. To me that was the biggest play of the game,” manager Matt LeCroy said. Rafael Bautista followed with a chopper off home plate that he beat out for a single and scored Kieboom for the Senators’ first run. Andrew Stevenson delivered the big blow in the inning with a triple down the right field line to score two. The speedy outfielder scored on a sacrifice fly from Isaac Ballou to give the Senators a four-run lead they would never relinquish.
4. August 24 vs. Altoona: Keyes delivers walk-off
Down to their last out, the Harrisburg Senators rallied off Altoona closer Montana DuRapau for a stunning 4-3 victory that marked the first time in nearly a month that Harrisburg won back-to-back games. Kevin Keyes delivered the game-winning RBI with a single up the middle that scored Andrew Stevenson from third base. Stevenson had previously singled home Shawn Pleffner in the inning to tie the score and set up the late game heroics.
3. August 10 vs. Altoona: Great first impression for Fedde
Erick Fedde pitched seven solid innings to lead the Harrisburg Senators to a 5-2 win over the Altoona Curve in his Double-A debut. The Nationals’ 2014 first-round pick retired the side in order only one time, but the Curve touched Fedde for a lone two-out run in the seventh inning.
2. September 2 vs. Hartford: 13 innings is just enough for Bautista
Rafael Bautista delivered the bases-loaded single in the 13th inning to give the Harrisburg Senators a stirring 4-3 victory over the Hartford Yard Goats and keep their playoff hopes alive. In the deciding frame, Harrisburg rallied on a couple of walks and a sacrifice bunt fielder’s choice. That set the stage for Bautista who ripped a single up the middle, through the drawn-in infield to score Stephen Perez from third base for the win.
1. September 5 vs. Hartford: Marmolejos provides a little bit of magic left on final day
Despite being eliminated about an hour before, the Harrisburg Senators had one last piece of magic left in them as they scored three runs on six consecutive singles for a 5-4 walk-off win over the Yard Goats on the final day of the regular season. The win marked the 76th victory of the season as the Senators became the first Eastern League team since 2002 to miss the playoffs with that win total. In the ninth inning, the Senators loaded the bases off Hartford closer Jerry Vasto as Nick Rickles, Adrian Sanchez, and Khayyan Norfork each singled. Pinch-hitter Isaac Ballou evened the score at 4-4 with a single to right that scored Rickles and Sanchez. Two more singles, the last one by Jose Marmolejos, proved to be the difference as Ballou coasted home on the first baseman’s line drive.