Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Randy Winn (96) signs with New York (AL)

Former Cougar Randy Winn signed a one year deal to play for the New York Yankees next year. This is after he played the last four and a half years in San Francisco. Last years he hit .262 in 149 games. He had his lowest hits total in a season since 2001 with Tampa Bay. He is going to be 36 years old and in his 13th major league season.

Winn started his major league career in Tampa in 1998 and played there for five seasons. In 2005 he played for both Seattle and San Francisco. Winn was an all star with the Rays in 2002.

Cougar fans will remember him for his 1996 and season with the team. In 96 he played in 130 games, hitting .270 with 139 hits. He would steal 30 bases. He would play one more seaosn in the Marlins system before going over to Tampa and playing parts of three seasons in Durham.

Randy was orignally a 3rd round pick of the Marlins in the 1995 draft. He would move to the Rays in the expansion draft. He was traded by the Rays to the Mariners in 2002 for Antonio Perez. Then in 2005 he was traded by the Mariners to the Giants for Jesse Foppers and Yorvit Torrealba.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tommy Everidge and Jason Stokes

Tommy Everidge was designated for assignment by the Oakland A's this week to make some room on the roster. Everidge made his major league debut this July, after spending five years in the Oakland system. He was originally selected by Oakland in the 10th round of the 2004 draft out of Sonoma State Univeristy.

He was always able to hit in the minors, in his first year in pro ball he played in Vancouver and hit .275. In 2008 he played for Midland and hit .279 with 22 homers and 115 runs batted in.

His year in Kane County was 2005 when he hit .279 with 14 homers and 66 runs batted in.
He would hit for the cycle on June 25th at Clinton. In that game he had 3 runs batted in and 2 runs. Tommy also would make two errors in the game.

In 2009 he would play in 24 games for the A's and hit .224 in 85 at bats. Tommy hits six doubles and two homers. In the minors last year he played for both Midland and Sacramento. He hit a combined .335 in 107 games with 144 hits and 33 doubles. He also hit 20 homers and drove in 94 runs. He walked 51 times and struck out 68.

That is compared to his 2008 season in which he walked 55 times and struck out a career high 133 times for Midland.

Jason Stokes has been injured for the majority of his career. He signed with the Detroit Tigers. He was a second round pick of the Florida Marlins in 2000. Jason broke the record in Texas for home runs in a season with 23 for a high schooler/

In 2002 he played for the Cougars, setting a then all time home run record. Most of the year he battled a sore left wrist, eventually being placed on the disabled list for the rest of the season on August 21st. In that year he hit .341 in 97 games with 27 homers and 75 runs batted in.

The next year he played for Jupiter of the Florida State League and in 121 games he hit .258 with 17 homers. 2004 He was in Carolina of the Southern League and hit .272 in 106 games with 23 homers.

After that injuries really took their took on him, as his back and legs took a beating. He would leave the Marlins system after the 06 season in Albuquerque and go to Oakland. There he played in 18 games with Sacramento before being shut down.

Jason did not play in 2008 or 2009. In his career he has 459 games and a .275 average with 92 homers.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Scott Podsednik (97) signs with Kansas City

Scott Podsednik a Cougar from 1997 signed a one year deal with the Kansas City Royals. In the deal the Royals would have a club option for 2011. The deal in worth 1.75 millin with incentives that could increase the deal to about 2 millon. The option for 2011 is for 2 millon, with incentives that could earn him an additional 300,000.

Podsednik can void the option if he reaches 525 plate appearances in 2010.

Scott played for the Cougars in 1997, he hit .277 in 135 games with 147 hits and 23 doubles. He had 28 stolen bases that year. He was originally drafted by Texas in the 3rd round of the 1994 draft. Scott played for the Gulf Coast League Rangers and the Hudson Valley Renegades in the Texas system before being traded to Florida. He was traded on October 8th, 1995 completing the deal in which the Marlins sent Bobby Witt to Texas for two players to be named later. One of those players was Wilson Heredia and the other Podsednik.
He started out with the Marlins system in Brevard County in 1996 and Kane County in 1997.

In December of 1997 he was picked up by the Rangers in the rule five draft. With the Rangers he played in Charlotte, Tulsa and the Gulf Coast league thru the 2000 season.
After the 2000 season he became a minor league free agent and signed with the Seattle Mariners

2001, Scott would see the majors for the first time as he played five games up with the big club. He spent 14 games with them the next year. 2001 in Tacoma he hit .290 in 66 games. In 2002 he was with Tacoma again and hit .279.

Somehow the Mariners lost him on waivers to the Milwaukee Brewers on October 11th, 2002. In Milwaukee he would shine. In 2003, he hit .313 in 154 games with the Brewers with 43 stolesn bases. In 2004 he only hit .244 in 154 games but stole 70 bases. He did strike out 105 times.

The Chicago White Sox got Podsednik in a trade on December 13th, 2004, in the trade he came to the south side for Luis Vizaino and Travis Hinton. The Sox gave up Carlos Lee. The 2005 season would be a magical one on the south side. He hit .290 in 129 games with 59 stolesn bases. He batted leadoff most of the year and if it wasn't for injuries to his legs would've been better for the Sox. In the playoffs and world series he hit .286 in 12 games with six stolen bases, in route to helping the Sox win the world series.

Over the next couple of years he kept on hurting himself. He was out with pulled groins, pulled rib cage muscles, and other injuries. The White Sox designated him for assignment and waived him in November of 2007.

The 2008 season Scott would spend in Colorado Springs, where he rehabbed from injuries for four games, and the played 93 games for the Rockies, hitting .253.

2009, would be another awakening for Podsednik as he would return to his old form. He started out the year in Colorado Springs, before being released. He would be picked up by the White Sox and assigned to Charlotte. In 10 games he would hit .262, and show enough to be brought up to the big club once again. He would get into 132 games for the Sox and hit .304 with 163 hits and 30 stolen bases as a leadoff hitter.

A numbers and age game played against Scott in the offseason of 2009-2010. He would sign with the Kansas City Royals.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Francis Gomez (03) killed in the Dominican Republic

Francis Gomez who played for the Cougars back in 2003, the first year as a Oakland affiliate, was shot to death in the Dominican Republic over the weekend. He played second base when he was in Kane County.

In that season he hit .265 in 128 games with 128 hits, 18 doubles three triples and five homers. He drove in 53 runs. Francis also had 21 stolen bases. Before coming to Kane County he started out in baseball as a 18 years old playing for the Athletics Dominican League team. In 2000 he came to America and played for the Arizona Athletcis. In that year he hit .355 in 17 games.

After that he played in Visalia, California. He hit 234 in 120 games. The next year he went down to short season Vancouver and also played in the Arizona League. After playing in Kane County he spent the 2004 season in both Midland and Sacramento in the A's system.

In 2003 he was the Cougars second baseman in the playoff series against the Clinton Lumberkings. In the three games he hit .364 with four hits in eleven at bats.

Francis was born on September 2nd, 1981 in La Romana, Dominican Republic. He was killed in his hometown of La Romana. originally a non drafted free agent signed by Oakland on December 5th, 1998.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cougars announce coaching staff for 2010

The Kane County Cougars and their major league affiliate the Oakland Athletics announced their 2010 coaching staff for the Midwest League season. Aaron Nieckula will be manager, Haas Pratt will be the hitting coach, and Jimmy Escalante will be the pitching coach. The Cougars made the playoffs last year, with a 76-64 record, before being bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Burlington Bees.

Aaron Nieckula will be on his second go around as manager of the Kane County Cougars. He managed the Cougars from 2006-2008, compling a 214-202 record. Making it to the Midwest League championship series in 2006, before losing to the West Michigan Whitecaps. Nieckula is from nearby, Stickney, Illinois, and a University of Illinois graduate. Before becoming the manager of the Cougars he played in the Oakland orginization for five years. He made it as high as AAA-Fresno for 11 games in 2002. Nieckula was drafted by the A's in the 22nd round of the 1998 draft. In those five seasons he hit .257 in 319 games as a catcher, hitting 12 homers and driving in 130 runners. In 2002 he played for the San Francisco Giants orginization after being picked in the rule 5 draft.

After playing "Nuke" went into coaching starting in 2004, as the hitting coach for the Cougars. He would stay in that position thru 2005. Last year he managed the Stockton Ports in the California league. Nuke leads the Cougars all time in ejections with 10.

Haas Pratt will begin his third year as the Cougars hitting coach in 2010. He was originally selected by Oakland in the 30th round of the 2004 draft, after playing for the University of Miami and the University of Arkansas. The Colorado native, played for Kane County in 2007 hitting .223 in 64 games with 10 homers and 28 runs batted in.He also pitched in relief four times that year, and in 5.2 innings he gave up five hits and one run. He walked two and did not strike out anyone. Haas began his coaching career with the Cougars in 2008. He did hit a homerun off of Los Angles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, who was playing for the Great Lakes Loons, in August of 2007.

Jimmy Escalante is in his second year as the Cougars pitching coach. He was there last year, after having the same position in Vancouver for two years in the Oakland system. Escalante was a 36th round pick of the Orioles in the 96 draft. Back then he was an infielder. In 1999 he was selected in the rule 5 draft by Anaheim. Escalante pitched against the Cougars in 2000 when he was a member of the Cedar Rapids Kernels. That year for the Kernels he went 0-1, with a 2.43 era in 25 games, including 7 saves. He would move up two levels that year, ending the year in the Eastern League with Erie. The next time he was on a pro mound was in 2002 in Sonoma County of the Indpendent Western League. In 2005 he tried again to pitch, this time for Fargo-Moorehead of the Northern League.

The Cougars begin the 2010 season in Appleton, Wisconsin against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on April 8th. They make their home debut on April 11th against the Burlington Bees.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Another Decade of Cougar baseball (2000)

Well, another decade of Kane County Cougars baseball has come and gone, yes I know they have only been around for 19 years, but it's been an interesting 19 years. They have won one title, granted it was in a shortend playoffs in 2001. They have seen 108 former players make it to the majors in that time.

In the last decade the Cougars have been affiliated with the Florida Marlins for three years and the Oakland Athletics for seven years. It has been a roller coaster of a ride, but the good part is at least in the first half of most of those seasons the coaster has been going upward. Six times this past decade the Cougars made the playoffs in the first half of the season. Five of those times have been with Oakland.

The decade saw 56 former Cougars make it to the majors, from B.J. Waszgis in July of 2000, to Henry Rodriguez in September of this past season. Some former Cougars have won World Series titles (Josh Beckett, A.J. Burnett, to name a few). Beckett has also been named World Series MVP. There have been many all stars and award winners.

This decade began with a playoff run in the 2000 season. That season the Cougars were affiliated with the Marlins, they would make the playoffs in the second half by winning the divison. Problem was that they would be bounced in the first round of the playoffs by Wisconsin after winning the first game at home in 10 innings.

That season saw players like Chip Ambres, Matt Frick, Kevin Hooper, Matt Padgett, Luis Ugueto, Kelley Washington and Josh Wilson. Scott Goodman led the team in homeruns with 16. Padgett and David Calalhan tied for the lead in RBI's with 60.

The pitching was good. Todd Moser, Marc Sauer, Gustavo Lopez, Jorge Cordova and Joe Sergent. The Cougars also had pitching phenom Josh Beckett. He would pitch 13 games and show a few signs of what was to come. The problem was the he would spend a lot of the season on the disabled list for the first time in his career. He only went 2-3 with a 2.12 era in 13 games for the Cougars. The bullpen was good, Brandon Bowe went 7-3 with a 3.73 in 61 games with 6 saves. He pitched 80 innings, and struck out 89 while giving up 73 hits. Bryan Moore was the Cougar closer, he went 5-2 with a 3.10 era in 58 games, he would set a Cougar record with 27 saves.

On June 10th in West Michigan the Cougars were no-hit by the Whitecaps. They would lose 8-0, Beckett started the game and went 2.2 innings, giving up three runs and would get the loss. The Caps sent out Tommy Marx who had a complete game, he walked six and struck out ten for the win.

On July 13th the Cougars played the Michigan Battle Cats at home, the game would go 13 innings and four and a half hours. The Cats would win 7-6, but the Cougars had plenty of chances. They would load the bases in both the ninth and the tenth inning and would not score. There were 34 hits in the game and 27 men left on base.

In the first game of the playoffs, at home against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the Cougars would win depite the umps. They left 13 men on base, the Cougar starter Gustavo Lopez was only able to go into the fourth inning because of a pulled muscle in his side.

Wisconsin almost won the game in the top of the tenth when with one out Justin Leone was "hit by a pitch", the ball actually hit the bat. Chris Snelling then hit into a fielder's choice, which should've been a double play to get the Cougars out of the inning. The ump blew the call, because the throw clearly beat the runner, but that's baseball. Ryan Christainson then walked. Orlando Hernandez then hit into a fielder's choice to get out of the inning.

In the bottom of the inning the Cougars sent Matt Frick up there first and he put one just inside the line in right, the ball went somewhere down the line, foul and just kept rolling, Frick made second. Scott Goodman was then intentionally walked. Ferrnad then came up and hit one over the heads of the outfielders in right centerfield, Frick would come around and score the winning run.

Game two was a complete disastor as the Cougars would lose 10-1 in Appleton. Nothing went right, as this time they just couldn't get any baserunners to leave any on. Hector Henriquez had a miserable game, going 1.1 innings in relief, giving up six hits and six runs. Even though only one of those runs would be eanred.

In game three they would face Rattler pitcher J.J. Putz who threw a no hitter against the Cougars on April 29th in Appleton in the first game of a double header. In that game the Cougars did get one run, while Putz walked five and struck out four in the win.

This time the Cougars would get three runs and five hits off of Putz in six innings. The problem was that the Rattlers got five runs and seven hits off of Marc Neubauer in four and two thirds innings.

This is the first in a series about this past decade for the Cougars, please read later on in the offseason as I review the other seasons in this roller coaster of a decade.