With time on my hands, I was looking through some old programs and came across this one: Cal Sate Fullerton at Long Beach State in a Big West Conference football slobberknocker from 1990.
I went to Fullerton and Long Beach was our football rival. Sure, USC/ UCLA got all the publicity in Southern California, but each year, this game was a fierce one.
Honestly, neither program had much to hang a hat on. Fullerton had some good years and sent some players to the NFL. For a while, Titans’ running back Mike Pringle (a future Canadian Football League Hall of Fame player) held the single-game, Division 1-A rushing record of 357 yards. Luckily, I was there to see it live in a home game vs. New Mexico State.
However, both schools played in glorified high school stadiums off campus and usually averaged about 3,000 fans per game. They were Division 1 in name only because of basketball (this was during UNLV’s hey day) and Fullerton baseball.
Long Beach State was just not very good, but the 49ers administration made an effort to jump start the program. They hired legendary NFL head coach George Allen for the 1990 season.
Allen came in and promised the 49ers, which were 11-24 the previous 3 years, a winning season.
It didn’t look very good at the start, as Long Beach was blown out at Clemson en route to an 0-3 start. The Beach got back to 3-3, then dropped to 3-5, which put the Niners in a spot where they had to win the last 3 games to finish with a winning record.
Long Beach beat my beloved Titans 37-35, then Cal State Northridge to set a chance to finish above .500. It came down to the final game at home vs. UNLV (Nevada-Las Vegas).
With Fullerton not at home – we only had 3-4 home games a year – I went to that game in mid-November. It was a raw, misty day with a cold wind coming in off the Pacific – perfect football weather. The Beach hadn’t beaten Vegas in a long time, but the 49ers pulled it off 29-20.
The win put Long Beach State at 6-5 to finish the season. The old ball coach had held to his promise to bring a winning record. Elated, the players doused the 72-year-old Allen with the Gatorade bucket filled with, not Gatorade, but ice water. I remember seeing that moment and thinking, wow, that had to be cold on such a miserable day outside.
Allen stayed in the field to do post game interviews before his players carried him off the field on their shoulders.
The sad part: Allen came down with a cold after that game and… He never recovered. Allen, who was put in the pro football Hall of Fame posthumously, died 6 weeks later.
Long Beach State football lasted one more season, then shut down for good.
I don’t know about anyone else but when the final game of a season is played, there is a sense of dread that I might not come back to this place.
For me, from 2005 to 2008, it was whether I would work here again. After the 2009 season and I left full-time employment with the Hickory Crawdads, I worried that I wouldn’t be back without buying a ticket. Then, I was hired by the team as the official scorekeeper, and I would cover the team for the Hickory Daily Record. Then, it would be whether my full-time work schedule would allow my to keep doing the baseball gig. After I unexpected lost my job in 2015, I worried that I would have to move and, thereby, never be able to come back to the ballpark. Yet, new employment allowed me to keep coming to L.P. Frans. By August 1, you start counting down the days to the end. And then the cycle to next spring begins.
Fifteen seasons come and went and it seemed that number 16 would be here before I knew it. I got through high school football, volleyball, soccer, swimming, wrestling basketball – all of which I enjoy – but nothing gets my inner ticker going like being at a baseball field. For me, it’s being at L.P. Frans Stadium.
It’s hard to describe what being around a minor league ballpark is like. As an employee, you start working the phones in January to try and sell billboards and tickets and program ads and anything else you can get a company, church group, etc, interested in. Then March rolls around and things shift to getting the ballpark set up and ready to go by April. Once the season begins, it’s 17-hour days, eight-game homestands that involve public relations, selling tickets, stinky tarp pulls, answering the phones, setting up the videoboard and music, or whatever else needs to be done. The 3-hour ballgame is the easy part. But the people you work with becomes your family for five months. These are people you laugh with, swear at, choke down a quick hot dog or pizza slice with – one of about 17,000 you’ll swallow during the season – go to battle with, cry with because you miss family and sweat with for meager paychecks.
On top of all that, you meet fans around the ballpark that you see for 50-60 nights a year. You see their families and they become a part of yours. You celebrate birthdays and watch their kids grow up. Sadly, you mourn the passing of a few.
When I became a sportswriter/ scorekeeper, my attention shifted to the clubhouse, where I got to know players and coaches and managers and scouts and rovers, etc. You see the growth in the players and rejoice in their promotions. Then, the fortunate few get to “The Show” and you say, I remember them when… Unfortunately, you experience a few low moments when players are demoted, or worse, cut and their dreams end.
The ballpark gets into my soul like nothing else. The smell of the grass, the crack of the bat at BP, the music cranking up as the gates open, the smell of popcorn and hot dogs, the taste of fresh-squeezed lemonade, the increasing swell of chatter in seats, the people stopping at the roster board to fill out scorecards, the players taking the field, the singing of the anthem, the pop of the ball into the mitt, postgame fireworks and so much more in-between.
But, the best part of the ballpark are the relationships you build over the years. Outside of my own family, there is truly nothing like a family at the ballpark.
As I type this, it is supposed to be Opening Night, and I should be keeping track of the Crawdads at West Virginia. Instead, the dread of not coming back to the ballpark is here. No one knows if we’ll get back in May, June, or at any point in 2020. Honestly, it’s about the biggest “sports sad” I’ve had in a while.
We’ll get back at some point – oh, Lord, I hope we do – and when it happens, I’ll soak it in like I’ve not done so in a long time. No worry about rain delays, and people jinxing how fast a game is going, and 14-inning games. I can’t wait for the next pitch.
The 178 former Hickory Crawdads to play in the major leagues have combined to play for all 30 MLB teams, plus a couple with the former Montreal Expos.
The top-three teams are the current and former affiliates (Rangers, Pirates and White Sox) with a couple of teams only seeing as few as five former ‘Dads. See which ones have played for your favorite team.
Here is the list:
CRAWDADS WITH MAJOR LEAGUE TEAMS (Still Active with team):
Baltimore Orioles: (15) Hanser Alberto, Jairo Asencio, Jose Bautista, Richard Bleier, Chad Bradford, Luis Garcia, JR House, Nate McLouth, Luis Ortiz, Ronny Paulino, Steve Pearce, Nerio Rodriguez, Luis Sardinas, Dillon Tate, Walter Young.
Boston Red Sox: (11) Daniel Bard, Chad Bradford, Carlos Castillo, Rajai Davis, Adam LaRoche, Brent Lillibridge, Josias Mansanillo, Roman Mendez, Steven Pearce, Jesus Pena, Robbie Ross
Chicago White Sox: (34) Jim Abbott, Jeff Abbott, Kevin Beirne, Jason Bere, Mike Bertotti, Rocky Biddle, Chad Bradford, DJ Carrasco, Carlos Castillo, McKay Christensen, Chris Clemons, Joe Crede, Nelson Cruz, Pat Daneker, Zach Duke, Tom Fordham, Leury Garcia, Jon Garland, Mark Johnson, Jeff Keppinger, Adam LaRoche, Carlos Lee, Brent Lillibridge, Dave Lundquist, Aaron Myette, Greg Norton, Magglio Ordonez, Josh Paul, Jesus Pena, Liu Rodriguez, Aaron Rowand, Brian Simmons, Chris Tremie, Mario Valdez
Cleveland Indians: (9) Jairo Asencio, Bryan Bullington, Rajai Davis, Tom Gorzelanny, Brent Lillibridge, Nyjer Morgan, Aaron Myette, Neil Ramirez, Nerio Rodriguez
Detroit Tigers: (14) Chad Bell, Nelson Cruz, Rajai Davis, Travis Demeritte, Reed Garrett, Brad Eldred, Jordy Mercer, Dustin Molleken, Greg Norton, Roberto Novoa, Magglio Ordonez, Alex Presley, Brian Schmack, Chris Shelton.
Houston Astros (AL team): (1) Alex Presley
Kansas City Royals: (9) Jose Bautista, Bryan Bullington, DJ Carrasco, Chris Demaria, Justin Grimm, Jeff Keppinger, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Nick Tepesch, Chris Young.
Los Angeles Angels: (5) Jim Abbott, Sean Burnett, Cody Ege, John Garland, Josh Paul.
Minnesota Twins: (10) Joe Beimel, Matt Capps, Joe Crede, Ryan Doumit, Zach Duke, Chris Heintz, Martin Perez, Alex Presley, Neil Ramirez, Nick Tepesch
New York Yankees: (9) Jim Abbott, Jonathan Albaladejo, Richard Bleier, Cody Eppley, Brent Lillibridge, Josias Manzanillo, Steve Pearce, Romulo Sanchez, Neil Walker.
Oakland A’s: (7) Chad Bradford, Rajai Davis, Wilmer Font, Mark Johnson, Frank Menechino, Jurickson Profar, Mario Valdez.
Seattle Mariners: (15) Joe Beimel, Zach Duke, Justin Grimm, James Jones, Josh Lueke, Josias Manzanillo, Dylan Moore, Greg Norton, Connor Sadzeck, Luis Sardinas, Chris Shelton, Ian Snell, Erik Swanson, Joe Wieland, Chris Young
Tampa Bay Rays: (12) Jose Bautista, Joe Beimel, Jeff Bennett, Chad Bradford, Peter Fairbanks, Wilmer Font, Jeff Keppinger, Josh Lueke, Greg Norton, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Josh Paul, Steve Pearce
Texas Rangers: (49) Hanser Alberto, Brock Burke, Alexander Claudio, Cody Eppley, Peter Fairbanks, Andrew Faulkner, Wilmer Font, Joey Gallo, Leury Garcia, Nick Gardewine, Justin Grimm, Ronald Guzman, Mark Hamburger, Jonathan Hernandez, Luke Jackson, Ariel Jurado, Keone Kela, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Phil Klein, Jose Leclerc, Carlos Lee, Brett Martin, Nick Martinez, Nomar Mazara, Roman Mendez, Yohander Mendez, Aaron Myette, Rougned Odor, Joseph Ortiz, Joseph Palumbo, Ronny Paulino, Pedro Payano, CD Pelham, Martin Perez, Jurickson Profar, Drew Robinson, Ricardo Rodriguez, Ben Rowen, Ryan Rua, Connor Sadzeck, Luis Sardinas, Chris Shelton, Jeffrey Springs, Nick Tepesch, Tomas Telis, Chris Tremie, Jose Trevino, Matt West, Chris Young.
Toronto Blue Jays: (15) Jose Bautista, Kevin Beirne, Bryan Bullington, Rajai Davis, Wilmer Font, Matt Hague, Brad Lincoln, Frank Menechino, Steve Pearce, Neil Ramirez, Todd Redmond, Nerio Rodriguez, Brian Simmons, Nick Tepesch, Matt West.
Arizona Diamondbacks: (6) Jonathan Albaladejo, DJ Carrasco, Zach Duke, Jon Garland, Adam LaRoche, Jamie Romak
Atlanta Braves: (12) Jairo Asencio, Jose Bautista, Jeff Bennett, Jake Brigham, Ryan Doumit, Luke Jackson, Adam LaRoche, Brent Lillibridge, Paul Maholm, Nate McLouth, Greg Norton, Todd Redmond.
Chicago Cubs: (12) Jairo Asencio, Jason Bere, CJ Edwards, Tom Gorzelanny, John Grabow, Justin Grimm, Brent Lillibridge, Paul Maholm, Roberto Novoa, Josh Paul, Neil Ramirez, Ben Rowen
Cincinnati Reds: (11) Jason Bere, Abel De Los Santos, Zach Duke, Josh Fogg, Jared Hughes, Jeff Keppinger, Josias Manzanillo, Aaron Myette, Todd Redmond, Pete Rose Jr., Dave Williams.
Colorado Rockies: (5) Joe Beimel, Nelson Cruz, Brad Eldred, Josh Fogg, Greg Norton.
Houston Astros (NL Team): (8) Brian Bixler, Jose Castillo, Nelson Cruz, JR House, Jeff Keppinger, Carlos Lee, Steve Pearce, Chris Tremie.
Los Angeles Dodgers: (12) Joe Beimel, Kevin Beirne, Fabio Castillo, McKay Christensen, Wilmer Font, Jon Garland, Paul Maholm, Jamie Romak, Nick Tepesch, Tony Watson, Matt West, Joe Wieland.
Miami Marlins: (14) Jeff Abbott, Jorge Alfaro, Lewis Brinson, Dave Davidson, Cody Ege, Hansel Izquierdo, Carlos Lee, Josias Manzanillo, Bryan Morris, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Henry Owens, Ronny Paulino, Tomas Telis, Neil Walker
Milwaukee Brewers: (18) Jim Abbott, Jeff Bennett, Jason Bere, Lewis Brinson, Alex Claudio, Chris Demaria, Zach Duke, Tom Gorzelanny, Jared Hughes, Mark Johnson, Carlos Lee, Josias Manzanillo, Nyger Morgan, Alex Presley, Neil Ramirez, Ben Rowen, Luis Sardinas, Neil Walker
Montreal Expos: (2) Rocky Biddle, Bob Henley.
New York Mets: (14) Jose Bautista, Chad Bradford, McKay Christensen, DJ Carrasco, Rajai Davis, Wilmer Font, Jeff Keppinger, Josias Manzanillo, Henry Owens, Ronny Paulino, Neil Ramirez, Neil Walker, Dave Williams, Chris Young.
Philadelphia Phillies: (12) Jorge Alfaro, Jose Bautista, Jerad Eickhoff, Odubel Herrera, Jared Hughes, Phil Klein, Steve Lerud, Brad Lincoln, Andrew McCutchen, Aaron Rowand, Danny Sandoval, Nick Williams
Pittsburgh Pirates: (53) Tony Alvarez, Jose Bautista, Joe Beimel, Brian Bixler, Wilfredo Boscan, Bryan Bullington, Sean Burnett, Matt Capps, DJ Carrasco, Jose Castillo, Humberto Cota, Mike Crotta, Dave Davidson, JJ Davis, Rajai Davis, Yurendell DeCaster, Ryan Doumit, Zach Duke, Brad Eldred, Josh Fogg, Tom Gorzelanny, John Grabow, Matt Hague, JR House, Jared Hughes, Mike Johnston, Keone Kela, Adam LaRoche, Brad Lincoln, Paul Maholm, Josias Manzanillo, Javier Martinez, Andrew McCutchen, Nate McLouth, Jordy Mercer, Nyjer Morgan, Bryan Morris, Luis Munoz, Ronny Paulino, Steve Pearce, Alex Presley, Carlos Rivera, Romulo Sanchez, Josh Sharpless, Ian Snell, Steve Sparks, Chris Tremie, John Van Benschoten, Neil Walker, Tony Watson, Duke Welker, Dave Williams, Shane Youman.
San Diego Padres: (9) Carl Edwards, Jr., Robbie Erlin, Jon Garland, Dave Lundquist, Luis Sardinas, Craig Stansberry, Christian Villanueva, Joe Wieland, Chris Young.
San Francisco Giants: (8) Jose Castillo, Rajai Davis, Jeff Keppinger, Andrew McCutchen, Bryan Morris, Neil Ramirez, Aaron Rowand, Tony Watson
St Louis Cardinals: (6) Zach Duke, Mark Johnson, Drew Robinson, Nerio Rodriguez, Jason Simontacchi, Rico Washington.
Washington Nationals: (13) Jonathan Albaladejo, Joe Beimel, Brian Bixler, Sean Burnett, Matt Capps, JJ Davis, Abel De Los Santos, Zach Duke, Tom Gorzelanny, Adam LaRoche, Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Jason Simontacchi.
Overall, 178 players have donned a Hickory Crawdads uniform and played in the major leagues. Yesterday, I posted a list of the names in order of their debut dates. Today, the list is in alphabetical order along with years they played for Hickory, the debut dates, and what team(s) each played for.
CRAWDADS IN THE MAJORS (Bold indicates player was active as of March 13, 2020)
Jeff Abbott (’94, debut 6/10/97) Chicago White Sox 1997-2000, Florida Marlins 2001
Jim Abbott (’97, debut 4/8/89) California Angels 1989-1992, New York Yankees 1993-1994, Chicago White Sox 1995, California Angels 1995-1996, Chicago White Sox 1998, Milwaukee Brewers 1999
Jonathan Albaladejo (’03, debut 9/5/07) Washington Nationals 2007, New York Yankees 2008-2010, Arizona Diamondbacks 2012
Hanser Alberto (’12, debut 5/29/15) Texas Rangers 2015-2018, Baltimore Orioles 2019-2020
Jorge Alfaro (’12-’13, debut 9/12/16) Philadelphia Phillies 2016-2018, Miami Marlins 2019-2020
Tony Alvarez (’00, debut 9/04/02) Pittsburgh Pirates 2002, 2004
Jairo Asencio (formerly known as Luis Valdez) (’05-’06, debut 7/12/09) Atlanta Braves 2009, 2011, Cleveland Indians 2012, Chicago Cubs 2012, Baltimore Orioles 2013
Daniel Bard (’14, debut 5/13/09) Boston Red Sox 2009-2013
Jose Bautista (’02, debut 4/4/04) Baltimore Orioles 2004, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2004, Kansas City Royals 2004, Pittsburgh Pirates 2004-2008, Toronto Blue Jays 2008-2017, Atlanta Braves 2018, New York Mets 2018, Philadephia Phillies 2018
Joe Beimel (’99, debut 4/8/01) Pittsburgh Pirates 2001-2003, Minnesota Twins 2004, Tampa Bay Rays 2005, Los Angeles Dodgers 2006-2008, Washington Nationals 2009, Colorado Rockies 2009-2010, Pittsburgh Pirates 2011, Seattle Mariners 2014-2015
Kevin Beirne (’95, debut 5/17/00) Chicago White Sox 2000, Toronto Blue Jays 2001, Los Angeles Dodgers 2002
Chad Bell (’10, ’14, debut 5/10/17) Detroit Tigers 2017-2018
Jeff Bennett (’00, debut 4/6/04) Milwaukee Brewers 2004, Atlanta Braves 2007-2009, Tampa Bay Rays 2009
Jason Bere (’96, debut 5/27/93) Chicago White Sox 1993-1998, Cincinnati Reds 1998-1999, Milwaukee Brewers 1999-2000, Cleveland Indians 2000, Chicago Cubs 2001-2002, Cleveland Indians 2003
Mike Bertotti (’93, debut 7/29/95) Chicago White Sox 1995-1997
Rocky Biddle (’97, debut 8/10/00) Chicago White Sox 2000-2002, Montreal Expos 2003-2004
Brian Bixler (’05, debut 4/6/08) Pittsburgh Pirates 2008-2009, Washington Nationals 2011, Houston Astros 2012
Richard Bleier (’09, debut 5/30/16) New York Yankees 2016, Baltimore Orioles 2017-2020
Wilfredo Boscan (’09, 5/19/16) Pittsburgh Pirates 2015-2016
Chad Bradford (’96, debut 8/1/98) Chicago White Sox 1998-2000, Oakland A’s 2001-2004, Boston Red Sox 2005, New York Mets 2006, Baltimore Orioles 2007-2008, Tampa Bay Rays 2008-2009
Jake Brigham (’09-’10, debut 6/30/15) Atlanta Braves 2015
Lewis Brinson (’13-’14, debut 6/11/17) Milwaukee Brewers 2017, Miami Marlins 2018-2020
Bryan Bullington (’03 debut 9/18/05) Pittsburgh Pirates 2005, 2007-2008, Cleveland Indians 2008, Toronto Blue Jays 2009, Kansas City Royals 2010
Brock Burke (’19, debut 8/20/19) Texas Rangers 2019-2020
Sean Burnett (’01, debut 5/30/04) Pittsburgh Pirates 2004, 2008-2009, Washington Nationals 2009-2012, Los Angeles Angels 2013-2014, Washington Nationals 2016
Matt Capps (’04-’05, debut 9/15/05) Pittsburgh Pirates 2005-2009, Washington Nationals 2010, Minnesota Twins 2010-2012
DJ Carrasco (’00, debut 4/2/03) Kansas City Royals 2003-2005, Chicago White Sox 2008-2009, Pittsburgh Pirates 2010, Arizona Diamondbacks 2010, New York Mets 2011-2012
Carlos Castillo (’94-’95, debut 7/22/01) Chicago White Sox 1997-1999, Boston Red Sox 2001
Fabio Castillo (’09, debut 9/2/17) Los Angeles Dodgers 2017
Jose Castillo (’00, debut 4/7/04) Pittsburgh Pirates 2004-2007, San Francisco 2008, Houston Astros 2008
McKay Christensen (’96-’97, debut 4/6/99) Chicago White Sox 1999-2001, Los Angeles Dodgers 2001, New York Mets 2002
Alexander Claudio (’13, debut 8/13/14) Texas Rangers 2014-2018, Milwaukee Brewers 2019-2020
Chris Clemons (’94 debut 7/23/97) Chicago White Sox 1997
Humberto Cota (’99, debut 9/9/01) Pittsburgh Pirates 2001-2007
Joe Crede (’97, debut 9/12/00) Chicago White Sox 2000-2008, Minnesota Twins 2009
Mike Crotta (’06-’07, debut 4/3/11) Pittsburgh Pirates 2011
Nelson Cruz (’95, debut 8/1/97) Chicago White Sox 1997, Detroit Tigers 1999-2000, Houston Astros 2001-2002, Colorado Rockies 2003
Pat Danekar (’98, debut 7/2/99) Chicago White Sox 1999
Dave Davidson (’05-’06, debut 9/6/07) Pittsburgh Pirates 2007, Florida Marlins 2009
JJ Davis (’99, debut 9/4/02) Pittsburgh Pirates 2002-2004, Washington Nationals 2005
Rajai Davis (’02-’03, debut 8/14/06) Pittsburgh Pirates 2006-2007, San Francisco 2007-2008, Oakland A’s 2008-2010, Toronto Blue Jays 2011-2013, Detroit Tigers 2014-2015, Cleveland Indians 2016, Oakland A’s 2017, Boston Red Sox 2017, Cleveland Indians 2018, New York Mets 2019
Yurendell DeCaster (’01, debut 5/21/06) Pittsburgh Pirates 2006
Abel De Los Santos (’14, debut 7/21/15) Washington Nationals 2015, Cincinnati Reds 2016
Jason Dellaero (’97, debut 9/7/99) Chicago White Sox 1999
Chris Demaria (’04, debut 9/9/05) Kansas City Royals 2005-2006
Travis Demeritte (’14-’15, debut 8/2/19) Detroit Tigers 2019-2020
Ryan Doumit (’01-’02 debut 6/5/05) Pittsburgh Pirates 2005-2011, Minnesota Twins 2012-2013, Atlanta Braves 2014
Zach Duke (’03, debut 7/2/05) Pittsburgh Pirates 2005-2010, Arizona Diamondbacks 2011, Washington Nationals 2012-2013, Cincinnati Reds 2013, Milwaukee Brewers 2014, Chicago White Sox 2015-2016, St. Louis Cardinals 2016-2017, Minnesota Twins 2018, Seattle Mariners 2018, Cincinnati Reds 2019
Carl Edwards (’13, debut 9/7/15) Chicago Cubs 2015-2019, San Diego Padres 2019, Seattle Mariners 2020
Cody Ege (’13, debut 4/23/16) Miami Marlins 2016, Los Angeles Angels 2016
Jerad Eickhoff (’12, debut 8/21/15) Philadelphia Phillies 2015-2019, San Diego Padres 2020
Brad Eldred (’03, debut 7/22/05) Pittsburgh Pirates 2005, 2007, Colorado Rockies 2010, Detroit Tigers 2012
Cody Eppley (’09, debut 4/23/11) Texas Rangers 2011, New York Yankees 2012-2013
Robbie Erlin (’10) San Diego Padres 2013-2019, Pittsburgh Pirates 2020
Peter Fairbanks (’16, debut 6/9/19) Texas Rangers 2019, Tampa Bay Rays 2019-2020
Andrew Faulkner (’12-’13, debut 8/31/15) Texas Rangers 2015-2016
Josh Fogg (’98, debut 9/2/01) Chicago White Sox 2001, Pittsburgh Pirates 2002-2005, Colorado Rockies 2006-2007, Cincinnati Reds 2008, Colorado Rockies 2009
Wilmer Font (’09-’10, debut 9/18/12) Texas Rangers 2012-2013, Los Angeles Dodgers 2017-2018, Oakland A’s 2018, Tampa Bay Rays 2018-2019, New York Mets 2019, Toronto Blue Jays 2019-2020
Tom Fordham (’93-’94, debut 8/19/97) Chicago White Sox 1997-1998
Joey Gallo (’13, debut 6/2/15) Texas Rangers 2015-2020
Leury Garcia (’09-’10, debut 4/6/13) Texas Rangers 2013, Chicago White Sox 2013-2020
Luis Garcia (’96, debut 4/10/02) Baltimore Orioles 2002
Nick Gardewine (’15, debut 8/22/17) Texas Rangers 2017-2018
Jon Garland (’98, debut 7/4/00) Chicago White Sox 2000-2007, Los Angeles Angels 2008, Arizona Diamondbacks 2009, Los Angeles Dodgers 2009, San Diego Padres 2010, Los Angeles Dodgers 2011, Colorado Rockies 2013
Reed Garrett (’15, debut 3/29/19) Detroit Tigers 2019
Tom Gorzelanny (’04, debut 9/20/05) Pittsburgh Pirates 2005-2009, Chicago Cubs 2009-2010, Washington Nationals 2011-2012, Milwaukee Brewers 2013-2014, Detroit Tigers 2015, Cleveland Indians 2016
John Grabow (’99, debut 9/14/03) Pittsburgh Pirates 2003-2009, Chicago Cubs 2009-2011
Justin Grimm (’11, debut 6/16/12) Texas Rangers 2012-2013, Chicago Cubs 2013-2017, Kansas City Royals 2018, Seattle Mariners 2018
Ronald Guzman (’13, ’14, ’15, debut 4/13/18) Texas Rangers 2018-2019
Matt Hague (’08, debut 4/7/12) Pittsburgh Pirates 2012, 2014, Toronto Blue Jays 2015
Mark Hamburger (’09, debut 8/31/11) Texas Rangers 2011
Chris Heintz (’97, debut 9/10/05) Minnesota Twins 2005-2007
Bob Henley (’02, debut 7/19/98) Montreal Expos 1998
Jonathan Hernandez (’16-’17, debut 8/21/19) Texas Rangers 2019-2020
Odubel Herrera (’11, debut 4/6/15) Philadelphia Phillies 2015-2020
JR House (’99-’00, debut 9/27/03) Pittsburgh Pirates 2003-2004, Houston Astros 2006, Baltimore Orioles 2007, Houston Astros 2008
Jared Hughes (’06-’07, debut 9/7/11) Pittsburgh Pirates 2011-2016, Milwaukee Brewers 2017, Cincinnati Reds 2018-2019, Philadelphia Phillies 2019, Houston Astros 2020
Hansel Izquierdo (’98, debut 4/21/02) Florida Marlins 2002
Luke Jackson (debut 9/4/15) Texas Rangers 2015-2016, Atlanta Braves 2017-2020
Mark Johnson (’95, debut 9/14/98) Chicago White Sox 1998-2002, Oakland A’s 2003, Milwaukee Brewers 2004, St Louis Cardinals 2008\
Mike Johnston (’00-01, debut 4/7/04) Pittsburgh Pirates 2004-2005
James Jones (’16, debut 4/18/14) Seattle Mariners 2014-2015
Ariel Jurado (’15, debut 5/19/18) Texas Rangers 2018-2020
Keone Kela (’13, debut 4/7/15) Texas Rangers 2015-2018, Pittsburgh Pirates 2018-2020
Jeff Keppinger (’02, debut 8/20/04) New York Mets 2004, Kansas City Royals 2006, Cincinnati Reds 2007-2008, Houston Astros 2009-2011, San Francisco Giants 2011, Tampa Bay Rays 2012, Chicago White Sox 2013
Isiah Kiner-Falefa (’14-’15, debut 4/10/18) Texas Rangers 2018-2020
Phil Klein (’12 debut 8/1/14) Texas Rangers 2014-2016, Philadelphia Phillies 2016
Adam LaRoche (’08, debut 4/7/04) Atlanta Braves 2004-2006, Pittsburgh Pirates 2007-2009, Boston Red Sox 2009, Atlanta Braves 2009, Arizona Diamondbacks 2010, Washington Nationals 2011-2014, Chicago White Sox 2015.
Jose LeClerc (’13, debut 7/6/16) Texas Rangers 2016-2020
Carlos Lee (’95-’96, debut 5/7/99) Chicago White Sox 1999-2004, Milwaukee Brewers 2005-2006, Texas Rangers 2006, Houston Astros 2007-2012, Miami Marlins 2012
Steve Lerud (’05-’06) Philadelphia Phillies 2012-2013
Brent Lillibridge (’06, debut 4/26/08) Atlanta Braves 2008, Chicago White Sox 2009-2012, Boston Red Sox 2012, Cleveland Indians 2012, Chicago Cubs 2013, New York Yankees 2013
Brad Lincoln (’06, ’08, debut 6/9/10) Pittsburgh Pirates 2010-2012, Toronto Blue Jays 2012-2013, Philadelphia Phillies 2014
Josh Lueke (’10, debut 4/3/11) Seattle Mariners 2011, Tampa Bay Rays 2012-2014
Dave Lundquist (’94, ’04, debut 4/6/99) Chicago White Sox 1999, San Diego 2001-2002
Paul Maholm (’04, debut 8/20/05) Pittsburgh Pirates 2005-2011, Chicago Cubs 2012, Atlanta Braves 2012-2013, Los Angeles Dodgers 2014
Josias Manzanillo (’02, debut 10/5/91) Boston Red Sox 1991, Milwaukee Brewers 1993, New York Mets 1993-1995, New York Yankees 1995, Seattle Mariners 1997, New York Mets 1999, Pittsburgh Pirates 2000-2002, Cincinnati Reds 2003, Florida Marlins 2004
Brett Martin (’15-’16, debut 4/19/19) Texas Rangers 2019-2020
Javier Martinez (’99, debut 4/2/98) Pittsburgh Pirates 1998
Nick Martinez (’12, debut 4/5/14) Texas Rangers 2014-2017
Nomar Mazara (’13-’14, debut 4/10/16) Texas Rangers 2016-2019, Chicago White Sox 2020
Andrew McCutchen (’06, debut 6/4/09) Pittsburgh Pirates 2009-2017, San Francisco Giants 2018, Philadephia Phillies 2019-2020
Nate McLouth (’01, debut 6/29/05) Pittsburgh Pirates 2005-2009, Atlanta Braves 2009-2011, Pittsburgh Pirates 2012, Baltimore Orioles 2012-2013, Washington Nationals 2014-2015
Roman Mendez (’11, debut 7/8/14) Texas Rangers 2014-2015, Boston Red Sox 2015
Yohander Mendez (’14-’15, debut 9/5/16) Texas Rangers 2016-2020
Frank Menechino (’93, debut 9/6/99) Oakland A’s 1999-2004, Toronto Blue Jays 2004-2005
Jordy Mercer (’08, debut 5/29/12) Pittsburgh Pirates 2012-2018, Detroit Tigers 2019-2020
Dustin Molleken (’07-’08, debut 7/4/16) Detroit Tigers 2016
Dylan Moore (’15-’16, debut 3/20/19) Seattle Mariners 2019
Nyjer Morgan (’04, debut 9/1/07) Pittsburgh Pirates 2007-2009, Washington Nationals 2009-2010, Milwaukee Brewers 2011-2012, Cleveland Indians 2014
Bryan Morris (’08, debut 9/14/12) Pittsburgh Pirates 2012-2014, Miami Marlins 2014-2016, San Francisco Giants 2017
Luis Munoz (’05-’06, did not appear) Pittsburgh Pirates 2008
Aaron Myette (’97-’98, debut 9/7/99) Chicago White Sox 1999-2000, Texas Rangers 2001-2002, Cleveland 2003, Cincinnati Reds 2004
Greg Norton (’93, debut 8/18/96) Chicago White Sox 1996-2000, Colorado Rockies 2001-2003, Detroit Tigers 2004, Tampa Bay Rays 2006-2007, Seattle Mariners 2008, Atlanta Braves 2008-2009
Roberto Novoa (’02, debut 7/29/04) Detroit Tigers 2004, Chicago Cubs 2005-2006
Rougned Odor (’14, debut 5/8/14) Texas Rangers 2014-2020
Magglio Ordonez (’93-’94, debut 8/29/97) Chicago White Sox 1997-2004 Detroit Tigers 2005-2011
Joseph Ortiz (’09-’10, debut 3/31/13) Texas Rangers 2013
Luis Ortiz (’14-’15, debut 9/7/18) Baltimore Orioles 2018-2019
Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly known as Leo Nunez) (’02-’04, debut 5/9/05) Kansas City Royals 2005-2008, Florida Marlins 2009-2011, Tampa Bay Rays 2014
Henry Owens (’03, debut 7/7/06) New York Mets 2006, Florida Marlins 2007
Joe Palumbo (’15-’16, debut 6/8/19) Texas Rangers 2019-2020
Josh Paul (’96, debut 9/7/99) Chicago White Sox 1999-2003, Chicago Cubs 2003, Los Angeles Angels 2004-2005, Tampa Bay Rays 2006-2007
Ronny Paulino (’00, debut 9/25/05) Pittsburgh Pirates 2005-2008, Florida Marlins 2009-2010, New York Mets 2011, Baltimore Orioles 2012
Pedro Payano (’15-’16, debut 7/6/19) Texas Rangers 2019
Steve Pearce (’08, debut 9/1/07) Pittsburgh Pirates 2007-2011, Houston Astros 2012, New York Yankees 2012, Baltimore Orioles 2012-2015, Tampa Bay Rays 2016, Baltimore Orioles 2016, Toronto Blue Jays 2017-2018, Boston Red Sox 2018-2019
C.D. Pelham (’17, debut 9/5/18) Texas Rangers 2018
Jesus Pena (’97, debut 8/7/99) Chicago White Sox 1999-2000, Boston Red Sox 2000
Martin Perez (’09, debut 6/27/12) Texas Rangers 2012-2018, Minnesota Twins 2019, Boston Red Sox 2020
Alex Presley (’07, debut 9/8/10) Pittsburgh Pirates 2010 -2013, Minnesota Twins 2013, Houston Astros 2014-2015, Milwaukee Brewers 2016, Detroit Tigers 2016-2017
Jurickson Profar (’11, debut 9/2/12) Texas Rangers 2012-2018, Oakland A’s 2019, San Diego Padres 2020
Neil Ramirez (’09-’10, debut 4/26/14) Chicago Cubs 2014-2016, Milwaukee Brewers 2016, Minnesota Twins 2016, Sam Francisco Giants 2017, Toronto Blue Jays 2017, New York Mets 2017, Cleveland Indians 2018-2019, Toronto Blue Jays 2019-2020
Todd Redmond (’06, debut 8/18/12) Atlanta Braves 2012, Cincinnati Reds 2012, Toronto Blue Jays 2013-2015
Carlos Rivera (’99, debut 6/22/03) Pittsburgh Pirates 2003-2004
Drew Robinson (’12, debut 4/5/17) Texas Rangers 2017-2018, St. Louis Cardinals 2019
Liu Rodriguez (’96-’97, debut 6/9/99) Chicago White Sox 1999
Nerio Rodriguez (’93, debut 8/18/96) Baltimore 1996-1998, Toronto Blue Jays 1998-1999, Cleveland Indians 2002, St Louis Cardinals 2002
Ricardo Rodriguez (’14-’15, debut 8/14/17) Texas Rangers 2017-2018
Jamie Romak (’07, debut 5/28/14) Los Angeles Dodgers 2014, Arizona Diamondbacks 2015
Pete Rose, Jr (’94, debut 9/1/97) Cincinnati Reds 1997
Robbie Ross (’10, debut 4/8/12) Texas Rangers 2012-2014, Boston Red Sox 2015-2017
Aaron Rowand (’98, debut 6/16/01) Chicago White Sox 2001-2005, Philadelphia Phillies 2006-2007, San Francisco 2008-2011
Ben Rowen (’11, debut 6/15/14) Texas Rangers 2014, Chicago Cubs 2015, Milwaukee Brewers 2016
Ryan Rua (’13, debut 8/29/14) Texas Rangers 2014-2018
Connor Sadzeck (’13, debut 9/1/18) Texas Rangers 2018, Seattle Mariners 2019
Romulo Sanchez (’05-’06, debut 8/26/07) Pittsburgh Pirates 2007-2008, New York Yankees 2010
Danny Sandoval (’98, debut 7/17/05) Philadelphia Phillies 2005-2006
Luis Sardinas (’12, debut 4/20/14) Texas Rangers 2014, Milwaukee Brewers 2015, Seattle Mariners 2016, San Diego Padres 2016-2017, Baltimore Orioles 2018
Brian Schmack (’96, debut 8/24/03) Detroit Tigers 2003
Josh Sharpless (’04, debut 8/1/06) Pittsburgh Pirates 2006-2007
Chris Shelton (’02, debut 4/15/04) Detroit Tigers 2004-2006, Texas Rangers 2008, Seattle Mariners 2009
Brian Simmons (’95, debut 9/21/98) Chicago White Sox 1998-1999, Toronto Blue Jays 2001
Jason Simontacchi (’99, debut 5/4/02) St Louis Cardinals 2002-2004, Washington Nationals 2007
Ian Snell (’02, debut 8/4/04) Pittsburgh Pirates 2004-2009, Seattle Mariners 2009-2010
Steve Sparks (’99, debut 7/19/00) Pittsburgh Pirates 2000
Jeffrey Springs (’15-’16, debut 7/31/18) Texas Rangers 2018-2019, Boston Red Sox 2020
Craig Stansberry (’04, debut 8/25/07) San Diego Padres 2007-2009
Erik Swanson (’15-’16, debut 4/11/19) Seattle Mariners 2019-2020
Dillon Tate (’15-’16, debut 7/29/19) Baltimore Orioles 2019-2020
Tomas Telis (’11, debut 8/25/14) Texas Rangers 2014-2015, Miami Marlins 2015-2018
Nick Tepesch (’11, debut 4/9/13) Texas Rangers 2013-2014, Los Angeles Dodgers 2016, Kansas City Royals 2016, Minnesota Twins 2017, Toronto Blue Jays 2017
Chris Tremie (’93, debut 7/1/95) Chicago White Sox 1995, Texas Rangers 1998, Pittsburgh Pirates 1999, Houston Astros 2004
Jose Trevino (’15, debut 6/15/18) Texas Rangers 2018-2020
Mario Valdez (’95, debut 6/15/97) Chicago White Sox 1997, Oakland A’s 2000-2001
John Van Benschoten (’02, debut 8/18/04) Pittsburgh Pirates 2004, 2007-2008
Christian Villanueva (’11, debut 9/18/17) San Diego Padres 2017-2018
Neil Walker (’05, debut 9/1/09) Pittsburgh Pirates 2009-2015, New York Mets 2016-2017, Milwaukee Brewers 2017, New York Yankees 2018, Miami Marlins 2019, Philadelphia Phillies 2020
Rico Washington (’99, debut 4/1/08) St Louis Cardinals 2008
Tony Watson (’07, debut 6/8/11) Pittsburgh Pirates 2011-2017, Los Angeles Dodgers 2017, San Francisco Giants 2019-2020
Duke Welker (’08, 6/23/13) Pittsburgh Pirates 2013
Matt West (’09-’10, debut 7/10/14) Texas Rangers 2014, Los Angeles Dodgers 2015
Joe Wieland (’09-’10, debut 4/14/12) San Diego Padres 2012, 2014, Los Angeles Dodgers 2015, Seattle Mariners 2016
Dave Williams (’99-’00, debut 6/6/01) Pittsburgh Pirates 2001-2005, Cincinnati Reds 2006, New York Mets 2006-2007
Nick Williams (’13, debut 6/30/17) Philadelphia Phillies 2017-2020
Shane Youman (’03, debut 9/10/06) Pittsburgh Pirates 2006-2007
Chris Young (’01-’02, debut 8/24/04) Texas Rangers 2004-2005, San Diego Padres 2006-2010, New York Mets 2011-12, Seattle Mariners 2014, Kansas City Royals 2015-2017
Walter Young (’02, debut 9/6/05) Baltimore Orioles 2005
With the winter sports season for area high schools concluding this week, I was beginning to get the itch for baseball. I began updating things and setting up Crawdads coverage. And then Coronavirus hit. The likelihood of no baseball for a while bites but there is not much one can do.
So, I decided to make put some things on here related to Crawdads history, and perhaps jog some memories for Hickory fans.
Today, it’s a list of all 178 former players that have received a callup to the majors, or who played here in a rehab assignment. This will include one poor soul that got a promotion to the Pittsburgh Pirates, but never saw major league action before going back to AAA. His name was Luis Munoz, a pitcher that played until 2016 with Ottawa in the independent Can-Am League. His moment in a big league uniform came in 2008.
From Chris Tremie to Jonathan Hernandez, here is the list:
CRAWDADS IN THE MAJORS (Listed by Debut Date) Still Active in majors
- Jim Abbott (debut 4/8/89) rehab player 1998
- Josias Manzanillo (debut 10/5/91) rehab 2002
- Jason Bere (debut 5/27/93) rehab player 1996
- Chris Tremie (debut 7/1/95) 1st Crawdads player to appear in major leagues.
- Mike Bertotti (debut 7/29/95)
- Nerio Rodriguez (debut 8/18/96)
- Greg Norton (debut 8/18/96)
- Jeff Abbott (debut 6/10/97)
- Mario Valdez (debut 6/15/97)
- Chris Clemons (debut 7/23/97)
- Nelson Cruz (debut 8/1/97)
- Magglio Ordonez (debut 8/29/97)
- Tom Fordham (debut 8/19/97)
- Pete Rose, Jr (debut 9/1/97)
- Javier Martinez (debut 4/2/98)
- Bob Henley (debut 7/19/98) played in Hickory in 2002.
- Chad Bradford (debut 8/1/98)
- Mark Johnson (debut 9/14/98)
- Brian Simmons (debut 9/21/98)
- McKay Christensen (debut 4/6/99)
- Dave Lundquist (debut 4/6/99)
- Carlos Lee (debut 5/7/99)
- Liu Rodriguez (debut 6/9/99)
- Pat Danekar (debut 7/2/99)
- Jesus Pena (debut 8/7/99)
- Frank Menechino (debut 9/6/99)
- Jason Dellaero (debut 9/7/99)
- Aaron Myette (debut 9/7/99)
- Josh Paul (debut 9/7/99)
- Kevin Beirne (debut 5/17/00)
- Jon Garland (debut 7/4/00)
- Steve Sparks (debut 7/19/00) 1st player as Pirate affiliate in majors
- Rocky Biddle (debut 8/10/00)
- Joe Crede (debut 9/12/00)
- Joe Beimel (debut 4/8/01)
- Dave Williams (debut 6/6/01)
- Aaron Rowand (debut 6/16/01)
- Carlos Castillo (debut 7/22/01)
- Josh Fogg (debut 9/2/01)
- Humberto Cota (debut 9/9/01)
- Luis Garcia (debut 4/10/02)
- Hansel Izquierdo (debut 4/21/02)
- Jason Simontacchi (debut 5/4/02)
- JJ Davis (debut 9/4/02)
- Tony Alvarez (debut 9/4/02)
- DJ Carrasco (debut 4/2/03)
- Carlos Rivera (debut 6/22/03)
- Brian Schmack (debut 8/24/03)
- John Grabow (debut 9/14/03)
- JR House (debut 9/27/03)
- Jose Bautista (debut 4/4/04)
- Jeff Bennett (debut 4/6/04)
- Adam LaRoche (debut 4/7/04) rehab player in 2008
- Mike Johnston (debut 4/7/04)
- Jose Castillo (debut 4/7/04)
- Chris Shelton (debut 4/15/04)
- Sean Burnett (debut 5/30/04)
- Roberto Novoa (debut 7/29/04)
- Ian Snell (debut 8/4/04)
- John Van Benschoten (debut 8/18/04)
- Jeff Keppinger (debut 8/20/04)
- Chris Young (debut 8/24/04)
- Juan Carlos Oviedo (debut 5/9/05)
- Ryan Doumit (debut 6/5/05)
- Nate McLouth (debut 6/29/05)
- Zach Duke (debut 7/2/05)
- Danny Sandoval (debut 7/17/05)
- Brad Eldred (debut 7/22/05)
- Paul Maholm (debut 8/20/05)
- Walter Young (debut 9/6/05)
- Chris Demaria (debut 9/9/05)
- Chris Heintz (debut 9/10/05)
- Matt Capps (debut 9/15/05)
- Bryan Bullington (debut 9/18/05)
- Tom Gorzelanny (debut 9/20/05)
- Ronny Paulino (debut 9/25/05)
- Yurendell DeCaster (debut 5/21/06)
- Henry Owens (debut 7/7/06)
- Josh Sharpless (debut 8/1/06)
- Rajai Davis (debut 8/14/06)
- Shane Youman (debut 9/10/06)
- Craig Stansberry (debut 8/25/07)
- Romulo Sanchez (debut 8/26/07)
- Steve Pearce (debut 9/1/07)
- Nyjer Morgan (debut 9/1/07)\
- Jonathan Albaladejo (debut 9/5/07)
- Dave Davidson (debut 9/6/07)
- Rico Washington (debut 4/1/08)
- Brian Bixler (debut 4/6/08)
- Brent Lillibridge (debut 4/26/08)
- Luis Munoz (did not appear, called up 7/10/08)
- Andrew McCutchen (debut 6/4/09)
- Jairo Asencio (debut 7/12/09)
- Neil Walker (debut 9/1/09)
- Brad Lincoln (debut 6/9/10)
- Alex Presley (debut 9/8/10)
- Mike Crotta (debut 4/3/11)
- Josh Lueke (debut 4/3/11) 1st player as Rangers affiliate in majors
- Cody Eppley (debut 4/23/11)
- Tony Watson (debut 6/8/11)
- Mark Hamburger (debut 8/31/11)
- Jared Hughes (debut 9/7/11)
- Matt Hague (debut 4/7/12)
- Robbie Ross (debut 4/8/12)
- Joe Wieland (debut 4/14/12)
- Jordy Mercer (debut 5/29/12)
- Justin Grimm (debut 6/16/12)
- Martin Perez (debut 6/27/12)
- Todd Redmond (debut 8/18/12)
- Steve Lerud (debut 8/30/12)
- Jurickson Profar (debut 9/2/12)
- Bryan Morris (debut 9/14/12)
- Wilmer Font (debut 9/18/12)
- Joseph Ortiz (debut 3/31/13)
- Leury Garcia (debut 4/6/13)
- Nick Tepesch (debut 4/9/13)
- Robbie Erlin (debut 4/30/13)
- Duke Welker (debut 6/23/13)
- Nick Martinez (debut 4/5/14)
- Luis Sardinas (debut 4/21/14)
- Neil Ramirez (debut 4/26/14)
- Rougned Odor (debut 5/8/14)
- Jamie Romak (debut 5/18/14)
- Daniel Bard (debut 5/15/09) rehab 2014
- Ben Rowen (debut 6/15/14)
- Roman Mendez (debut 7/8/14)
- Matt West (debut 7/10/14)
- Phil Klein (debut 8/1/14)
- Alexander Claudio (debut 8/13/14)
- Tomas Telis (debut 8/25/14)
- Ryan Rua (debut 8/29/14)
- Odubel Herrera (debut 4/6/15)
- Keone Kela (debut 4/7/15)
- Wilfredo Boscan (5/19/16)
- Hanser Alberto (debut 5/29/15)
- Joey Gallo (debut 6/2/15)
- Jake Brigham (debut 6/30/15)
- Abel De Los Santos (debut 7/21/15)
- Luke Jackson (debut 9/4/15)
- Jerad Eickhoff (debut 8/21/15)
- Andrew Faulkner (debut 8/31/15)
- CJ Edwards (debut 9/7/15)
- Nomar Mazara (debut 4/10/16)
- Cody Ege (debut 4/23/16)
- Richard Bleier (debut 5/30/16)
- Dustin Molleken (debut 7/4/16)
- Jose Leclerc (debut 7/6/16)
- James Jones (debut 4/18/14)
- Jorge Alfaro (debut 9/12/16)
- Yohander Mendez (debut 9/5/16)
- Drew Robinson (debut 4/5/17)
- Chad Bell (debut 5/10/17)
- Lewis Brinson (debut 6/11/17)
- Nick Williams (debut 6/30/17)
- Ricardo Rodriguez (debut 8/8/17)
- Nick Gardewine (debut 8/22/17)
- Fabio Castillo (debut 9/2/17)
- Christian Villanueva (debut 9/18/17)
- Isiah Kiner-Falefa (debut 4/10/18)
- Ronald Guzman (debut 4/13/18)
- Ariel Jurado (debut 5/19/18)
- Jose Trevino (debut 6/15/18)
- Jeffrey Springs (debut 7/31/18)
- Connor Sadzeck (debut 9/1/18)
- Ryan Cordell (debut 9/3/18)
- CD Pelham (debut 9/5/18
- Luis Ortiz (debut 9/7/18)
- Dylan Moore (debut 3/20/19)
- Reed Garrett (debut 3/29/19)
- Erik Swanson (debut 4/11/19)
- Brett Martin (debut 4/19/19)
- Joe Palumbo (debut 6/8/19)
- Peter Fairbanks (debut 6/9/19)
- Pedro Payano (debut 7/6/19)
- Dillon Tate (debut 7/29/19)
- Travis Demeritte (debut 8/2/19)
- Brock Burke (debut 8/20/19)
- Jonathan Hernandez (debut 8/21/19)
Remember being a little kid with your friends and you’d pick teams to play whatever sport was in season, and there was that one kid no one wanted on their team. And there’d be this long back-and-forth of, “I don’t want him, you take him.” The Hickory Crawdads and Greensboro Grasshoppers played nine innings of that game Tuesday night.
Greensboro had the final “you can take it” in the eighth and Hickory finally said, “okay” and went home with a 4-3 win in front of 1,382 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium. The victory wrapped up a 3-1 series win over the Grasshoppers and completed a 5-3 homestand, the longest of the season.
Unfortunately for Hickory, it did not make up ground on Delmarva (Md.), which defeated in-state rival Hagerstown 5-4 to move to 40-11, seven games ahead of the Crawdads in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division. However, the Crawdads (33-18) moved within a game of Greensboro (34-17) for second place, which could have a bearing at the end of the season. If Delmarva goes on to win the first half – the Shorebirds now lead Greensboro by six games with 19 to play – and then takes the second half, as well, the team in the division with the next best record will take a wildcard spot in the playoffs.
Even by Low-A ball standards, this was an ugly one. On the books, Hickory walked seven, while Greensboro hit three batters and walked two. Combined, the teams – among the top offenses in the SAL – had just ten hits and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. It took two errors in the eighth that literally gave the Crawdads the decisive run.
Facing Cole Winn, the Grasshoppers scored in the first. With two outs, Winn walked both Mason Martin and Rodolfo Castro. Crawdads killer Michael Gretler – he went 4-for-8 with four walks after entering Sunday’s game at .182/.250/.218 – singled in Martin to make it 1-0.
The Crawdads punched back with two-out firepower in the bottom of the inning. Greensboro starter Brad Case entered the game with only three home runs allowed over 55.2 innings. Curtis Terry and Sherten Apostel added two more to Case’s ledger after putting up back-to-back solo shots and Hickory then lead 2-1. Terry’s blast to left was his 12th of the season and Apostel hit his fourth.
The score remained 2-1 until the seventh, but both teams missed opportunities to add runs. In the top of the second, Winn walked two of the three he faced. However, the right-hander induced Zac Susi to hit into a double play. After Kyle Mottice walked to bring up Ji-Hwan Bae, rather than allow the leadoff hitter batting .320 to take cuts against a struggling pitcher, Mottice took off for second and was thrown out by catcher Matt Whatley.
It was Hickory’s turn to botch a rally in the third. Jonathan Ornelas was hit by a pitch, then moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on Miguel Aparicio’s lineout to right. With the infield playing in to cut off the run at third, Terry hit a ball to the second baseman Castro, playing on the shortstop side of the bag. Castro fields the ball, checks Ornelas twice at third. Seemingly daring Castro to throw to first so Ornelas could sprint home, Castro took the day and threw behind Ornelas to catch him returning to the bag.
Greensboro put seven runners on over four innings against Winn, but scored just the one in the first. Case retired ten in a row after hitting Ornelas before running into trouble in the sixth. With one out Case hit both Terry and Apostel before the Grasshoppers signaled for Will Gardner in relief. Gardner walked Melvin Novoa on four pitches to bring up Pedro Gonzalez. After talking the first pitch for a ball, Gonzalez hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Hickory soon regretted the missed opportunity when Greensboro tied the game in the seventh against reliever Scott Engler. With one out, Justin Harrer walked and moved to third on Brett Kinneman’s double. Susi’s fly ball to left scored Harrer to tie the game at 2.
Greensboro took the lead in the eight when Fabricio Macias lined a Grant Anderson pitch over the wall in left, his seventh of the season.
Hitless since the first, with one out the Crawdads got infield hits from both Miguel Aparicio and Terry. From there, the inning fell apart for the Grasshoppers. Novoa hit a routine fly to center for the second out. As the ball returned to the mound, the throw by Bae skips past the pitcher Conner Loeprich to the backstop. Alertly, while Greensboro argued as to whether it had called time, Terry and Apostel moved up to second and third.
It then got worse for the Grasshoppers. With Gonzalez at the plate, Loeprich bounced a pitch to the backstop. Terry scored on the wild pitch and when Susi’s throw to the plate zoomed past Loeprich (1-2) covering, Apostel sprinted all the way home for the go-ahead run.
Anderson (5-3) pitched a perfect ninth to close out the game.
After a day off Wednesday, the Crawdads return to action Thursday to start a four-game series at Kannapolis.
The Hickory Crawdads suffered major changes to their lineup over the past week. Yet on Thursday, the retooled group put together a steady performance for a 6-2 win over Asheville at L.P. Frans Stadium.
After losing their second in a row for the first time this year on Wednesday, Hickory (22-10) never trailed in evening the three-game series with its in-state, South Atlantic League rival. The Crawdads and Tourists (11-21) will finish off the series Friday night.
The victory also placed Hickory back in sole possession of second place after Greensboro (21-11) lost at Delmarva (Md.) on Thursday. However, because Delmarva (25-5) won, Hickory remained four games behind the Shorebirds in the Northern Division.
During the day on Thursday, the Crawdads received news on two of their top hitting prospects. Catcher Sam Huff, who leads the minors with 15 home runs, was promoted to High-A Down East.
Hickory also received word that shortstop Chris Seise will miss the remainder of the season after he will undergo surgery for a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. Seise injured the shoulder during a play last Thursday in Greenville. The Crawdads are still without outfielder Miguel Aparicio who went to the injured list last week getting hit in the eye with a throw in Greenville (S.C.) last week.
With the changes at hand, the revamp lineup collected 11 hits on Thursday with all nine players getting at least one.
“We’ve had some pretty major subtractions to our roster lately,” said Crawdads manager Matt Hagen. “But, the saying is next man up. We still have a really good team. It’s actually going to give some guys more opportunities to blossom into the best version of themselves that they can possibly be.”
Scoreless after three, the Crawdads finally broke through against starter Shelby Lackey (1-3). With runners on the corners and none out, Tanner Gardner’s fielder’s choice scored Jonathan Ornelas, who singled to start the inning. Pedro Gonzalez reached on an infield hit, then he and Gardner advanced to second and third on a throwing error by Coco Montes at third. One out later, Jose Almonte doubled to the wall in left center to make it 3-0.
Hickory’s Ronny Henriquez was dominant in his start over four shutout innings. The 18-year-old struck out eight and gave up just two singles during his 54-pitch (38 strikes) outing.
“He’s shown that at times,” said Hagen. “But what he did tonight was the first time he’s shown that for a four-inning stint. Tonight, he was in control for all four.”
Particularly effective was the use of the slider by right-handed Henriquez against left-handed hitters. Henriquez set the tone right away by striking out the side in the first. All three outpitches were sliders in at the hands.
“Usually, from a right-handed guy,” Hagen said. “You want to see something that can equalize bats, and you think changeup. He’s slider was absolutely on tonight as the equalizer.”
Tai Tiedemann took over and after a scoreless inning, the Tourists struck back in the sixth. Kyle Datres walked and was joined on the bases by Cade Harris, who reached on a bunt single. A sacrifice moved both up before Grant Lavigne’s grounder to second brought in Datres. Harris later scored on a wild pitch.
However, the Crawdads rebounded quickly with three singles to start the sixth with Sherten Apostel’s single to center scoring Gardner.
Almonte’s second two-run double of the night added insurance runs in the eighth and accounted for the final margin.
Tiedemann (1-0) got the scorer’s decision win. Scott Engler struck out three over two scoreless innings for his third save.
Chad Smith rocked a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Hickory Crawdads a 5-4 win over the Augusta (Ga.) GreenJackets Wednesday night in South Atlantic League action.
The victory was the Crawdads (14-5) second in a row, which gave them the three-game series after losing the opener on Monday. Hickory has now won all six series to open the season. The win also kept Hickory two games behind Delmarva (Md.) in the early Northern Division standings. The Shorebirds (15-2) defeated Asheville 15-7 Wednesday night.
The weeklong homestand continues Thursday when the Crawdads open a four-game series against Lakewood (N.J.) with the first pitch at 7 p.m.
The teams entered the ninth tied at four with Augusta getting the first shot to break the tie. Facing Grant Anderson (2-1), the GreenJackets started the inning with a walk issued to Shane Matheny. Anderson then struck out both Diego Rincones and Frankie Tostado, but Jacob Gonzalez appeared to have given the GreenJackets the lead with a line drive to deep left-center. Off with the crack of the bat, Matheny was on his way to score easily on the hit, but Gonzalez’s drive one-hopped over the wall, which turned the play into a ground-rule double and sent Matheny back to second. Aaron Bond ended the inning with a grounder to short.
Smith finished the game quickly in the bottom of the inning by hitting Solomon Bates’ (1-2) third pitch over the fence in right center. The home run was Smith’s second since he joined the team last Thursday.
Home runs continue to be the story for the Crawdads offense during the first month of the season. Entering the game with the most in the SAL, Hickory added four more Wednesday night to push the total to 26 for the season, 11 more than second-place teams Asheville and Greensboro.
Pedro Gonzalez broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer to left-center. Augusta retied the game quickly in the fifth with a double by Matheny and a single by Rincones.
However, the GreenJackets gave away the lead in the bottom of the inning after Chris Seise reached on Jacob Gonzalez’s fielding error at third and later scored on Curtis Terry’s double.
Pedro Gonzalez added his fifth homer of the season with another solo shot in the sixth to put Hickory up 3-1. However, the Crawdads bullpen struggles continued Wednesday, this time against Tai Tiedemann in the eighth.
Matheny continued his series long assault against Hickory with a leadoff home run, his fourth of the year. Matheny finished the series 6-for-12 with a double and two home runs. Rincones and Tostado each singled to chase Tiedemann with Hickory choosing to bring in Anderson.
A passed ball placed runners at second and third, which set up consecutive sacrifice flies by Gonzalez and Bond, who put Augusta ahead 4-3. The GreenJackets eventually loaded the bases before Ismael Munguia grounded out to third to strand all three.
For the game, Augusta put together 12 hits and received five walks, but hit into two double plays and stranded 11.
Sam Huff set up the ninth with his eighth home run of the season, which leads the SAL. The solo blast was his second in as many nights, both hitting the batter’s eye beyond the centerfield fence.
Hans Crouse – the Texas Rangers’ top prospect (mlb.com) – started for Hickory and held the GreenJackets to one run over six innings with three walks and six hits allowed to go with four strikeouts.
Joey Wong – the San Francisco Giants’ no. 7 prospect – allowed three runs (two earned) on nine hits and struck out five.
Augusta GreenJackets (San Francisco Giants) (8-7, 2nd place, Southern Division)
Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (12-4, 2nd place Northern Division)
The Hickory Crawdads start a seven-game homestand Monday with three against Augusta at L.P. Frans Stadium.
IF YOU PLAN TO GO:
WHERE IS IT?: 2500 Clement Blvd., 1 mile west of U.S. Hwy 321, near entrance to Hickory Airport.
GAME TIMES/ PROMOTIONS:
Monday: Augusta at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. Make-A Difference Monday (Bring canned goods $5 or more in value and receive a free ticket), Salute to Scrubs Week (Healthcare professionals receive a free ticket with a current ID badge)
Tuesday: Augusta at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. Dollar Dog Tuesday ($1 hot dogs, dogs admitted for $1), $2 craft pints, Salute to Scrubs Week (Healthcare professionals receive a free ticket with a current ID badge)
Wednesday: Augusta at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. Kids Win Wednesday (All kids 12 and under receive a free ticket, free meal voucher, and free bounce house, speed pitch and carousel voucher every Wednesday night game) Salute to Scrubs Week (Healthcare professionals receive a free ticket with a current ID badge), Wine Wednesday
TICKETS: $9 tickets in advance, $10 at the gate. Children (12 and under) and seniors $8, $15 for VIP section.
PARKING: All parking is $3.
RECENT SERIES HISTORY:
Hickory swept Augusta in a three-game series last June in the only series played by the two teams. The Crawdads have not played at Augusta since 2016 when they took two of three there. Since 2009, which is the start of the Crawdads affiliation with the Rangers, Augusta holds a 31-29 edge in games played, 19-15 at Hickory.
PROBABLES (Augusta/ Hickory)
Monday: RHP Blake Rivera vs. RHP Tim Brennan
Tuesday: RHP Matt Frisbee vs. RHP Yerry Rodriguez
Wednesday: RHP Jake Wong vs. RHP Hans Crouse
Hickory took two out of three at Columbia (S.C.) over the weekend. During their first homestand, the Crawdads went 4-2 against Kannapolis and Asheville.
Manager: Matt Hagen (2nd season)
Prospects – (team rankings are by MLB.com):
RHP Hans Crouse No.1 (No. 80 in top-100)
SS Chris Seise No. 12
IF Jonathan Ornelas No. 18
C Sam Huff No. 21
3B Sherten Apostel No. 22
RHP Ronny Henriquez No. 20
Possible lineups: C: Matt Whatley or Sam Huff; 1B Curtis Terry; 2B Frainyer Chavez or Jonathan Ornelas; 3B Sherten Apostel; SS Chris Seise; LF: Miguel Aparicio or Chad Smith; CF: Pedro Gonzalez; RF: Jose Almonte.
Pedro Gonzalez – Tied for 6th homers (3)
Sam Huff – 1st home runs (6), 1st total bases, 1st slugging pct. (.722), 3rd OPS (1.037), tied for 10th runs
Jonathan Ornelas – Tied for 10th runs
Chris Seise – tied for 8th steals (5)
Curtis Terry – 1st RBI (19), tied for 2nd homers (4), tied for 4th total bases, tied for 5th doubles (6), 7th slugging pct. (.569)
Matt Whatley – 4th walks
Hans Crouse – 2nd WHIP (0.35), tied for 3rd hit batters (3), 10th ERA (1.26)
Abdiel Mendoza – Tied for 5th saves (2)
Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.229 (10th)/ .294 (13th)/ .416 (2nd)/ .710 (3rd).
Other key rankings: 1st home runs, 3rd runs, 3rd total bases, next to last walks,
1st ERA (2.18), 1st WHIP (0.97), fewest hits allowed, fewest runs allowed, fewest earned runs allowed, tied for fewest home runs allowed (4), fewest walks allowed.
The GreenJackets completed their first homestand of the season on Saturday with a 3-1 loss to Charleston (SC), but finished off the week at 4-2 overall. Because of The Masters in its backyard, Augusta had a nine-game road trip to start the year and managed a 4-5 record.
Manager: Carlos Valderrama (2nd season)
Prospects – Augusta (rankings by MLB.com):
RHP Sean Hjelle No. 6
RHP Jake Wong No. 7
RHP Gregory Santos No. 8
RHP Blake Rivera No. 18
3B Jacob Gonzalez No. 19
LHP Seth Corry No. 25
Possible Lineups: C: Andres Angulo or Jeffry Parra; 1B: Frankie Tostado; 2B: Shane Matheny or Wander Franco; 3B:Jacob Gonzalez; SS: Nico Giarratano or Shane Matheny; LF: Diego Rincones; CF: Jose Layer; RF: Aaron Bond.
Aaron Bond – 3rd strikeouts, tied for 8th steals (5)
Shane Matheny – 4th RBI (15)
Ismael Munguia – Tied for 7th runs
Frankie Tostado – 9th batting avg. (.327), 10th on-base pct. (.411), 10th OPS (.921)
Seth Corry – Tied for 6th walks
Sean Hjelle – 1st innings (19.2)
Jesus Tona – Tied for 1st saves (3)
Franklin Van Gurp – Tied for 9th games pitched (6)
Ryan Walker – Tied for 9th games pitched (6)
Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.234 (6th)/ .333 (4th)/ .346 7th)/.680 (6th)
Other key rankings: 2nd fewest strikeouts, tied for 2nd walks, 12th hits, 12th doubles,
4th fewest hits allowed, 7th ERA (3.35), 8th WHIP (1.29)
NOTES OF INTEREST: RHP Cole Uvila and OF Julio Pablo Martinez were both promoted to High-A Down East last week. RHP Ronny Henriquez, OF Chad Smith joined the club. Henriquez is the first person born in the 2000s to pitch for Hickory … According to MLB.com, should he get to the major leagues, Augusta’s Sean Hjelle would be equal to Jon Rauch as the tallest pitcher in major league history… Augusta’s Jacob Gonzalez is the son of Arizona Diamondbacks World Series hero Luis Gonzalez… Hickory’s Sean Chandler and Augusta’s Keaton Winn both pitched at Iowa Western CC and were drafted one round apart (Winn 5th, Chandler 6th) last summer… Augusta RHP Matt Frisbee is the lone player with a North Carolina connection, as he pitched at Enka High and UNC Greensboro.
It is always a special moment when former teammates from college or high school meet in pro ball for the first time as opponents. Knowing the foxholes that they both went through as teammates, there’s an extra level of respect that exists that is a notch above any other opponent. It’s an even deeper respect for former battery mates.
Kannapolis Intimidators pitcher Taylor Varnell experienced such a moment last Thursday when Hickory Crawdads Matt Whatley, his catcher from their days at Oral Roberts Univ., strolled to the plate to hit in the first inning. It was a moment that didn’t seem fated to happen when the Crawdads posted their lineup earlier that afternoon.
“I came into the clubhouse,” Whatley recalled. “And I didn’t see my name in the lineup. So, I go, ‘okay, I’ve got a day off.’ Then I see that Taylor’s pitching and I go, ‘Man, it’d be kind of fun to face him.’”
However, when a couple of Hickory players came down with minor ailments and were late scratches, Whatley was pressed into duty as the team’s designated hitter. Having already seen the lineup, Varnell, like Whatley, had thought his former ORU teammate was getting the day off.
“When he came walking up there,” said Varnell. “I was kind of surprised. It was hard not to smile a little bit at him.”
Seeing the moment at hand, Whatley tipped his helmet to the pitcher he caught for two seasons in college. “It was fun getting to face Taylor,” said Whatley with a smile. “The last time I got an at-bat off of him was my sophomore fall (season).”
During their time together at Oral Roberts, the two held a genuine respect for each other. In fact, Varnell, who pitched at Western Oklahoma State as a freshman before transferring to ORU, already knew about Whatley when he joined the team.
“From the first time I got on campus, I knew that he was going to be a high draft pick,” Varnell remembered. “I had heard all about him. He’s great behind the dish and a good hitter. I hadn’t seen him behind the plate yet, but he was crazy good back there.”
He credited Whatley, who eventually was the Texas Rangers third-round pick in 2017, for his strike-zone framing abilities, to which, as he said, “got me so many strikes that I wouldn’t have got otherwise.”
After his senior season, Varnell went on to become the 29th-round pick of the Chicago White Sox. Despite some ups-and-downs in his teammate’s career, Whatley thought the left-hander had the ability and would get a chance to go pro.
“It’s fun to see where he’s at from college until now,” said the Crawdads backstop. “He had the stuff, but he was a little inconsistent in college. Now, he’s way more consistent.”
Having thrown to Whatley for two seasons, as they faced each other last Thursday, Varnell knew that he would have to go about his approach to this hitter differently.
“It was kind of hard to attack him in the usual way,” said Varnell. “Because, he knows how I like to pitch. So, I tried to kind of mix it up a little bit.”
The mix of pitches got the better of Whatley in the first when Varnell struck him out. However, in the fourth, Whatley found a pitch he could handle. Unfortunately for Whatley, the line drive to the left side of the infield found the glove of third baseman Bryce Bush.
“It’s baseball,” said Whatley in reaction to the hard out. “Sometimes, you’re going to barrel some stuff up and not get some hits.”
Varnell agreed that Whatley got the better of him the second time.
“That’s a good play by my third baseman,” Varnell admitted. “That one was on me, he should’ve had the hit, honestly.”
In getting to the pros, both players gave credit to another Crawdads alum, Sean Snedeker, who was the pitching coach for Hickory in 1998 during the White Sox affiliation era and later went on to Duke and ORU.
“Sned is one of the best humans I know,” Whatley recalled. “He’s always wanting the best for both of us, but for everyone he’s ever coached. I couldn’t be more happy to have had Sean Snedeker as a pitching coach.”
Varnell said Snedeker, now the pitching coach at Lamar Univ. in Texas, was instrumental in getting his potential pro career on track.
“Going into college, I was a bit of a head case,” Varnell said. “I’d speed it up too fast in my head. He would help me out with the mental part, which is what I needed.”