Lugnuts Notes: 1996 Position Players

Some short notes, comments, and impressions about the Lugnuts’ players.


To really appreciate the Midwest League, you need to watch the players through two lenses. One thing you want to know is what the player’s capable of achieving. Many people express this question as “Is he a prospect?”, but a better question to ask is “What makes him a prospect?” These guys have professional contracts because the Royals think they’ve got real talents. The second question is “How does this guy contribute to the Lansing Lugnuts?” Our guys are playing for a championship, and some MWL team will win it. This is valuable in its own right. Since only a handful of our Nuts will play in the bigs, this year might be the most important in their career. Not everything which might contribute to this year’s season will matter to a career, but it might make our seats and devotion worthwhile.

Position Players

Except as noted, all stats quoted are thru the end of the season. The original position player notes date from early May, and are italicized.

The Catchers

Matt Treanor (Majors), 3/3/76 (20), 6’0″, 180#, bats & throws right, Anaheim, California

4th round draftee in 1994; played for Springfield last summer
.260 BA, 56 runs, 6 HR, 33 RBI
Matt is an excellent defensive catcher whose hitting needs work. He’s a streaky hitter with some power but too little consistency. His throwing arm is very good; his throwing errors essentially stopped in the second half of the season.

May 4 comments: Matt’s season’s start was extremely strong, and he has slowed down somewhat since. He’s hit really well–carried the team, some games–and appears to play adequate defense. His throws to second are impressive, but not always on target.

Doug Murray, 10/9/74 (21), 6’3″, 215#, bats left, throws right, Orland Park, Illinois

New free agent signee; played for Northwestern University this spring
.143 BA, 2 runs, 0 HR, 4 RBI
Mainly used as the bullpen catcher; occasionally relieved Treanor behind the plate. I presume the Royals intend to give Doug a real shot next season, though I expect it will be at Spokane.

Juan Robles, 3/17/72 (24), 5’9″, 185#, bats & throws right, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico

Farmed to Spokane at mid-season; returned to the Nuts in September.
Played for Spokane and the GCL Royals last summer
.269 BA, 11 runs, 1 HR, 5 RBI
.275 BA, 27 runs, 2 HR, 20 RBI at Spokane
Many observers of the minor leagues divide the players into categories called “Prospect” and “Organization Player.” While I prefer not to categorize players this way, Juan’s the classic organization player.

May 4 comments: It’s fun watching this guy play. He cheers when good things happen, chatters at the pitcher all game long, and generally seems to take charge. Wish there was room on the roster for him to play every day.

The Infielders

Gary Coffee, 3/13/75 (21), 6’3″, 230#, bats & throws right, Atlanta, Georgia

Disabled for the last few weeks of the season
10th round draftee in 1994; played for GCL Royals last summer
.232 BA, 52 Runs, 11 HR, 59 RBI (141 Ks)
First Baseman
They told us Gary was going to be the star of this team; he wasn’t and the fans weren’t very tolerant of him. Gary didn’t have a great season, but he was a valuable part of this club. If you doubt that, remember all the .189 hitters the opposing teams sent to the plate during the year. I don’t like the strikeouts, either. After a disastrous April start, his defense was adequate.

May 4 comments: Gary needs to bring his average up, but his numbers are respectable, and there’s reason to expect them to improve. I don’t particularly like this kind of player–big, slow, pretty swing, lots of strikeouts–but they are valuable. I have two problems with the preseason hype Gary received. One problem is that it raised expectations unreasonably. Another is that it tends to blind the fans both to Coffee’s skills and to the real achievements of the other players on the team. I haven’t been happy with his play at first, but I expect it to improve.

Doug Blosser, 10/1/76 (19), 6’3″, 215#, bats left, throws right, Sarasota, Florida

Reassigned to Spokane; then reassigned again to the GCL Royals.
3rd round draftee in 1995; played for GCL Royals last summer
.205 BA, 14 runs, 5 HR, 18 RBI (injured in early May)
.255 BA, 10 runs, 3 HR, 8 RBI at Spokane
.216 BA, 4 runs, 0 HR, 4 RBI at GCL Royals
Listed as First Baseman; mainly used as Designated Hitter
Doug’s season was a disaster. I hope next year is kinder.

May 4 comments: Doug doesn’t hit the ball often, but when he connects the ball really sails; nearly half of his hits have been for extra bases. Since no one hyped Blosser, we haven’t been disappointed. I want to see him on the field more, but I don’t expect that to happen this year.

Jason Layne, 5/17/73 (23), 6’2″, 215#, bats left, throws right, Tyler, Texas

Signing information unknown; promoted from Spokane
.253 BA, 11 runs, 1 HR, 16 RBI
.286 BA, 24 runs, 5 HR, 27 RBI at Spokane
First Baseman
Jason arrived in Lansing just as Lansing got hot, and held his own. He posted respectable numbers, under the circumstances. Appears to be an excellent defensive first baseman with good power.

Carlos Febles (Majors), 5/24/76 (20), 5’11”, 165#, bats & throws right, La Romana, Dominican Republic

Player of the Month for May
1993 free agent signee; played for GCL Royals last summer
.295 BA, 84 Runs, 5 HR, 43 RBI; 30 steals
Second Baseman
Always a dirty uniform; probably my favorite Lugnut. A chatterbox on defense, he looks a little clumsy but is a very effective defender. This man got on base a couple times every game. Wonder how good he’d be if he was healthy?

May 4 comments: Carlos has been playing hurt, or resting, all season. That run total’s excellent, under the circumstances. Febles appears to be the team’s best baserunner, but we’ll have to see about the nagging injuries.

Emiliano Escandon, 11/6/74 (21), 5’10”, 170#, bats both, throws right, Ontario, California

29th round draftee in 1995; played for Spokane last summer
.272 BA, 50 Runs, 4 HR, 52 RBI
Utility, mostly Second, but Poldberg seems to think of him as a Shortstop
Emiliano was ill in April and recovering in May; from that point on he was very good offensively. On defense, he’s erratic; made some excellent plays and some really silly mistakes.

May 4 comments: Escandon’s got my favorite name on this team; it’s a mouthful but it sounds good. He hasn’t been playing well yet. This man looks good at bat and in the field, but the results haven’t matched appearances. Time will tell. (By the way: I think he’s a second baseman. Not that Poldberg cares.) [May 4]

Jose Cepeda, 8/1/74 (22), 6’0″, 185#, bats & throws right, Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Player of the Year
Player of the Month for April
Played for the GCL Royals last summer
.289 BA, 87 Runs, 3 HR, 81 RBI; 161 hits; started season with 28 game hitting streak
Third Base through July; mainly a Shortstop in August
The most popular of the original Lugnuts, and likely the best player, too. This man had a great season. The comments below still apply….

May 4 comments: Jose was the team’s official player of the month for April; I don’t agree, but it’s easy to make the case for the choice. He’s hit in every game he’s played, he’s got an excellent arm and plays the ball well; in general, he looks like a professional ballplayer and he’s posting statistics to match. The only flaws are a high error rate (cold weather, I hope) and a marked lack of power; 28 of his 35 hits are singles. Jose is Orlando Cepeda’s nephew; his cousin Malcolm (Orlando’s son) is playing in our league at Burlington.

Jose Amado, 2/7/75 (21), 6’1″, 180#, bats & throws right, San Cristobal, VZ

Player of the Month for July
Played for Everett in the Northwest League last summer
.318 BA, 82 Runs, 10 HR, 83 RBI; 31 doubles (Wisconsin stats included)
Settled at Third Base in August; also played First and DH
Good defense; great hitting. One of the Midwest League’s best players, but only a Lugnut for half the season. Jose was acquired by the Royals in what amounted to a major league trade; certainly an excellent trade for our team. Amado’s got a very strange batting stance, which leaves him vulnerable to inside pitching.

Mark Melito, 2/4/72 (24), 6’1″, 175#, bats & throws right, Glen Ridge, New Jersey

Disabled for much of the season
17th round draftee in 1995; played for Spokane last summer
.254 BA, 29 Runs, 1 HR, 18 RBI
Mark demonstrated why I define everyone in the league as a prospect. He arrived in Lansing as a spare part (utility infielder) and developed into one of the league’s best before he got hurt.

May 4 comments: Mark’s the Lugnuts’ best infielder, to date, and he’s hitting well. No one seems to have noticed these things.

Courtney Arrollado, 9/5/74 (21), 6’1″, 190#, bats & throws right, San Diego, California

Played for Butte in the Pioneer League (Rookie) last season
.256 BA, 5 Run, 0 HR, 6 RBI
.213 BA, 2 runs, 0 HR, 2 RBI at Spokane
Utility Infielder
Rarely played; very little to base an opinion on.

Tony Longueira, 9/24/72 (23), 6’0″, 170#, bats & throws right, Pembroke Pines, FL

On the Disabled List at the end of the season
Played for the GCL Royals last summer
.190 BA, 14 Runs, 1 HR, 15 RBI
Utility Infielder
Tony’s a decent infielder; doesn’t hit at all.

Ricardo Montas, 9/24/74 (21), 6’1″, 160#, bats & throws right, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Finished the season with the GCL Royals
Played for the GCL Royals last summer
.292 BA, 1 Run, 0 HR, 0 RBI (24 at bats)
.264 BA, 25 runs, 2 HR, 22 RBI at GCL Royals
Montas appeared in a Lugnut uniform more-or-less in Blosser’s place until Amado was acquired. Looked pretty good out there; I hope he gets a real opportunity next season.

The Outfielders

Carlos Beltran (Majors), 4/24/77 (19), 6’0″, 175#, bats both, throws right, Manati, Puerto Rico

Finished the season in Spokane.
2nd round draftee in 1995; played for the GCL Royals last summer
.143 BA, 3 Runs, 0 HR, 0 RBI
.270 BA, 29 runs, 7 HR, 29 RBI at Spokane
Never returned to the team. I got mixed reviews from Spokane fans about his performance there.

May 4 comments: Carlos was injured in an outfield collision early in the season and is expected back with the team in early June. Although he’s reportedly the best talent on the team, so far he’s been the one player who hasn’t shown us anything. I don’t give up on players from such small samples, though.

Adam Finnieston, 10/11/72 (23), 6’0″, 190#, bats & throws right, Miami, Florida

Retired from baseball
36th round draftee in 1995; played for Spokane last summer
.181 BA, 19 Runs, 2 HR, 13 RBI
Adam had occasional good games, but really wasn’t contributing. Obviously he realized that, and decided to get on with his life. He had his shot; it didn’t work out. He’ll get to tell the grandkids about it.

May 4 comments: Adam’s been playing hurt, when he’s played at all. Appears to bring both power and speed to the team; every time I’ve seen him he’s been exciting.

Pat Hallmark, 12/31/73 (22), 6’0″, 170#, bats & throws right, Houston, Texas

18th round draftee in 1995; played for Spokane last summer
.280 BA, 68 Runs, 1 HR, 53 RBI (33 steals)
The official Lugnut roster listed Pat as a catcher right to the end of the year.
Occasionally spectacular in center field after he got accustomed to playing the position. Although he hit well in Lansing, I suspect he’s more likely a Gary Pettis than a Devon White. He caught a few games.

May 4 comments: Pat’s the team’s best player, so far. He’s among the league leaders in nearly every hitting category. He plays right field better than a catcher ought to. Hallmark was my favorite “Potential Lugnut” in February, and he hasn’t done anything to disappoint me. Wish all my guesses were so good.

Rick Pitts, 3/13/76 (20), 6’1″, 180#, bats & throws right, Seattle, Washington

Finished the season in Spokane.
Played for the GCL Royals last summer
.208 BA, 7 Runs, 0 HR, 2 RBI
.193 BA, 23 runs, 2 HR, 11 RBI (14 steals) at Spokane

May 4 comments: Rick was called up when Beltran was disabled. I’ve only seen him a few times; he appears to be a good outfielder and his stats are passable (barely) when you consider he’d been batting leadoff. Baseball America’s Almanac lists Rick as a switch hitter, but he batted right-handed for Lansing.

Mark Quinn (Majors), 5/21/74 (22), 6’1″, 185#, bats & throws right, San Dimas, California

11th round draftee in 1995; played for Spokane last summer
.302 BA, 63 Runs, 9 HR, 71 RBI
Mark could grow up to be Al Kaline. Dependable, occasionally impressive, and real productive. A great outfield arm and usually a good fielder, though he had some problems with balls down the line into the corner.

May 4 comments: Mark’s been an excellent player so far; good hitting and occasionally spectacular in left field. Quinn and Hallmark were teammates at Rice University last spring; I get lots of mail with Rice addresses, these days. Besides leading the Southwestern Conference in home runs last season, Mark won 6 games on the mound. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Poldberg use him to mop up a lost cause some day this summer.

Juan Rocha, 9/8/73 (22), 6’0″, 165#, bats & throws right, Santa Fe Springs, California

Player of the Month for June
6th round draftee in 1994; played for Springfield last summer
.268 BA, 79 Runs, 14 HR, 83 RBI
Juan had a wonderful season. Another player who developed beyond his intended/expected role.

May 4 comments: That’s a real nice stat line, though few seem to have noticed it. He’s not real pretty in the outfield, but seems to get the job done.

Tony Miranda, 5/23/73 (23), 5’10”, 185#, bats & throws right, Lynwood, California

Played for Spokane last summer
.287 BA, 28 Runs, 2 HR, 23 RBI
.170 BA, 11 runs, 2 HR, 8 RBI at Spokane
Tony played regularly, either in the outfield or at DH, after his callup. It was fun.

Brett Schafer, 7/3/73 (23), 5’11”, 175#, bats & throws right, Malibu, California

On the Disabled List most of the season
32nd round draftee in 1995; played for Spokane last summer
.255 BA, 5 Runs, 0 HR, 3 RBI
We got to see Brett for a few days in June, then he got hurt again. There’s a lot of raw ability in the package.

May 4 comments: Brett’s been injured, and I’ve yet to see him play.

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1 Response to Lugnuts Notes: 1996 Position Players

  1. joel says:

    Aha! Finally some substance. I don’t see much here that needs explaining, so I’ll keep the comments short.

    A version of this page–basically, the comments labelled “May 4”–was originally part of the May 4th Clinton writeup. On September 17 I extracted that portion of the page, made it a separate page, and added through-the-end-of-the-summer comments. That’s essentially what we have here.

    I’ve given this list some slight reformatting today, and added links to the minor league career stats for each player (and to the major league stats for Beltran, Febles, Quinn, and Treanor).

    I likely had a reason for the sequence of players, here, but at this point it looks pretty arbitrary.

    Some of my opinions have changed in the intervening 17 years, of course. I’ll mention some of those changes elsewhere, as seems appropriate.

    These commentaries show that I watched baseball differently in 1996 than I do now–I paid more attention to details and watched for patterns more consistently than I do these days. Of course, I go to far fewer baseball games now. And nowadays I always carry a camera, and take photographs.

    Pitcher notes will come in early June.

    In the event you’ve just stumbled onto this entry, here’s an explanation of what I’m up to.

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