June 17: Off Day
June 18 and 19
- East, 10-4
- Originally scheduled for the eighteenth; postponed, rain.
- Our guys did good:
- Quinn 3 ab, 1 run, 2 hits (a double), 1 rbi
- Cepeda 4 ab, 1 run, 1 hit (a double), 0 rbi (played whole game)
- Rocha 2 ab, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 rbi
- Thorn pitched a scoreless inning
- Melito was still hurting
- Mull watched; pitched the next day
- South Bend’s Jeff Liefer was the game’s MVP (2-2-2-3; one double)
- I can’t find any information on the home-run contest, except that it was held
I thought it might be instructive to look at the Lugnuts the way I look at the opposition. I do this mainly by studying the current stat sheets, with some looks to other places; if I happen to know something about a specific player, that generally shows up as well.
The Lugnuts are affiliated with the Kansas City Royals and are owned by a small, Chicago-based partnership. Last year this franchise played in Springfield, Illinois and was known as the Sultans of Springfield, where they drew less than 600 fans per game. At Lansing their attendance has improved; their average attendance is nearly 7,000 fans daily.
The Lugnuts are managed by Brian Poldberg and coached by Curtis Wilkerson and Mike Mason (pitching).
All-Stars: Blaine Mull (P), Todd Thorn (P), Jose Cepeda (3B), Mark Melito (SS), Mark Quinn (OF), Juan Rocha (OF).
Statistics quoted are through Sunday, June 16.
The Lugnuts finished last in the Eastern Division for the first half-season with a 29-40 (.420) record, 9.5 games behind West Michigan and two games out of fourth place. The team has generally good hitting and a generally poor pitching staff.
Besides the Sultans, the Royals fielded low-minors teams in Spokane and the Gulf Coast League last summer. The Spokane Indians finished 6th of 8 teams in the Short-Season A Northwest League in 1995, with a 36-39 (.480) record; the Rookie GCL Royals topped their 16-team league at 47-12 (.797!). The Lugnuts’ current roster draws from all of those teams, with one player down from Wilmington in the Carolina League.
This team is a generally good-hitting team with no real stars. They score lots of runs–they’re second in the league in runs scored–and steal lots of bases. Outfielder Mark Quinn (.333-4-35) is near the top of the league’s batting race, but doesn’t lead the team in any other categories. Third Baseman Jose Cepeda (.282-0-36) is having a good season but shows little power. Outfielder Juan Rocha (.286-11-43) is a power threat. Second baseman Carlos Febles (.281-2-17; 4 triples, 18 steals) has excellent speed, as does outfielder Pat Hallmark (.267-4-31, 4 triples, 12 steals). Power threats include DH Doug Blosser (.205-5-18), first baseman Gary Coffee (.228-6-35), and catcher Matt Treanor (.239-5-23). Virtually everyone is a threat to steal, to score runs, to knock in runs.
This team’s pitching has a few bright spots but is pretty bad. Except for starters Blaine Mull (6-5, 2.60, 56 Ks), Michael Robbins (4-4, 3.63, 45), and Todd Thorn (6-3, 3.25, 58), no pitcher appears reliable. Reliever Jose Santiago has some decent but hardly breathtaking numbers, while reliever Scott Key has a decent strikeout rate in a relatively few innings pitched. New starter Kevin Hodges (with High-A Wilmington last year) looks decent after three starts, but has no decisions. Beyond these pitchers, this team is weak.
Emiliano Escandon has relatives in Spokane; they are sending me notes about the (former) Lugnuts who’ve been reassigned to their team and the newly-signed players. I’ll pass along what they say. The word, so far, is that Beltran is playing well and Villarreal is working on his confidence. More to come….
I’m still behind, and catching up. I fully intended to post this last week, but things didn’t work out….
That’s an extremely Lugnut-centered report on the All-Star Game. These days I hate that sort of game report, but I was younger in 1996. And I probably knew my audience.
Since the game was postponed by the weather, the Midwest League press corps unexpectedly found itself stranded in northern Wisconsin. The State Journal‘s Joanne Gerstner wrote a perhaps-humorous piece about having nothing to do in Appleton and Green Bay, which the locals apparently didn’t take well.
I’ve mentioned once or twice that I’d been composing and posting team writeups for the Lugnuts’ opponents all season; by the All-Star break Lansing had played all thirteen teams so this report was the fourteenth “scouting report” my readers saw. For you, though, this is the first, so the impact’s probably different.
Those of you who followed me on the Fan’s Guide will recognize the format and tone; these were a feature of that website and I wrote them for over a decade. (Here’s my favorite team.) The details changed a bit over the years, but I had the prototype down right from the start.
It’s not clear why I mentioned Doug Blosser, here, since he’d already been sent down. It likely made sense to me at the time.
You’ll see these for the other Midwest League teams over the second half of the season. In fact you’ll see the next installment tomorrow. (And the pace of these reposts is going to increase.)
In the event you’ve just stumbled onto this entry, here’s an explanation of what I’m up to. With an index!