Lugnuts Notes: The Burlington Bees

Four home games against Burlington. The Famous Chicken will entertain us on Saturday night, while Tuesday’s game will have fireworks and be televised on WLNS (Lansing Channel 6).

The Bees are affiliated with the San Francisco Giants and owned by local residents.

Chuq Von Rospach, a Giants fan who also oversees the Internet’s Minor League Maillist, maintains a Bees webpage [gone, of course]. The National Association’s page [broken] is about like its other pages.

Sort of related: A 1994 photo essay by Jeff Schrier of the Saginaw News about Bees pitcher (and former Central Michigan University student) Aaron Knieper [link, sadly, gone] won a prize from the Michigan Press Photographers Association.

The Bees are managed by Glenn Tufts with coaches Keith Comstock and Juan Lopez.

The Ballpark

While I haven’t seen Community Field, it’s reputed to be an extremely cozy, 4,000 seat ballpark with the seats close to the action. The center field fence is extremely short at 370 feet. The wooden grandstand dates from 1970, and is downtown.

The Team

All-Stars: Don Denbow (OF), Santos Hernandez (P).

Statistics quoted include games through Thursday, June 27.

The Bees played at a .500 clip for the first half, winning and losing 34 games en route to a second-place finish in the Western Division of the league; the Bandits beat them by three games. They have fairly good pitching; they have fairly poor hitting.

The Giants get by with only two squads in the low minors; Burlington here in the MWL, and Bellingham in the Short-Season A Northwest League. Last year’s Bees were 54-81 (.400), which was not quite the worst in the league. The Bellingham team, at 43-33 (.566), finished second in their league. This year’s Bees are drawn from both teams, approximately equally.

Burlington has one excellent hitter this summer: Outfielder Don Denbow is hitting .293 with 16 homers, 53 runs scored, and 49 runs batted in. He runs well (13 steals, 2 triples) and hits for power; this is a dangerous hitter. First baseman Mark Gulseth is having a good season; outfielder Alex Morales has an interesting stat line with some excellent numbers and some awful ones. Third baseman Michael Sorrow is a real threat to steal; so are Denbow, Morales, and outfielder Bruce Thompson.

This team also has one excellent pitcher: Lorenzo Barcelo has 7 wins, a 2.13 ERA, and a good strikeout ratio. The pitching staff has a couple weak spots but is generally very solid; runs will be earned. Closer Santos Hernandez has 19 saves, to lead the league. Jim Stoops, also used in late relief, appears to have a wicked strikeout pitch and excellent control.