New Britain, CT- Now that the Rock Cats have completed another season of baseball in New Britain, I felt this would be a good time to reflect back on 2013. The Eastern League had plenty of exciting players for fans to watch this season and some moved through the EL and made their way to the major leagues. Typically, the EL is a tremendous league for prospects and watching some of baseballs brightest future stars come through the Hardware City is always a treat.
We can start with one of the top prospects in minor league baseball, Rock Cats 3B Miguel Sano. Sano came to New Britain with tremendous hype and a film crew from New York doing a documentary on his professional career, which began when he turned 16 years old in the Dominican Republic. Although the Twins would like Sano to hit for a higher average (.236), he was the best pure home run hitter that I have seen suit up for the Rock Cats in my 16 years of calling the action. The right-handed slugger smashed 19 home runs in just 67 games (233 at-bats), finishing second on the club in that category behind Reynaldo Rodriguez who hit 21 homers in 121 games (415 at-bats). Sano will be forever compared to Red Sox star David Ortiz who hit 14 home runs in 69 games with the Rock Cats in 1997. Sano is a terrific kid (just 20 years old) and handles all the pressure of being a "Franchise Player" like its all part of the job. We spent an afternoon over at ESPN in Bristol as he did a couple of interviews and then enjoyed lunch and a private tour of the World Wide Leader in Sports. Twins fans are really going to enjoy him within the next year or so.
From the Rock Cats to the Twins
Three players from this past club have reached the Major Leagues during the same season. RHP Michael Tonkin began the season in the Rock Cats bullpen and after going to Triple-A Rochester made his MLB debut for the Twins, July 11 @ Tampa. LHP Pedro Hernandez was promoted directly to the Minnesota Twins from New Britain on August 30. Hernandez was in the majors at the end of last season and in April and May. Meanwhile, C Josmil Pinto who spent most of this season with the Rock Cats and a brief time at Triple-A was called up to Minnesota on September 1. He had a pair of hits in his MLB debut, September 1 @ Texas and is now batting .526 (10-19) with a home run in his first week in the Major Leagues.
The Rock Cats also had three players on Major League Rehabilitation assignments with the Rock Cats. OF Wilkin Ramirez, RHP Nick Blackburn and RHP Cole De Vries all suited up in the New Britain clubhouse before returning to the Twins. In addition, the Rock Cats had six players with Major League experience on the roster, pitchers Kyle Davies, Aaron Thompson and Virgil Vasquez, outfielders Antoan Richardson and Chris Pettit and infielder Eric Farris. Davies, who won 43 games in the majors over a 7 year period with the Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Royals, joined the Rock Cats on July 23 and finished the season at New Britain. Vasquez, who pitched in the big leagues for the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates, went 3-3 with a 3.14 ERA in 7 starts for the Rock Cats.
From the Eastern League to the Majors in 2013
The Following players played in the Eastern League and made their Major League debuts this season: Ehire Adrianza (Richmond-Giants), Xander Bogaerts (Portland-Red Sox), Drake Britton (Portland-Red Sox), Cesar Cabral (Trenton-Yankees), Zach Clark (Bowie-Orioles), Brandon Cumpton (Altoona-Pirates), Travis d'Arnaud (Binghamton-Mets), Luis Garcia (Reading-Phillies), Kevin Gausman (Bowie-Orioles), Taylor Jordan (Harrisburg-Nationals), Nate Karns (Harrisburg-Nationals), Ian Krol (Harrisburg-Nationals), Andrew Lambo (Altoona-Pirates), C.C. Lee (Akron-Indians), J.R. Murphy (Trenton-Yankees), Sean Nolin (New Hampshire-Blue Jays), Jonathan Pettibone (Reading-Phillies), Kevin Pillar (New Hampshire-Blue Jays), Stolmy Pimentel (Altoona-Pirates), Josmil Pinto (New Britain-Twins), J.C. Ramirez (Reading-Phillies), Jose Ramirez (Akron-Indians), Anthony Rendon (Harrisburg-Nationals), Mauricio Robles (Reading-Phillies), Danny Salazar (Akron-Indians), Tony Sanchez (Altoona-Pirates), Michael Tonkin (New Britain-Twins), Henry Urrutia (Bowie-Orioles), Brandon Workman (Portland-Red Sox).
Rock Cats on the Eastern League Leaders Board
SS Danny Santana led the Eastern League in hits (160) and at-bats (539) and finished 5th in batting average (.297), 3rd in EL with 30 stolen bases and 2nd EL with 10 triples. C Josmil Pinto, now with the Twins, finished second in the Eastern League with a .308 batting average and 3rd in EL with a .411 on-base percentage. 1B Reynaldo Rodriguez led the Eastern League with 58 extra-base hits, finished 3rd in EL with 33 doubles and 5th in EL with .482 slugging percentage. RHP Trevor May led the Eastern League with 159 strikeouts, tied for the EL lead with 27 games started and two shutouts and finished 5th in EL with 151.2 innings pitched.
Santana became the first Rock Cats player to lead the Eastern League in hits since Nationals CF Denard Span did so in 2006 (153). OF Dustin Mohr has the single season franchise record for hits with 174 in 2001. Santana's 160 hits ranks T-5th in franchise history with 3B Jeff Bagwell (1990). Meanwhile, May became the first Rock Cats pitcher to lead the EL in strikeouts since LHP Ryan Mullins in 2009 (133). Boof Bonsor (146 K's in 2004) and Tim Van Egmond (163 K's in 1993) also led the circuit in strikeouts. Jason Bell has the single season franchise strikeout record of 166 in 1998.
Even though the Rock Cats missed out on the playoffs this season it was another memorable season at the ballpark! Thanks for all your support at the games and listening to the broadcasts on the radio and watching on TV!
The Voice of the Rock Cats