For the past few weeks, Top Five Tuesday has been looking at the best games of Timber Rattlers players who are going to be bobbleheads for the 2014 season.
Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo signed a nice contract with the Texas Rangers during the offseason and is part of the 2014 Timber Rattlers Bobblehead Series. The date of the Choo Bobblehead is Thursday, August 28.
Choo was a big prospect (Rated as #7 in the organization by Baseball America) for the Seattle Mariners out of Korea when he joined the Rattlers at the end of the 2001 season. He played in the final three regular season games of 2001 and went 6-for-13. Choo also appeared in all four playoff games of the 2001 season and was 3-for-15 in the post-season. There were some pretty good games in 2001, but none made the Top Five.
This Top Five list deals with the 2002 season and the 119 games Choo played as a Timber Rattler before he was promoted after a game on August 21.
Choo hit .302/.417/.440 with six homers and 48 RBI. He also stole 34 bases (out of 54 attempts) and was hit by a pitch 13 times. Choo was a Midwest League Post-Season All-Star and bumped up to Baseball America's #4 Prospect in the Mariners organization after the 2002 season.
5.) June 2 vs. South Bend Silver Hawks: 2-for-3, RBI, Two walks, Three Stolen Bases
Choo was on base four times in this game. He singled with one out in the bottom of the first inning stole second to get into scoring position. The Rattlers needed it, since South Bend scored twice in the top of the first. But, Choo was stranded in the first. He grounded out to short in the third with two outs and none on base. In the fifth, Choo walked with one out and none on and the Rattlers up 3-2. He stole second, but was left stranded. In the seventh with runners on first and second and the score tied 3-3, Choo singled to drive in the go ahead run and move the other runner to third. Then, he stole second for his third steal of the game. But, he was stranded when the inning ended. In the ninth, the Rattlers were down 7-5 with a runner at second and no outs. The Silver Hawks elected to walk Choo with first base open. Choo was bunted over to second as the tying run, but a walk to load the bases and a 4-6-3 double play ended the threat.
4 .) August 17 vs. Clinton LumberKings: 3-for-4, Triple, Run, RBI, Stolen Base
The Rattlers were already up 2-0 in the bottom of the first when Choo came to the plate as the third batter of the inning. He walked, stole second, and scored on a single and Wisconsin was up 3-0. In the second, Choo came up with a runner at first and the Rattlers lead pushed out to 5-0. Choo tripled to drive that runner home. He grounded out to first in the fifth and singled in both the seventh and eighth innings for a three-hit game.
This game was notable for what happened before the game. Phil Cullen was the scheduled starter for the Timber Rattlers. Cullen was warming up in the bullpen moments before the game was supposed to start and something snapped in his right arm. It was broken. The game was delayed until 7:20 so that John Corcoran, a reliever, could get loose. Corcoran allowed one hit over five shutout innings and picked up the win.
3.) July 30 vs. Quad Cities River Bandits: 2-for-3, Double, Home Run, Three RBI
Choo was #2 in the order and doubled with one out and none on in the bottom of the first. He was left stranded. In the second inning, the score was tied 1-1 and there are two on with two out. Choo launches a three-run home run off Erik Lohse and the Rattlers were up 4-1. Choo would bat one more time in the game, a leadoff grounder to second in the fourth inning.
This game had the potential to be a lot higher on the list, but it only lasted 5-1/2 innings due to rain. Had the Timber Rattlers batted in the bottom of the sixth inning, Choo would have been due up second and he could have had at least one more at bat after that. Weather is terrible.
2.) June 20 at Kane County Cougars: 4-for-5, Two Doubles, Two RBI, Two Runs
Choo finished the first half of the 2002 season batting .306 with four homers and 31 RBI. This game at Kane County was the first game of the second half and Choo started out fast with a single in the first inning. In the third inning, Choo singled with a runner on first and the Rattlers down 2-0. Choo singled to put two runners on base. This set the stage for a seven run inning for Wisconsin. Choo capped the inning by doubling in his second AB of the third to drive in the final run of the frame. Choo grounded out in the sixth. The Timber Ratkers were down 10-7 by the time Choo's fifth at bat of the game rolled around in the top of the eighth. He stepped in with a runner at first and two outs. Choo doubled to knock in the run, but the Rattlers lost by the 10-8 score.
1.) April 10 at Burlington Bees: 3-for-6, Home Run, Five RBI, Four Runs
Unfortunately, this game was not in my scorebook. This game was played at Burlington when I was still the announcer for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League. The Gamblers were in the playoffs at the time and I didn't arrive in Burlington until April 12. Fortunately, Randy Wehofer was there. Randy, who is one of the announcers for the Iowa Cubs now, was the radio announcer of the Burlington Bees at the time and was able to get the details of the game for me from his immaculately kept scorebook.
Choo's first at bat was in the first inning and this one came with a runner in scoring position with one out. Choo singled to knock in the run and he would eventually score in the inning. In the second inning, Choo beat out a potential inning-ending double play to keep the frame alive. He stole second and scored on a single by Greg Dobbs. In the fourth and fifth innings, Choo was retired on a flyout to left and a grounder to second. He got another at bat in the seventh inning and drove in a run with a single. He came home with his third run of the game later in the inning. Choo's final at bat of the night came in the eighth inning. There were two one and none out with a run already across home plate. Choo crushed a home run, his first as a Timber Rattler, for a three-run shot to put an exclamation point on his day and a cherry on top of Wisconsin's 17-3 win over the Bees.