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Highlighting the 2011 Spinners Season
09/21/2011 11:39 AM ET

LOWELL, MASS. - With one pitch the Lowell Spinners 2011 season went from boom to bust when Auburn Doubledays starting pitcher Manny Rodriguez's fastball tailed in on the hands of Spinner third baseman Garin Cecchini, breaking the top prospect's wrist and sending the team's promising season spiraling downward.

Coming off a 2010 season that saw the Spinners post a franchise-worst 24-50 record, the Spinners' appeared poised for a comeback season behind first year manager Carlos Febles, and a new coaching staff featuring major league veterans Paul Abbott (pitching coach) and Rich Gedman (hitting coach). Following the July 23 game the Spinners record stood at 18-18, one game behind division leading Vermont and winners of six of their last seven games. Things however, were about to take a turn for the worse.

Cecchini, a 2010 4th round selection who received a $1.31 million signing bonus, was the team's hottest hitter. After struggling out the gate in his professional debut, Cecchini was riding a nine game hitting streak during a week that would earn him New York-Penn League Player of the Week honors. He was batting .298 with a league leading 12 doubles, ranking fourth in the league in stolen bases (12) and tied for fifth in RBI (23) through 32 games, but the injury would be season ending.

In the days that followed second baseman Jason Thompson, himself coming off a nine game hitting streak, infielder Nick Natoli and third baseman Travis Shaw would all suffer injuries requiring lengthy absences. Without three of their starting infielders, the Spinners would go on to lose 15 of their next 20 games, dropping them into last place in the Stedler Division entering the All-Star break.

There was no break however for the Spinners front office as the team hosted the New York-Penn League All-Star Game for the first time. The game, presented by Lowell General Hospital, was a hit as a sell-out crowd of 5,030 filled LeLacheur Park for the day's festivities. The home team had four players selected to represent the squad, but just two would play. Outfielder Keury De La Cruz would start in right field, going 1-for-2, before being replaced by teammate Seth Schwindenhammer later in the game. Schwindenhammer, who earlier in the day won the Skills Competition for his American League squad on a last swing home run, went 0-for-1 in his lone at-bat. Outfielder Matty Johnson was selected but unable to play after being promoted to Greenville, while Cecchini was unable to play due to injury.  

The Spinners would lose 8-of-11 to close out the season but not before knocking the Connecticut Tigers out of the playoffs with a 15-inning victory on the last day of the season. The win snapped a six-game losing streak and was earned by utility infielder Roberto Ramos, who pitched the game's final two innings for the Spinners to pick up the win.

From a promotional standpoint, the Spinners made national news with the first ever "Human Home Run," between games of a July 5 double header with the Connecticut Tigers. Between games the Spinners rolled out of a giant cannon onto the outfield, where 69-year-old David Smith, Sr., the world record holder for longest flight by a human cannon ball, was shot over the right-field fence. The event was covered by everyone from local news, including FOX25 Boston and Comcast SportsNet New England, to coverage throughout the day from ESPN, including discussion points on SportsCenter and Pardon the Interruption. Further the promotion made front page news on Yahoo.com and was a closing feature on The Today Show.

Furthermore, the team drew media attention on a national level for "Dental Flossing World Record Attempt" night, with the entire ballpark flossing simultaneously, to "Cowboy Monkey Rodeo" night, featuring monkeys riding the backs of boarder collies.

A number of celebrities visited LeLacheur Park during the 2011 season, including Stanley Cup Champion Milan Lucic, Red Sox 2004 World Series Champion Kevin Millar, NBA Hall of Famer Tom "Satch" Sanders, Red Sox legend Bernie Carbo, the 1984 Olympic Torch, Sen. Scott Brown, Lowell Police Sergeant turned Hollywood actor Mickey O'Keefe, The Fighter Mickey Ward, marathon man Bill Rodgers, MCA Nashville Recording Artist Kip Moore and Saved by the Bell principal Mr. Belding, Dennis Haskins.

In addition to the Spinners regular season schedule, the team hosted both the 2011 New York-Penn League All-Star Game, presented by Lowell General Hospital, where the National League All-Stars emerged victorious over their American League counterparts, 7-3, and the Milan Lucic Rock and Jock Softball Classic, which featured Lucic and several of his teammates from the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, including Shawn Thornton, Patrice Bergeron, Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask, Dennis Seidenberg and Daniel Paille, as well as actor Lenny Clarke and the Dropkick Murphy's Ken Casey.

 

While the Spinners suffered through another losing season, in addition to the strong professional debut for Cecchini, there were a number of other personal and team highlights throughout the 2011 season.

 

Team Notes

  • The Spinners led the New York-Penn League and set a franchise record with 55 home runs, breaking the previous record of 44, set in 1999.
  • Showing the Spinners more often than not won big or not at all, the bullpen recorded just seven saves, two by piggy-back starters pitching multi-inning stints. The previous low for saves was 10, set in 1999, while the 2011 Spinners' had just 11 save opportunities.
  • Spinners' pitchers struggled with control throughout the season, surviving through the season's first 36 games by allowing the fewest hits in the league, but running into trouble when balls started to drop in. The team set a franchise record for most walks allowed, walking 326 batters to lead the league, breaking the previous high of 292, set in 1998.
  • The double-play ball was a friend to Spinners' pitching, no more so than August 29 at Tri-City, when the Spinners induced a team record five double plays in a 10-inning, 5-4 win.

 

Individual Notes (alphabetical by player)

  • RHP Raul Alcantara earned a late promotion to Lowell after dominating the Gulf Coast League...After allowing seven runs in 2.1 innings in his Lowell debut, Alcantara settled in nicely allowing just two earned runs in his next two starts (9.1 innings pitched)...Alcantara would strike out a season-high six Tri-City ValleyCats in just 4.1 innings, Aug. 29.
  • RHP Luis Bastardo was dominant out of the bullpen, starting the season with 12.2 scoreless outings in his first five appearances...Bastardo led the Spinners and ranked sixth in the league (second amongst relievers) with 64 strikeouts in 44.1 innings pitched, twice striking out eight batters (6/20 vs. Tri-City, 8/31 vs. Brooklyn).
  • Making his third go-around with the Spinners, C Carson Blair started the season behind the plate for the Spinners, rehabbing a thumb injury suffered with Greenville, re-joining the Drive June 22.
  • After signing just prior to the Aug. 15 deadline, Red Sox supplemental first round draft pick OF Jackie Bradley Jr. made his professional debut with the Spinners Aug. 23 at Staten Island...Bradley would play in six games with the Spinners, recording back-to-back two-hit games Aug. 26 and Aug. 29 before earning a late season promotion to Greenville.
  • LHP Kevin Brahney made his professional debut with the Spinners...He struck out a season-high five batters in 2.1 innings July 25 vs. Auburn...Recorded three consecutive scoreless appearances 7/13-7/22.
  • Making his professional debut 3B Garin Cecchini, the left-handed hitter was particularly strong against southpaws, batting .367 (11-for-30) with a home run and 11 RBI...Posted a slash line of .298/.398/.500/.898, batting .342 (27-for-79) in 22 July games after batting .200 (7-for-35) in 10 June contests...Named NYPL Player of the Week for week ending July 24.
  • LHP Hunter Cervenka struggled in his second season in Lowell but shined in back-to-back August outings, earning his only two wins of the season...After picking up his first win at Jamestown (8/14), Cervenka pitched five innings of one-hit baseball Aug. 20 against Staten Island, picking up the win while striking out a season-high nine batters...Control was a major concern for the left-hander, evidenced by the numbers where he allowed just four runs in 15 innings in three appearances where he walked one batter or fewer.
  • A 2006 Lowell Spinner, DH Zach Daeges finally escaped rehab in Fort Myers, joining the Spinners for Opening Day...Daeges would appear in two of the Spinners first three games before suffering a wrist injury that would eventually require surgery...Daeges was released just prior to undergoing the surgery, 8/5.
  • A starting outfielder in the NYPL All-Star Game, OF Keury De La Cruz spent the large majority of the season as the Spinners' lead-off hitter...De La Cruz led the NYPL in at-bats, twice stringing together seven game hitting streaks (6/28 - 7/5 and 7/6 - 7/13), recording hits in 14-of-15 games to raise his average from .205 to .266...Stole 12 bases in the Spinners first 20 games but swiped just five bags in the last 51.
  • SS Ryan Dent made a one-game cameo with the Spinners while rehabbing an injury from Double-A Portland...Dent, a 2007/2008 Spinner, went 1-for-5 with a double, two RBI and two strikeouts against Williamsport, 7/13.
  • After allowing seven earned runs in his first start with the Spinners, 6/20 at Vermont, RHP Luis Diaz adjusted to the New York-Penn League and was one of the league's best starters the remainder of the season...Removing his first outing, Diaz posted a 1.77 ERA (14 ER/71.1 IP) in his first season in the United States, skipping from the Dominican Summer League to Lowell...Diaz's 2.53 ERA ranked sixth in the NYPL...Diaz held opposing batters to a league-best .208 batting average, ranking second in the NYPL with a 0.96 WHIP, walking just 15 in 74.2 innings.
  • One summer after making his Major League Debut, 2006/2007 Spinner LHP Felix Doubront returned to Lowell for a rehab assignment...Doubront started for the Spinners Aug. 6 against Connecticut, retiring all six Tigers he faced, striking out four, before rejoining Pawtucket and earning an eventual promotion to Boston.
  • OF J.D. Drew joined the Spinners August 26 for what was scheduled to be a two-game rehab stint...Drew went 0-for-2 with a walk, hit-by-pitch and strikeout, scoring a run while serving as the team's Designated Hitter...Drew's rehab was cut short however, as Hurricane Irene arrived early wiping out the Spinners' game the following day.
  • C Leonel Escobar joined the club June 22 when Carson Blair returned to Greenville, appearing in 10 games with the Spinners...Escobar hit safely in three of his first four games with the team before earning a mid-season promotion to Hi-A Salem August 3, where he would finish the season.
  • One of the youngest starting pitchers in the NYPL, RHP Jason Garcia started the season strong, allowing three earned runs or fewer in his first six starts, posting a 3-0 record and a 1.86 ERA...Didn't allow an earned run in his first nine innings pitched....Struck out a season-high seven in a no-decision against Williamsport July 14.
  • Playing in his third season with the Spinners, 2B Joantoni Garcia found himself amongst the franchise record holders in a number of statistical categories following the season...Garcia set new records for games played (170) and at-bats (527), breaking those marks set by 2009 teammate, Ronald Bermudez...Garcia's 98 hits rank second all-time, behind Bermudez's 108 and with six doubles in 2011, Garica's 29 also rank second to Mario Campos...Garcia's three home runs were a career best, equaling his total from his first three season's in pro ball.
  • A New York-Penn League All-Star in 2010, SS Jose Garcia found himself back in Lowell in 2011 after the emergence of Xander Bogaerts in Greenville...After missing nearly two weeks with a finger laceration, Garcia played well down the stretch, hitting four of his six home runs following his return...Was 8-for-19 during a five-game hitting streak, 8/10 - 8/14...Stole four bases Aug. 24 at Staten Island, leading the Spinners overall with 22 stolen bases.
  • Promoted to Lowell July 30, INF Matt Gedman had the opportunity to play under the tutelage of his father, Spinners' hitting coach Rich Gedman... Played first 12 games in Lowell at third base, served as team's designated hitter for one game and played final10 games at second base.
  • C Jayson Hernandez served as the Spinners' primary catcher before a late season promotion to Greenville...Had hitting streaks of seven (7/2 - 7/14) and eight games (7/19 - 7/31) during month of July where he hit .317 for the month (19-for-60) with three doubles, a triple and 9 RBI...Was strong behind the plate, catching 38% of would be base stealers (18-for-47).
  • A member of the 2008 Lowell Spinners, LHP Mitch Herold made a one-game rehab appearance with the team in Mahoning Valley, July 28...Herold pitched one inning, retiring all three batters he faced without striking out a batter.
  • RHP Joe Holtmeyer threw two scoreless, hitless innings in his professional debut, July 3 at Connecticut...Was placed on the disabled list after the outing, returning July 31 at State College...Struck out a season-high five batter over 2.2 hitless innings Aug. 11 at Hudson Valley...Allowed three home runs in 1.1 innings Aug. 21 vs. Staten Island, landing on the disabled list the following day and missing the remainder of the season.
  • At 6-feet-9-inches tall, Dutchman Swen Huijer became the tallest player to ever don a Lowell Spinners uniform, and the right-handed pitcher made sure that wasn't his only mark of note with a strong 2011 season out of the bullpen...Allowed just one earned run over 11.1 June innings, striking out seven while allowing just six hits...Allowed just two hits over seven innings in consecutive outings, Aug. 9 and Aug. 19, striking out eight while lowering his ERA from 2.45 to 1.93...Threw two scoreless innings in extra-innings in season's final game, Sept. 4 at Connecticut.
  • RHP Chris Huseby struck out a season-high five batters in two innings of relief June 28 against Vermont...Struggled with control in final outing of season July 9 against Hudson Valley, walking the first batter he faced on four pitches and hitting the next batter before being removed from the game...He was placed on the Disabled List after the outing and released by the Red Sox Aug. 5 without appearing in another game.
  • C Adalberto Ibarra joined the Spinners on rehab Aug. 9, being added to their active roster after the All-Star Break...The Cuban import showed an advanced eye at the plate, with a 9:13 SO:BB ratio...Walked in all four plate appearances Aug. 21 vs. Staten Island...Struggled behind the plate, as opposing NYPL base runners were a perfect 17-for-17 in stolen base attempts.
  • Traveling frequently between Lowell and Greenville, OF Matty Johnson left enough of an impression to be named to New York-Penn League All-Star team, despite his promotion to Greenville...Batted a scorching .480 in eight June game (12-for-25) with two doubles, a triple, six RBI and five stolen bases...Had seven-game hitting streak 7/25 - 8/1...Went 10-for-19 during five-game hitting streak, 6/30 - 7/15, sandwiched around a promotion to Greenville...Promoted to Greenville for good, Aug. 9.
  • RHP Andrew Jones was also a frequent member of the Lowell-to-Greenville shuttle, making nine appearances for the Spinners, allowing just one run on eight hits over 10.1 innings pitched...Jones did not walk a batter with the Spinners, not allowing a hit in his first three Lowell appearances...Promoted to Greenville for good, Aug. 9.
  • In an injury plagued season, OF Ryan Kalish looked healthy with the Spinners during a brief two-game rehab assignment Aug. 4-6...Kalish went 3-for-6 over the two games, adding two RBI and two runs scored before re-joining Pawtucket (AAA).
  • A two-way player at the University of Kentucky, RHP Braden Kapteyn made the transition to the mound in his first professional season with the Spinners... Command was an issue from the start for Kapteyn, who did not record an out in his professional debut, allowing five run on two hits, two walks, a wild-pitch on a strikeout and six wild pitches...Struck out a season-high five batters over two hitless innings of relief July 29 at Mahoning Valley...Followed up with two hitless innings vs. Aberdeen Aug. 3...Struck out 22 over 14 innings pitched.
  • Rehabbing a broken wrist suffered while with the Greenville Drive, OF Lucas LeBlanc got into one game with the Spinners, starting Sept. 3 at Connecticut... LeBlanc struck out in all three plate appearances before being replaced by a defensive replacement.
  • RHP Mike Lee was the Spinners Opening Day starter, rehabbing from Double-A Portland...A 2008 Lowell Spinner, Lee allowed two runs on two hits and three walks, striking out two over 2.2 innings...Lee was strong in his second and final appearance at Tri-City, striking out six while allowing just an unearned run on three hits over five innings before returning to Portland.
  • A 41st round selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, OF Matt Marquis jumped right into the Spinners line-up after joining the team Aug. 6, reaching base by hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in each of his first 13 games with the team...Had seven-game hitting streak Aug.12-20 during which he batted .541 (13-for-24) with two home runs with 10 RBI.
  • A starter throughout his college career, RHP Mike McCarthy quickly embraced the Spinners' closer role, notching saves in each of his first three save appearances June 27 - July 1...Struck out the side in his professional debut June 20 at Vermont...Closed season with three consecutive scoreless outings, including 3.1 scoreless Sept. 2 at Connecticut.
  • 3B Will Middlebrooks struggled as he adjusted to pro baseball with the Spinners in 2008, but had no such issues as he rehabbed with the Spinners in June...Serving as the Spinners' designated hitter 6/26 - 6/29, Middlebrooks homered in each of his first three games, driving in two in each game, while adding a double in his final game before rejoining Portland (AA).
  • 1B Boss Moanaroa was on course for an All-Star selection after a strong first half, twice putting together six-game hitting streaks (7/7 - 7/13, 7/16 - 7/21), before struggling after the Garin Cecchini injury...Had four straight two-hit games, July 16 - July 19, going 8-for-14 during stretch...Hit just .118 (4-for-34) after the All-Star Break...Hit four of five home runs at LeLacheur Park, but batted .271 (26-for-96) on the road as opposed to .215 (23-for-107) at home.
  • Moko Moanaroa found regular playing time as the season went on, splitting time between left field and first base, where he filled in for younger brother, Boss, on a number of occasions...Moko appeared in just two games in June before seeing time in 11 July games, 14 August games and four of the Spinners' five September games...Hit .311 in August (14-for-45) with three doubles, two home runs and 9 RBI...Was 2-for-2 as a pinch-hitter with two doubles and three RBI...Hit .500 (7-for-14) in four games against Staten Island Yankees, including two home runs and five RBI.
  • Signed as a non-drafted free-agent out of Towson, INF Nick Natoli was with the Spinners for pre-season mini-camp before starting the season with the GCL Red Sox...Natoli returned July 5 and assumed starting shortstop position after injury to Jose Garcia...Went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI at Vermont July 22...Was injured diving for ground ball up the middle July 27 at Mahoning Valley, being placed on the Disabled List, July 31, where he ended the season.
  • Utilized as a piggy-back starter, RHP Nefi Ogando posted a 2.83 ERA, third best amongst Spinners' pitchers...Allowed 1 ER or less in 10-of-15 appearances... Picked up the win with three innings of one-hit relief June 29 vs. Tri-City, striking out two.
  • RHP Matty Ott started his Lowell career with 6.2 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits over three appearances, picking up two wins...Struck out a season-best five batters over two scoreless innings July 13 vs. Williamsport to earn the win...Finished the season with four scoreless innings over final two appearances, allowing just two hits (8/29-9/2).
  • A sixth-round selection in 2011, LHP Mickey Pena started the season in the Spinners' bullpen, but thrived in two starts after moving into the rotation...Allowed just one hit while striking out five in 4.0 innings 7/15 vs. Williamsport and followed up with six strikeouts in 3.1 innings vs. Vermont, 7/20...Suffered a broken jaw and was sent to GCL Red Sox, July 25, where he finished the season on the Disabled List.
  • C Oscar Perez joined the team when C Jayson Hernandez was promoted to Greenville...Went 1-for-4 with Spinners' lone RBI in 8/31 game vs. Brooklyn.
  • UT Roberto Ramos made the most of his limited playing time, playing mostly at second base, while also serving as a pinch-runner and an emergency pitcher...Went 1-for-4 with two runs scored and two stolen bases July 22 at Vermont...Picked up the win with two hitless innings of relief in 16-inning win at Connecticut, 9/4, striking out one.
  • Signed as a non-drafted free-agent, C Tim Roberson also made the most of his playing time, batting .299 in 22 games, split behind the plate and as the designated hitter...Had five-game hitting streak, 7/30-8/14, batting .474 (9-for-19) with two home runs and four RBI.
  • IF Nick Robinson rejoined the Spinners Aug. 5 after starting the season with the GCL Red Sox...After playing primarily at second base with the Spinners in 2010, Robinson saw time at both first and third base in 2011...Went 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and three runs scored in win over Batavia, Aug. 19.
  • Portland Sea Dogs 1B Reynoldo Rodriguez joined the Spinners 8/11 - 8/14 on rehab assignment, batting .333 with a home run and two RBI...Recorded hits in each of the four games played with the Spinners.
  • OF Seth Schwindenhammer was a 2011 New York-Penn League All-Star, leading the Spinners and setting a new franchise record for home runs by a left-handed hitter with 9 home runs...Also set franchise mark with 106 strikeouts, striking out in 47.1% of his at-bats...Went 3-for-5 with two runs scored, two home runs and five RBI at Brooklyn, 7/18...Won the 2011 "Minors Moniker Madness" championship on MiLB.com...Won the 2011 NYPL All-Star Skills Competition for the American League team on a last swing home run.
  • RHP Robby Scott joined the Spinners for the last month of the season, earning a decision in both appearances...Picked up the win in his Spinners' debut with 2.2 hitless innings, striking out two on his 22nd birthday, 8/29... Was the losing pitcher at Connecticut, 9/2, allowing one run on two hits, striking out three in three innings pitched.
  • INF Travis Shaw split time between first and third base, after playing exclusively at third base in college...Had an eight-game hitting streak from 6/20 to 6/30, after going hitless in his first two professional games...Set a Spinners' record for total bases in a single game at Connecticut, 7/2, going 4-for-4 with two walks, three doubles, a home run, three runs scored and 5 RBI...Suffered a shoulder injury at Mahoning Valley, 7/29, missing the next two weeks...Ranked second on the team with eight home runs and led the team in RBI with 36...Stole three bases after not recording a stolen base in collegiate career at Kent State...Named NYPL Player of the Week for week ending July 3.
  • 2B Jason Thompson joined the Spinners after starting the season with Low-A Greenville...Thompson suffered through an injury plagued season, finishing the season on the disabled list...Thompson was finding his stride, in the midst of a 9-game hitting-streak (7/10 - 7/20), but strained an oblique at Vermont, 7/22, an injury he re-aggravated in his first game back at Mahoning Valley, 7/27, missing nearly a month with the injuries.
  • OF Drew Turocy made his professional debut with the Spinners in 2011...Went 5-for-6 with an RBI and three runs scored at Connecticut, 7/2...Turocy faired well on the road, batting .281 with 9 RBI in 28 games away from LeLacheur, as opposed to a .152 average at home...Missed two weeks with a leg contusion, earning a trip to the disabled list in mid-August.
  • Skipping over the Gulf Coast League, RHP Raynel Velette threw five innings without allowing an earned run in his NYPL debut, striking out two against Connecticut, June 18...Velette struggled with control, walking one batter for every batter he struck out (36:36)...Allowed a team leading 9 home runs.
  • Drafted out of Keane State (NH), RHP Corey Vogt threw two scoreless innings in his Spinners debut without allowing a hit...Vogt was placed on the Restricted List, 7/25, where he finished the season.
  • RHP Tyler Wilson was one of the Spinners' most consistent starters in 2010, but he returned to Lowell as a piggy-back starter in 2011...Earned a promotion to Greenville after allowing just two earned runs in his first two outings...Returned to Lowell July 17, making five appearances (three starts) before being promoted to Greenville for few...Allowed just an unearned run over six innings of relief at State College, 7/31.
  • After a strong finish to the 2010 season in his professional debut, RHP Madison Younginer started strong before a rocky finish in his return to Lowell in 2011...After starting the season with two three-inning outings as he built up arm strength, Younginer threw four scoreless innings against Tri-City, 6/30...Struck out a season-high seven batters while allowing just one earned run against Hudson Valley, 7/11...Threw five scoreless innings at Brooklyn, 7/17, striking out four...Allowed just one hit while striking out three in 4.2 scoreless against Aberdeen, 8/2.

 

 



This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.