This week's Flashback
takes a look at one of the first stars in the Royals-era of Appleton Foxes
baseball. Francisco Laureano was 19
years old when he was playing for the Foxes in 1987.
He hit a lot of home runs, played a smooth second base, and was still
learning the professional game. Plus,
he picked up the more Americanized version of his name, Frankie Laureano.
Gary Shriver has the story (and
some interesting notes) from the July 26, 1987 edition of The Post-Crescent.
Laureano makes a hit in pro
The Kansas City Royals have to
be impressed by the season the Appleton Foxes' second baseman Frankie
Laureano is having.
Laureano currently is hitting
.319 with 13 homers and 60 RBI and leads the Midwest League in hits.
He was also selected to play in the All-Star game, where he slammed a
3-run home run.
But perhaps the thing the
Royals like best about Laureano is the fact that he's only 19 years old.
While most professional players
his age are usually only midway through a season in a rookie league, Laureano
already is in his third season of organized baseball, including his second in
the Midwest League.
Laureano, a native of the
, signed with the Royals in 1985 and played his first season with Puerto Plata,
a professional team in the
"It's a league that several
major league teams have clubs in," said Foxes' Pitching Coach Mike Alvarez.
"It's a league for younger players giving them a year to adjust to
pro ball in their own countries."
Last season, Laureano played
of the Midwest League, which at the time consisted of players from both
farm systems. Laureano hit .275
with seven homers and 37 RBI. His
numbers this season would certainly indicate that things are much better for the
second baseman the second time around.
"It's mainly a matter of
knowing the league better, of getting a year of experience," said Laureano.
"Last season, I was taking a lot more pitches than I am this year.
I think that's the main reason I have hit more home runs.
I think that I've also been helped by the fact that I've hit in the
four- or five-position most of the season. Last
season, I started out batting ninth. Later
on I led off, and during the course of the year was moved up and down in the
His current numbers, as good as they are, don't tell the entire story about
how valuable Laureano was to the Foxes early in the season.
During April and May, while much of the team was still adjusting to
, Laureano's bat keyed the Foxes' attack, allowing the team to get off to a
"He, Patt Bailey, and Kenny
Jackson were our offensive firepower during that time," said Foxes' Manager
Ken Berry. "He must have hit .350
or .360 during May, and I nominated him for player-of-the-month.
He really helped to carry us until everyone else got involved.
, with an area of less than 20,000 square miles and a population of less than
five million, occupies the eastern two-third of the
, which it shares with
. This country has, however,
produced gifted baseball players out of all proportion to its size.
"There are several players
from my home town (Santa Domingo) in the league right now, including
shortstop Bien Figueroa (another All-Star)," said Laureano.
"I think we have so many players because the weather is warm back home
and we can play all year, and the fact that baseball is the major sport."
The Dominican players are
probably also helped by the fact that most of them are single-minded as far as
career objectives are concerned - to play baseball, to play it well and to
play it eventually at the major league level.
"I want to make the big
leagues. That's all I want to
do," said Laureano.
"He's a good prospect,"
. "He's having a good year with
the bat, but he'll have to learn to go the other way.
He's certainly capable of hitting the long ball, but sometimes he tends
to try to hit that a little too much. He's
also a steady influence on the club, despite only being 19.
He's a good fielder, but needs to improve his range a bit."
retired from baseball in 1949 and went on to become the chairman of the physical
education department at
, until his retirement this spring. Cooper
was responsible for recruiting several area basketball players who attended that
Mike Butcher, who rejoined the Foxes Thursday after spending a month with
of the Florida State League, will fill the place of pitcher Gary Peters on
the roster. Peters was placed on
the disabled list.
Pat Bailey is expected to rejoin the Foxes in
after being called up to the Royals' Class AAA Omaha affiliate.
Bailey was moved to that club to fill in because of injuries.
NOTES AND REACTIONS
1.) Laureano finished the
season with 16 homers and a .323 batting average. He was not only a mid-season
All-Star in the MWL, but -- according to an article from later in the season -
also a post-season MWL All-Star at second base.
Other players on that 1987 post-season all-star squad were:
Outfielders: Greg Vaughn (
), Greg Ritchie (
) and Jerome Walton (
First base: Mark Leonard (
Shortstop: Bien Figueroa (
Third Base: Keith Lockhart (
Catcher: Todd Zeile (
Designated Hitter: Victor
Right-handed starter: Bob
Left-handed starter: Trevor
Right-handed reliever: Mike
Left-handed reliever: Bob
Co-MVP of the MWL in 1987:
Vaughn and Zeile
Manager of the Year: Don
2.) Laureano did not make it to
the majors. He made it as high as
Triple-A Omaha in 1991. He appeared
in six games and hit .153. He was
let go after the 1991 season and did not sign with anyone else.
3.) Over the final four seasons
of his career, Laureano never hit more than four homers in a season.
In fact, he hit just 13 homers over the final 482 games of his career.
Those 16 homers with the Foxes came in 139 games.
4.) On that Co-op team in Burlington
with the Expos and the Royals. Laureano was teammates with Larry
5.) Stu Cooper played 11 games
for the Lockport Cubs in the PONY (
) League in 1943. There was a gap in
his career from 1943 to 1946. It
doesn't say anything, but I am guessing that service in the military for World
War II had something to do with that gap. In
1946, he hit .278 with a homer for the Papermakers.
Cooper went on to play for two teams in 1947 and one team in 1948 before
hanging up the spikes. Also, Texas
A&I-Kingsville is now Texas A&M-Kingsville.
Noteable graduates of that school include Al Harris of the Green Bay Packers,
Gene Upshaw, Darrell Green, and Eva Longoria...repeating...EVA
7.) I have done some research
in to Stewart
'Stu' Cooper. Instead of
adding the information on to this column, I am going to put the article that I
found from a November, 2007 Javelina Hash column in the Texas A&M-Kingsville
sports department publication Javelinas Highlights in next week's Flashback.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.