Mahoning Valley Scrappers
Akron RubberDucks second baseman was some kind of hot this past week. Joe Wendle went 11-21 for an obscene .524 average with three runs scored, three doubles, one triple, eight runs batted in and added a stolen base. Wendle got off to a slow start to the season having multiple hot and cold streaks. Over his last 26 games, however, Wendle has been consistently hot hitting .333 with eight extra base hits and 24 runs batted in during the time frame. Wendle leads the team with 41 runs batted in, one more than fellow prospect shortstop Francisco Lindor. Wendle has his batting average up to .264 with his recent surge but is still well below his career .307 minor league average coming into the season.
Wendle a sixth round pick in 2012 out of West Chester University has some uncanny similarities to a current Indians star Jason Kipnis. Both Kipnis and Wendle are listed at 5’11 190lbs, both bat left-handed and throw with their right hand. Take a look at the stats for both players in their first two years in the minor leagues.
Every student who leaves college has a nervous feeling as they set out into the real world to look for a job and pursue a career.
For Mahoning Valley Scrappers shortstop Austin Fisher, finding a job and career took only about three weeks while the adjustments continue. Fisher is currently the highest drafted player from the 2014 First Year Player draft to be assigned to a team.
The 6-foot, 1-inch, left-handed hitting infielder from Kansas State University was selected in the 13th round of this year’s draft. As a member of the Wildcats he was First Team All-Big 12 and a Brooks Wallace Award Semifinalist in 2013. He is on the watch list for the Brooks Wallace Award again this year. Fisher hit .361 in 2013 at Kansas State during his sophomore year and .300 this year in 2014. Upon signing his contract, Fisher was immediately assigned by the Indians to Mahoning Valley where he will serve as the team’s shortstop this season. He welcomes the challenge of transitioning quickly from the college game to a minor league season.
“I’m excited and glad they sent me out right away,” Fisher said. “The sooner I get out here, the more at-bats I can get and quicker I can get adjusted.”
It seems like an unlikely match, but instead, it might be the perfect one.
Former big leaguer Ted Kubiak will lead the Mahoning Valley Scrappers into New York-Penn League action this evening for the third straight season. The Scrappers open at Jamestown against the Jamestown Jammers at 7:05 p.m. Kubiak manages a team that has several players on it that weren’t born 21 years ago, when he began providing minor league instruction with the Cleveland Indians.
But, for a 72-year old who has two World Series rings and a 10-year big league career under his belt, Kubiak enjoys the challenge and development of managing the Short Season-A team.
“It’s different, we’re developing,” Kubiak said on Thursday. “We’re more or less letting these kids play. What I’m imparting to them is maybe a little bit of how to deal with the game. We can teach them all the fundamentals, but I think what they see in how we handle things can calm them down a little bit.”
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers celebrated their 15th season of playing baseball in Niles, Ohio this season and although it did not end in a playoff berth, it did provide for a fun and interesting season of minor league ball. The Scrappers for their part finished with a record of 30-44, good for fifth in the Pinckney Division, a half game better than the 2012 squad even in the midst of a streaky season where they set the franchise record for a losing streak at 12 games. Overcoming a tough string of losses like that is a testament to all the kids who suited up in a Scrappers uniform and their dedicated staff.
Even though this sets a second straight losing season for the club, the fans have still showed up to the gate for some summertime fun as the overall attendance marked climbed over 104,000.
Minor league baseball is a huge element of professional baseball. These teams serve the purpose of providing avenues for young ballplayers from all over the world to continue to develop their playing skills in a professional environment with the hopes of one-day stepping foot onto the big league stage. For the thirty teams of major league baseball this provides them the ability to invest in dozens of young players with the hopes of investing in the future of the franchise for years to come.
Aside from the baseball side of things, the 160 teams of minor league baseball allow for fans all over the country that may not be in close proximity to a big league club to catch professional game. Of course in a competitive sport, winning is important but at the minor league level most fans are not necessarily invested in the team’s record as they would with the big league club. The job of the minor league franchises is to create a fun family environment for all to enjoy.
The traditional story of how a young kid starts playing baseball is when the kid reaches the right age their parents register him for Little League and the rest is history. For Scrappers righty Dace Kime, it was more a fortunate accident that started it all.
“I was three years old when I went and watched my brother’s t-ball team play, he was five years old at the time,” Kime said. “They were a player short so they invited me out there to go ahead and play with them and it pretty much went from there.”
The 2013 Mahoning Valley Scrappers have not exactly performed in the way they imagined at the start of the season. At 20-28, the Scrappers sit 10.5 games out of first but the record is not completely telling of the club’s talent. Several of the Scrappers’ squad are enjoying good seasons, which was recognized when five players were selected to play in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game.
“That was great. That’s a good testament to them and what they are doing,” said Scrappers manager Ted Kubiak.
For a majority of newly drafted ballplayers when they join the organization and are sent to their first minor league assignment the only family they have is their teammates. Kenny Matthews was lucky in that even though Ohio is quite …
For the 2013 Mahoning Valley Scrappers this season has been an enduring one. The team currently stands at 14-23, good for fifth in the Pinckney Division, nine games out of first. Earlier in the month of July, the Scrappers endured a 12-game losing streak, the longest in the franchise’s 15-year existence. But since that abysmal stretch the team has played better baseball posting a 7-3 record in their last 10 games, including a four-game win streak going into Thursday’s game against the State College Spikes, their longest of the season.
The team ranks sixth out of 14 teams in the New York-Penn League in batting average at .243 but only 12th in runs scored with 122. The offense has certainly toiled this season but they have shown a rate of better success of late. The Scrapper arms have done their job admirably this season keeping the team in games on most nights. They rank seventh in the league in ERA at 3.17. As a team, they sit with a -26 Run Differential as the staff has allowed 148 runs to the opposition this season.
An inside the park home run is something of a rarity in professional baseball so when Scrappers outfielder Cody Ferrell connected for one in front of the home crowd the excitement had to be hard to contain.
“I was rounding first base and I saw him run into the wall and fall down so I just kept running,” Ferrell said excitedly. “Coach waved me and I just kept running. You know it was exciting we had a lot of fans that day so it was pretty neat to hear the roar of the crowd.”
If one had to guess the state that has the most players in professional baseball, many would opt for Texas. The Lone Star State seems to churn out baseball players as Ohio has cloudy days.
Indians righty Caleb Hamrick, a native of Cedar Hill, Texas, is another professional baseball player proud to call Texas his home. He was introduced to the sport as more an outlet for his energy than anything else.
“I was 4 when I started,” Hamrick laughed. ”My mom put me in baseball because I knocked windows out of the house by throwing things around the house.”
Not many people expect to hear the Men at Work one hit wonder, “Land Down Under,” playing at a baseball game. It’s much more reminiscent of the beach than a ballpark but every time Scrappers catcher Ryan Battaglia steps to the plate it is that song that echoes throughout the stadium to announce his walkup.
Battaglia does not come from your typical baseball background, he hails from Albany Creek, Australia. Australia is a country where sports such as soccer, cricket, and rugby are more common than baseball but the sport is growing. The Australian Baseball League features six teams that carry a collection of imports and domestic players. The league is funded by Major League Baseball and plays during the winter months, although due to being on the southern hemisphere it is summer for the Australians.