Atlantic League news, transactions Sept. 10 – 16
As the Atlantic League’s 2012 regular season nears an end, there were plenty of noteworthy items happening across nearly all eight ball clubs this past week. And none of it involved Roger Clemens. Thanks to a double-header-palooza Saturday, several attendance marks were set league-wide. Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson also made an appearance in York to honor Revs’ manager Andy Etchebarren. And Butch Hobson’s club in Lancaster is nearing the league’s all-time win mark. So, before we get to the transactions, here are some newsworthy items:
Ducks: In a ceremony Sept. 11 outside Bethpage Ballpark in Long Island, retired New York City Fire Officer and Long Island 9/11 Memorial President Ken Dolan dedicated a steel beam from the World Trade Center to Frank Boulton and the Long Island Ducks in recognition of their long-time support and friendship of the organization. The piece of steel will be placed on the ballpark plaza in front of the flag poles.
Attendance: The Atlantic League recently announced that three split double-headers in Long Island, Lancaster and York last Saturday along with a regularly scheduled doubleheader in Bridgeport has earned the league a new one-day attendance record of 36,979 breaking the old record of 30,257 for 5 games featuring a split double-header in Long Island on September 17, 2006. Saturday’s attendance for the double-headers was led by Long Island with 12,388 while Lancaster drew 11,189 and York totaled 10,622. Bridgeport rounded out the day with 2,780 for the new league total.
The league said the new daily total swelled the 2012 attendance to an all- time record of 2,257,334 easily besting the previous high-water mark for the league set in 2008 at 2,208,734 with 28 dates remaining.
Etch: The York Revolution honored skipper Andy Etchebarren, who is retiring at the end of the year, prior to Sunday’s game. After Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson chatted about Etch’s success, the team honored Etch’ with a plaque that will be hung in the stadium concourse. The Revs are also retiring Etch’s No. 8 Revs’ jersey – the first game-worn Revs’ jersey number to be retired. It’s the third jersey number to be retired by the club, joining No. 42 (Jackie Robinson) and No. 5 (Brooks Robinson). Speaking of Brooks and Etch, check out the recent article from the Baltimore Sun discussing the iconic 1966 World Series photograph, with quotes from several O’s players that day, including Robinson and Etch.
Hobson: Since Etch and Lancaster manager Butch Hobson, both good friends, are competing against each other presumably for the final time (Etch’ is retiring at the end the season) when the playoffs start next week, I just wanted to point out a recent (and fantastic) article from Lancaster reporter Mike Gross on Hobson and his success to this point. Hobson’s club is nearing the league’s all-time win mark – they need just two more wins in the final six regular season games to set the new record. Hobson also makes quite a declarative statement in the article regarding his championship aspirations.
State College update: A few months ago Opening Day Partners’ chairman Peter Kirk sent a letter to State College Spikes officials expressing interest in bringing the club into the Atlantic League. Well, it appears that won’t be happening, at least not any time soon. The Spikes’ Player Development Contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates expired after this season. The Pirates and Spikes, part of the short-season New York Penn League, have been struggling to reach a new deal since then. News broke late Sunday that the Spikes have apparently reached a PDC with the St. Louis Cardinals for the next two seasons. The Centre Daily Times first reported the news.
Now on to the transactions….
Several clubs were very active in the last seven days mainly thanks to the Sept. 17 deadline for Atlantic League clubs to sign players that have yet to be involved in previous transactions with their clubs this season. A total of 10 players and five Atlantic League teams were involved in transactions last week. Seven of those players were acquired via trades. One is a former big leaguer.
BRIDGEPORT BLUEFISH: Acquired RHP Mike Ness from New Jersey Jackals (Can-Am League)
Ness, 24, joins the Bluefish during his third season of pro ball. The right-hander split time earlier this season between Can-Am clubs Newark and New Jersey. In 20 combined starts, he posted an 11-3 record with a 3.15 ERA and 97 strikeouts over the course of 143 innings pitched. The New Jersey native is just two years removed from playing at NCAA Division I Duke University, where he went a combined 9-9 with a 4.58 ERA in 85 appearances (10 starts) during his four years there. The Houston Astros drafted Ness in the 33rd round in 2010. The 6-foot-4 righty spent all of the 2011 season at High Class A Lancaster, putting up a 4-6 record and 5.98 ERA in 42 games (one start).
CAMDEN RIVERSHARKS: Acquired RHP Steve Fox from New Jersey Jackals (Can-Am League) in exchange for a player to be named later, acquired RHP Adrian Martin and RHP Jon Velasquez from Rockland Boulders (Can-Am League) in exchange for 2 players to be named later; traded RHP Leo Rosales to Long Island to complete the previous trade for OF Reid Gorecki
Fox comes over to Camden after posting a 13-3 record and 3.57 ERA in 20 starts for New Jersey this season. He also pitched in one playoff game for the Jackals, holding Quebec to three runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings of work. Fox, 26, is in just his fourth pro season – spending three of those in indy ball. He spent all of the 2010 season in the Boston Red Sox minor leagues, pitching mostly at Low Class A Lowell, where he went 4-2 with a 4.96 ERA in 16 relief appearances.
Martin, 28, might another big upgrade for Camden – “upgrade” referring to Camden’s roster next year if he stays on board seeing as how the ‘Sharks are out of playoff contention in 2012. The 6-foot-1 right-hander collected a 6-3 record and 1.26 ERA with 19 saves in 46 relief appearances for Rockland this season. The former Long Island Ducks’ pitcher and longtime Toronto Blue Jays’ prospect has been in Rockland for the past two seasons. He topped out at Class AAA Las Vegas (Jays) in 2009.
Velasquez, 26, is a former Philadelphia Phillies prospect who has also spent his time playing in Rockland since 2011. Signed by the Phils’ as an undrafted free agent in 2009, Velasquez mostly played at High Class A Clearwater the next two seasons, collecting a 3.25 ERA there in 58 combined games (18 starts). The right-handed starter had a 4.95 ERA and 6-7 record this season for Rockland, striking out 85 and walking 60 in 129 innings.
In 34 appearances for the ‘Sharks this season, Rosales put up a 1.52 ERA.
LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Acquired LHP Matt Way from the Laredo Lemurs (American Association) in exchange for future considerations; acquired RHP Leo Rosales from Camden to complete the previous trade for OF Reid Gorecki; signed RHP Chris Flinn
Way, 25, comes to the Atlantic League for the first time in his short career. Once considered a big-time Phillies’ prospect, Way was cut by the Phils in March mainly thanks to injury issues he battled during his three years in the organization. His 2010 season was cut short due to back inflammation and he subsequently missed all of the 2011 season. Just three years removed from playing college ball at Washington State University, the Alaska native had a 10-7 record and 3.98 ERA in 20 starts and one relief appearance for Laredo this season.
Rosales is a former big leaguer who joined the ‘Sharks in early July. The 31-year-old reliever is a former 20th round draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 2003 who later reached the majors with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008. In all, Rosales has 76 games of big league experience under his belt, with a career 5-2 record and 5.01 ERA in the majors, having last pitched there with the D’Backs in 2010. It’s unclear where he played, if at all, in 2011. In 34 appearances for the ‘Sharks this season, Rosales put up a 1.52 ERA.
Flinn had returned to the Ducks in early July for the second year in a row after putting together a 1.59 ERA in four games with the Ducks in 2011. But Long Island released the right-hander in the third week of August after he had an 0-4 record and 13.20 ERA over seven games (three starts).
SOMERSET PATRIOTS: Released OF Rian Kiniry
Kiniry, 25, is a former Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim prospect who came to York earlier this season after hitting .142 in 60 games at Class AA Arkansas. But the Revs shipped him to Somerset a short time later after he batted 2-for-11 (.182) with an RBI in three games in a Revs’ uniform. He hit just .233 with five RBIs and 11 runs scored in 46 games for the Patriots.
YORK REVOLUTION: Acquired RHP Mike Benacka from Laredo Lemurs (American Association) in exchange for a player to be named later
Benacka succeeded as Laredo’s closer this year by posting a 2-2 record, 2.39 ERA and 12 saves in 43 appearances. The 6-foot-2 right-hander struck out 92 and walked 35 in 52.2 innings of work. He played college ball at Lindenwood (MO) University before joining the independent Frontier League’s River City ball club in 2007. He would be picked up the next year after starting off the season with River City by going 3-0 with a 0.35 ERA in 22 appearances. The Oakland Athletics picked him up that year and assigned him to High Class A Stockton. Benacka, 30, reached Class AAA Sacramento in 2009 and would accumulate 54 games there through 2011, posting a career 6-4 record and 3.84 ERA there.