Posts Tagged ‘Walt McKeel’

All 15 Year Team: Shortstop

March 22, 2008

So far, we’ve taken a look at the Thunder’s All 15 Year Team nominees for catcher, first base and second base.

So of course, we’ll be breaking down Thunder batboys today.  Or shortstops, your call.

David McDonough is the featured writer in our position-by-position breakdown of the Thunder’s All 15 Year Team, and has covered the team since their inception in 1994.  He brings a smooth and unique writing style, not to mention a knowledge of the team’s history and players that few others have.  In short, few are as qualified as he is to be doing this.

The following is Dave’s breakdown, mine will follow after all of his are done…

Nomar Garciaparra: Arguably, Nomar has had the greatest major league success of any Thunder player, although he has not been too good in recent years. The question is, do we honor for what he accomplished in the big leagues, or what he did in Trenton? Because if we are just talking Double-A ball, he’s not getting my vote. You have to remember, we had Nomar before Nomar was No-Mah!.

Nomar showed up in Trenton in 1995 sporting maybe 165 pounds on his 6’0 frame. He was the Red Sox first round pick in 1994, and big things were expected of him. He was solid in a Thunder uniform, sporting the best glove the young team had seen at shortstop. He had good speed, stealing 35 bases. But as a hitter, he was average, showing the occasional flash of power. In 125 games, he hit .267 with 8 homers and knocked in 47 runs. Not that anyone expected him to bat in runs; he was hitting at the top of the line-up. After all, this was a skinny, speedy 22-year-old shortstop with great leather, in only his first full pro season. He was expected, when he filled out, to man his position at Fenway with élan, hit between 15 and 20 homers, and bat between .280 and .290.

Then, the next spring, Nomar showed up for work with the Triple-A PawSox about thirty pounds heavier, all muscle. Hits that had gone “crack” the year before now went “woomph.” He had 16 home runs in 43 games with Pawtucket before getting hurt, and everyone knows the rest of the story. The one-time lead-off man had become a masher. For half a dozen years he reigned supreme in Boston, where he became ‘No-Mah!”, a regional icon. He even had his number retired in Trenton, but that had a lot more to do with his great years in Boston than his year in Trenton.

There was even some trepidation that he might be less than gracious about the number-retiring ceremony, since his relationship with the fans and press in Trenton had been a little strained. He had become annoyed one day in ’95 when he made an admittedly great play in the field, and the crowd failed to recognize it. Nomar said as much to the reporters afterward, and then was dismayed when we ran his comments. His big mistake was attempting to deny that he had said it. Some put his distrust of the press as beginning at that moment, but I think he was just always uncomfortable talking to reporters, partly out of genuine shyness.

He was always going to be a good ballplayer, but no one who saw him in Trenton in 95 could have said how good. Remember when A-Rod, Jeter and No-Mah were the great, future Hall-Of-fame triumvirate shortstops in the American League? Well, two of them are going to Hall of Fame, but injuries have knocked Nomar out of contention. As the guy in my Italian deli said to me once, “You know, I said to him, ‘You never know, you know.’”

Adam Everett: How about this: when Adam Everett hit Trenton in 1999, the player he most resembled was the 1995 stripped-down version of Nomar. He was a 22-year-old first round draft choice who was playing his first full season in the pros. He was six feet and weighed about 170. He was a great shortstop – even better than Nomar, in my opinion – who the Red Sox hoped would fill out and become a decent hitter. He played 98 games in Trenton before getting hurt, and batted .263 – about the same as Nomar – with 10 homers. And he batted at the top of the line-up, just behind David Eckstein, with whom he formed the best keystone combination in the league.

The sequel is a little different than Nomar’s. The Red Sox shipped him off the next winter to the Astros for power-hitting Carl Everett (after all, the Sox did have a pretty decent shortstop named Nomah at the time). Adam never did get heavier or become a good hitter, but he has carved out a good living as one of the top defensive shortstops in the National League. He signed a one-year contract with the Twins this off-season.

Donnie Sadler: About a quarter of the way into the 1996 season, the Red Sox announced that their fleet, diminutive (5’6) Trenton Thunder shortstop, 21-year-old Donnie Sadler, was now the Red Sox center fielder of the future. They sent him off to Florida for a couple of weeks for tutelage, and then brought him back to Trenton and installed him in front of the center field scoreboard.

And he hated it. A very shy, immature kid, Sadler liked the excitement of the infield, and hated the boredom of waiting for four or five chances a game in the outfield. After 30 games, the experiment was halted, and Sadler went back to shortstop. But the experience seemed to leave a bad taste in his month. He began to pal around with a couple of team vets who were known as malcontents. Most veterans are helpful to a young player; these guys were not. Sadler ended up with a mediocre season and a mild reputation as an unreliable guy. He became a utility infielder, bouncing around baseball, getting 416 games of big-league ball in eight years. In 2007, while playing Triple-A for the DBacks, he was suspended for 50 games for drug violations.

Can all this be blamed on one failed experiment in 1996? Probably not. But if the Sox had been paying attention, they might have realized that a shy, small town kid just a couple of years out of high school needed to stay out of the spotlight while he matured.

Ramiro Pena: There’s nothing wrong with Ramiro that good health and the ability to master Double-A pitching won’t cure. He’s got the glove, but hasn’t gotten his average over .252 in parts of the last three years with Trenton. He looked like he might be starting to hit when he broke his wrist in 2006, and hurt his shoulder in June, 2007, missing the rest of the season. In 140 games with the Thunder, he has yet to homer, and he doesn’t steal much. He’s not in Baseball America’s Top 30 Yankee prospects. The good news is, he’s only 22. But health and hitting better come soon.

Not On the Ballot: Freddy Sanchez: Freddy played 113 games at shortstop for Trenton between 2001 and 2002, and 11 games at second base, so why he is on the ballot at second eludes me. The man was an on-base machine. He holds the club record for hitting safely in 27 consecutive games, hit .327 in 489 at bats over the two seasons and had a combined OBP around .400. He’s the only Thunder player to hit 4 doubles in a game. Stole a few bases, too. And defensively, he was better than average. He was a 2002 Eastern League All-Star.

Naturally, since he was only 5’10, the Red Sox had to get rid of him. He went to the Pirates for Jeff Suppan in a multi-player trade in 2003. Suppan went on to win three games for the Red Sox, while Freddy was the 2006 National League batting champ. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have had five shortstops in five years. Not one of Theo Epstein’s smarter moves.

Dave’s Vote Goes To: Freddy Sanchez

Ashmore’s Thunder Thoughts: At first glance, some fans may look at the ballot, see “Nomar Garciaparra” and vote for him without even looking at any of the other candidates.  Not me…

Nomar Garciaparra: If you’re looking at this contest based solely on what the player did while he was in Trenton, then Garciaparra’s 1995 season doesn’t really stand out above the others.  He hit .267 with eight home runs and 47 RBI.  He also swiped 35 bags on the basepaths, and committed 23 errors in the field.

Baseball America named him a Double-A All-Star, and he was an Eastern League All-Star as well.

Get your hate mail ready Thunder fans…but as the Thunder’s shortstop, Garciaparra was kind of overrated.  It was in Pawtucket the following year where he became the complete player that you saw in the big leagues for years, before injuries eventually limited him in the field and took away a lot of his power.

While he’s gone on to great things after playing for Trenton, countless other players made more of an impact at Waterfront Park than Garciaparra did.

Adam Everett: You could make a case that Adam Everett did more in his one year in Trenton than Nomar Garciaparra did, he just didn’t have the accolades Nomar did.

He hit just four points less than Garciaparra did, hit two more home runs and drove in seven less runs, all in nearly 30 games less than Garciaparra had to compile his statistics.

Along with David Eckstein, he also formed one of the most dazzling double-play combinations seen anywhere, no less Trenton.

It would be interesting to look at how many of the guys on these ballots never got to accomplish anything in a Red Sox uniform, and Everett would be a part of that list.  He was traded for another Everett, the controversial Carl, who went on to lead the league in umpire headbutts, inappropriate body part grabbing and odd comments.  While Carl now enters his second season of independent ball, Adam goes to the American League with the Twins after seven seasons in Houston, including one World Series appearance.

Donnie Sadler: Does every Thunder shortstop on this list have eerily similar statistics?  Sadler’s 1996 stats: .267, 6 home runs and 46 RBI.

Sadler made it to the big leagues with the Red Sox just two seasons later, and has been every bit of a journeyman since then.  Parts of three seasons at Fenway.  Splitting another with Kansas City and Cincinnati.  Another split year between the Royals and Rangers.

After that?  77 forgetable games in Texas in 2003, and 19 games over the past four seasons for Arizona.

Sadler could never hit at the Major League level, with a career average of .202 in 768 at-bats.  Not even the alleged use of performance enhancing drugs changed that, as he was hit with a 50-game ban in July of last year.

Once traded with controversial Thunder alum Michael Coleman, Sadler now finds himself without a job for 2008.

Ramiro Pena: It’s hard to believe that Ramiro Pena would be considered one of the more memorable players in Thunder history.  However, at just 22 years of age, he still has time to blossom into an Alberto Gonzalez sort of player, i.e. someone with a legitimate chance for a Major League opportunity.

But so far, in parts of three seasons with the Thunder, Pena hasn’t shown that.  514 Double-A at-bats have yet to yield his first home run, and he has just 29 extra-base hits in his entire career.  He also doesn’t steal any bases, with just 20 bags swiped in 223 career games.

In the field, he’s solid but unspectacular, and it’s going to have to be his defense that moves him up the ladder.  Hindsight is always 20-20, but it would seem as though the Yankees thought they had more than they actually did in Pena, and attempted to rush him as a result.

Not On The Ballot: Freddy Sanchez.  “Fab Five” Freddy, as I nicknamed him after his move to third base in Pittsburgh, was certainly one of the better players to ever wear a Thunder uniform.  Just imagine him and Kevin Youkilis in the same lineup…well, they almost were in 2002.  When Sanchez finally got his well-deserved call-up to Triple-A in July, it was Youkilis who was summoned from Sarasota to take his spot.

The pattern repeated itself next year, but with more disastrous results.  Youkilis was called up to Pawtucket at the end of July.  However, two days later, it was Sanchez who was traded to the Pirates…forever eliminating the possibility that the two would play together in the big leagues.  And what did Theo Epstein — who I foolishly walked right past when he was picking up his tickets for Roger Clemens’ rehab assignment — get in return?  Former Thunder pitcher Jeff “Chicken” Suppan, Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez.

The Pirates got the eventual NL batting champ.

You tell me who got the better end of that deal.  But hey, that’s how most trades seemed to work out when the Thunder were affiliated with the Red Sox…

Mike’s Vote Goes To: Adam Everett.  Easily my most controversial pick to date, but he was a large part of why that 1999 team was one of the best minor league baseball has ever seen.

Our ballots so far:

C: Walt McKeel (McDonough), Virgil Chevalier (Ashmore)
1B: Tony Clark (McDonough), Shelley Duncan (Ashmore)
2B: David Eckstein (McDonough), David Eckstein (Ashmore)
SS: Freddy Sanchez (McDonough), Adam Everett (Ashmore)

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

All 15 Year Team: Catcher

February 26, 2008

Steve Lomasney / Photo by Mike Ashmore (2006)

As promised, Thunder Thoughts look at the All 15 Year Team nominees begins today with a look at the four finalists at catcher.

Anyone who’s followed the Thunder throughout their history is certainly familiar with David McDonough, who has covered the team since its inception in 1994. Dave is one of the most well-respected and likeable people in the Thunder press box.  For what it’s worth, he was also one of the first people who would actually talk to me when I first started covering the team.  That sounds like nothing…but trust me, that’s something.

Similar to what I did with Steve Rudenstein and the Top 30 Prospects breakdown (which will return this week with prospects #21-25, by the way), Dave’s going to be our featured writer and the following are his thoughts on Walt McKeel, Steve Lomasney, Virgil Chevalier and Dioner Navarro.  With his experience in covering the team, he brings a unique and welcome perspective to Thunder Thoughts, and I hope you all enjoy both his analysis and mine for the Trenton Thunder’s All 15 Year Team.

The following is Dave’s breakdown, mine will follow after all of his are done…

Walt McKeel: Walt McKeel was never going to be an impact player, and he never did get much big league time, only 11 games in parts of three seasons. In his second year at Trenton, in 1996, he was arguably the MVP on a first-place team. The 24-year-old batted .302 with 16 home runs and 78 RBIs and handled the pitching staff in excellent fashion, including Minor League Pitcher of the Year Carl Pavano. When the Red Sox rewarded McKeel by sending him up to Boston just in time to miss the Eastern League playoffs, the Thunder sputtered without him, and lost in the semi-finals. The killer was that McKeel sat on the bench in Boston, and got into one game without an at-bat.

It was McKeel’s best year in professional ball. He stayed around until he was 30 with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers and Rockies organizations, but never did much. But the Thunder would not have been in first place in the Southern Division of the Eastern League in 1996 without him.

Steve Lomasney: The pride of Peabody, Massachusetts, Steve Lomasney was always going be the Red Sox catcher of the future. The future never happened. Lomasney was a 21-year-old power hitting backstop when he got to Trenton in 1999. He had crunched 22 homers in Single-A in 1998, but he had also struck out 145 times. He hit 12 homers in 47 games for the Thunder in 1999, and everyone thought he was on his way. The Red Sox even brought him up at the end of the season, and let him get into one game, to the delight of all his family and friends in Peabody. Turns out, that was his only big league game.

Injuries on and off the field and struggles at the plate did him in. He was hurt for part of 2000. After he hit 10 home runs for Trenton in 58 games in 2001, he got the call to Pawtucket. When he floundered at the start of the 2002 season, he was back in Trenton. A completely demoralized Lomasney struggled badly, batting .210 in 109 games with an astronomic 133 strikeouts. That was pretty much it for him. He hung around for a few more years but never got out of AAA. His lifetime Minor League batting average for 12 years was .229. Just a reminder to us all how hard this game really is.

Virgil Chevalier: Every team has one or two guys you look at and think, “Well, he’ll probably never make the majors, but baseball sure could use someone like that coaching or managing.” Guys like former Thunder players Gavin Jackson (96-98), Nate Tebbs (97-99), Tom Sergio (02), Andy Cannizaro (03-05) and Anton French (02), who, as it happens, is now a minor league instructor for the Phillies. And from last year’s club, Jason Brown and Noah Hall.

Chevy was like that, too. Over the 3 ½ seasons (98-01) he played for Trenton, he grew from a shy guy to a confident veteran, to whom the young players could go for guidance. The first Native American to play for the Thunder (sorry, Joba), he had been signed by the Red Sox as a free agent after an open tryout at Fenway Park. He was originally a catcher, but played only 9 games there for Trenton. He was mostly a first baseman and outfielder. In 1999, he hit .293 with 13 homers. In all, he played nine minor league seasons, and got mentioned in “Moneyball”, although not as prominently as Youkilis. I think the exact quote was, “Who is Virgil Chevalier?” I can tell you he is, Billy Beane – a class act all the way.

Dioner Navarro: He was a top prospect for the Yankees when he joined the Thunder in 2003. He had good hands, a good arm, and when he batted .341 in 58 games for Trenton, at the age of just 19, he was considered, along with teammate Robby Cano, to be a future regular at the Stadium. Some how, it never happened. In 2005, Navarro went to the Dodgers in a three-way deal that saw Randy Johnson got to the Yankees. He never did much with the Dodgers, and last year, with the Devil Rays, he was the victim of a freak accident in June and ended up batting .227. The Rays still call him their starting catcher, and he’s only 24, but so far, he has been one more example of the fact that the Thunder have never had a catcher who went on to be a big league impact player.

Not on the ballot: Joe DePastino: Joe hit 17 homers in 79 games as the Thunder catcher in 1997, and hit .295 in 73 games in 1998. All told, in 158 games for Trenton, he had 29 homers and 103 RBIs. He’s now the manager of single-A West Michigan in the Tigers organization.

But my favorite story about DePas comes from 2000, when he was a back-up catcher for the Bowie BaySox. The BaySox hosted the Double-A All-Star game. One of the catchers voted to the team was late, and Joe was in the stands, about to watch the game. So they hoisted out, gave him his shin guards and told him he was on the squad. He didn’t play, of course, but it is written now for posterity that a catcher batting .215 in 19 games was a member of the American League AA All-Star team. Surely an inspirational story for us all.

Dave’s Vote Goes to: Walt McKeel.

————-

Ashmore’s Thunder Thoughts: As some of my regular readers may know, I started regularly following the team as a fan in 1999 before eventually covering the team as a writer in 2006.  In terms of catchers, I came in somewhere around the Steve Lomasney era, if you want to be so generous as to call it that.

With that said, here’s my look at each of the four catchers.  Also, to borrow Dave’s idea (see: steal) I’m going to take a look at someone who stands out for me who isn’t on the ballot.

Walt McKeel: McKeel was picked in the third round of the 1990 draft by the Red Sox, and became just one of 10 players selected in that round to make the big leagues.  He went from prospect to suspect to journeyman pretty quickly, as five years came between his penultimate and final Major League cups of coffee in 1997 and 2002, with the Red Sox and Rockies, respectively.

McKeel caught for parts of three seasons in Trenton, and was eventually succeeded by Joe DePastino in 1997.

Steve Lomasney: Rather than essentially recap what I’ve written about Lomasney in the past, I’ll simply include my 2006 feature on Lomasney from when he came back to Waterfront Park as a member of the New Britain Rock Cats.  After that, I’ll share my two favorite memories of Lomasney’s career as a fan…

—-

Steve Lomasney enjoyed his finest season in 1999 as a member of the Trenton Thunder. The starting catcher of the most successful team in franchise history, Lomasney parlayed his year into a September call-up from the Boston Red Sox, where he got into the last game of the season against the Orioles and got two at-bats.

Seven years later, and all Lomasney has is that taste of what his career could have been.

After being named the Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year, Lomasney went into the 2000 season with lofty expectations. Baseball America considered him the number one prospect in the entire Red Sox organization and he seemed to be in line for another September call-up at the very least. But injuries ended his season two months early, so that call-up would have to wait.

In 2001, the Peabody, Mass. native was up with Triple-A Pawtucket, an injury away from getting another chance at wearing the uniform of his hometown team. But it was another injury of his own that altered the course of his season and ultimately his career. Lomasney was struck in the eye with a line drive during batting practice, fracturing his orbital bone and damaging his cornea.

As a result, the call-up he was waiting for never came, and the chance of wearing a Red Sox uniform again went away with it after not re-signing with the organization following his fourth straight season in Double-A in 2002.

He caught on with the Orioles organization in 2003 and with the Reds for 2004 and 2005, spending all three seasons with their Triple-A teams. But Baltimore and Cincinnati didn’t see anything from him that warranted a big league call-up either, his struggles being capped by a meager .160 batting average in limited action with the Louisville Bats last season.

Lomasney only played for a few innings in his only big league appearance in Camden Yards, but it served as a microcosm of the reason why he‘s never been able to stick in the show. He threw out both base runners who tried to steal against him, but also struck out in both of his plate appearances.

“Three-two counts both times,” Lomasney said. “I was swinging hard, but I had a little bit of the jitters in me.”

Always known more for his glove than his bat, Lomasney entered the 2006 season with 2,790 professional at-bats. He’d struck out in 961 of them, an alarming rate of one strikeout per 2.9 at-bats.

Numbers like that won’t get you anywhere, especially the big leagues, and that’s why the 28 year-old Lomasney finds himself in the visiting dugout of Trenton’s Waterfront Park, spending his fifth season at the Double-A level.

Now with the New Britain Rock Cats, the Eastern League affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, Lomasney is again struggling, hitting just .194 with no home runs and three RBI. Having gone from the next Carlton Fisk to the next Crash Davis, he returns to the site of that breakout 1999 season at a very different stage of his career.

“When I first got here, I said I’d never been on this side of the field before,” Lomasney said, across the diamond from the home dugout he spent four seasons in.

“We had great fans and great players here, it was a great organization to be with.”

Even with his slow start, his teammates and coaches seem to be behind him.

“He’s a veteran presence behind the plate,” said Rock Cats manager Riccardo Ingram, who noted that Lomasney was working well with his other catcher, Jose Morales.

“Steve knows his role here, and his role is basically to be a veteran leader. I think he’s fitting the bill well.”

Lomasney, who’s already accumulated seven strikeouts in thirty-one at-bats this season said he’d been contacted by several independent league teams over the past few seasons, but feels his best chance to get back is by staying in the minors.

With his chances in affiliated baseball quickly diminishing, this is one opportunity where Steve Lomasney can’t afford to strike out.

My two favorite Lomasney moments involve a bench clearing brawl and a broken bat walk-off home run. 

The first occured on my Dad’s birthday in 2000 and was against the Binghamton Mets.  We were sitting on the first base side, and prospect at the time Leslie Brea was on the mound for the B-Mets.  Brea had already hit Lomasney once in the game, and then proceeded to drill him again in his next at-bat.  In what is still the only bench clearing brawl I’ve ever seen in over 400 games, Lomasney charged the mound, but never really got to his target.  Mets catcher Jimmy Gonzalez got to Lomasney before he was able to charge Brea, and after a few minutes order was restored.

I asked Lomasney about this during our 2006 chat, and he said the following:

“Well, earlier in the year, Leslie and I…he was pitching a really good game, and I hit a home run off of him and it ended up being the game winning run, but it was earlier in the game.  I don’t know if he took that too well.  I got to know Leslie after all this, and he’s a good guy, but he hit me twice.  He hit me twice, and they were both definitely intentional.  After he hit me, I kind of just looked at him, and he yelled something to me, and I basically just snapped and charged him.  I didn’t get to him, the catcher caught me, Jimmy Gonzalez.  But we cleared it and had a pretty good one for a little bit.  But that’s the nature of the game.  Guys get hit, you get hit twice, and you’ve got to have your respect.  You can’t just lay down for people.  That was the only time I ever charged the mound.  It happened, and it was just one of those things.”

The broken bat walk-off home run was against Bryan Malko and the New Britain Rock Cats.  I was sitting behind the home dugout, and I can remember watching a part of the bat go flying instead of the ball…which of course went sailing over the wall for the game winning home run.

Again, I was lucky enough to ask Steve about this as well a few years back…

“I don’t really tell a lot of people about that, because a lot of people don’t believe it.  It was unbelievable.  I knew I hit the ball good, and the bat kind of exploded in my hands.  I think part of it actually went in the New Britain dugout.  I had the handle in my hand, and I was watching the ball and I remember thinking, ‘I think I hit a home run.’  I was jogging slow, and finally it went out for a walk-off home run, and I took the handle and put it in my back pocket and finished my trot.  After the game, everyone couldn’t believe that just happened.  I didn’t know if the bat was already broken or what, but I hit the ball good and the bat just exploded.”

Virgil Chevalier: I actually don’t remember Chevy as a catcher at all.  I actually remember much better as an outfielder, where he permanently switched to in 1999.  For someone his size, he wasn’t that bad of an outfielder either.  At the plate, Chevy had some of his best years for the Thunder, hitting .293 in 1999 and .309 in 2000.  He was one of the guys who would always sign autographs for fans, and was always very friendly.

As someone who had followed the team for three seasons at the time, I can remember how weird it was to see Chevy in a B-Mets uniform in 2002.  One of his game used, signed red Thunder hats sits on one of my shelves back home as a memory of my days as a Thunder fan.

Dioner Navarro: Navarro was one of the more hyped prospects the Thunder had at the time he first put on a Trenton uniform in 2003.  Following the somewhat painful switch in affiliations from Boston to the Yankees, both Navarro and Robinson Cano gave the Thunder the star power they hadn’t had in several years.

He played pretty well behind the plate in Trenton, and was usually pretty accessible to the media by all accounts.  Unfortunately, he never really lived up to the hype that was placed on him, and has bounced around a few teams since being dealt by the Yankees in the ill-fated Randy Johnson trade.

Not On The Ballot: Damian Sapp.  Sapp’s friendly nature, willingness to sign autographs, and occasional tape measure blast made him one of my favorites from the 2000 team.  The 1996 Boston Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year, Sapp seemed destined to play in Fenway after quickly rising through their farm system in first three years.

Turns out, the only time he would seet foot in Fenway Park would be to pick up that award.

Injuries, specifically to his knees and back, wrecked any chance Sapp had at a Major League career.  He eventually ended his career with Nashua Pride of the Atlantic League, where I got to ask him about his time with the Thunder… 

“Oh, I loved Trenton. The fans, the place, the atmosphere, everything about that place I just loved. I mean everywhere from the front office to every last fan was nothing but warm and welcoming. Anything you ever needed, if they could help in any way, they would. Very faithful fans. It was a pleasure to actually get a chance to play there.”

Still only 32 years old, there had been rumors as recently as last year that he might return to professional baseball.  Oddly enough, those rumors were preceeded by one that he was contemplating a career in professional wrestling.

Mike’s Vote Goes To: Virgil Chevalier.  He deserves to be on the team somewhere, and if he isn’t going to be on there as an outfielder, then let’s stick him behind the plate… 

Other Thunder Catchers: Pedro Gonzalez, Tim McConell, Joe Perona, Matt Brown, Alex Delgado, Dana LeVangie, Jeff Martin, Richie Borrero, Bill Haselman (rehab), Chris Madonna, Chad Epperson, Damian Sapp, Shea Hillenbrand, Luis Rodriguez, Mike Figga, Kelly Ramos, Michael Rose, Andy Dominique, Andrew Larned, Dan Mooney, Omar Fuentes, Dave Parrish, Sandy Madera, Nathan Griffin, Jason Brown, Omir Santos, Tommy Rojas, P.J. Pilittere, J.T. LaFountain, Dan Conway, Joe Muich

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com 


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