Monday, July 28, 2014

Minor League Monday - Luke Sable, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

Luke Sable appears on a badly mis-cut version of card #25 in the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers team set. Looks like Sable and several of the other players were photographed the same day during infield drills.

A 28th round draft pick for Texas in 1987, Sable finally made it to Charlotte in 1989. He stayed with the team in 1990 after they moved up from A ball to A+ ball.

Luke made 231 plate appearances for Charlotte over 67 games in 1990. He posted a .267 batting average and a .339 on-base percentage. In spite of striking out more than he walked, Sable was not a real power threat. He hit just five doubles and five triples. Luke's first home run as a pro ballplayer had yet to make an appearance.

Sable was pretty versatile in the field. He played at third base, shortstop, and second base during the 1990 season. In eight games at shortstop Luke posted a .914 fielding percentage. In 11 games at second base he did the best, a .979 fielding percentage. In 22 games at third base he managed a .946 fielding percentage.

1990 had not been an end of the line type season for Luke Sable but it wasn't a break through season either. As a 28th round pick, he needed a break through season soon if he was hoping to continue his climb up the minor league ladder to Arlington.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Senators Saturday - Ken McMullen, 1967.

Ken McMullen, shown here on card 47 of the 1967 Topps set, was entering his third full season with the Senators in 1967. He pretty much had the third base spot secured and was looking to keep it. Ken managed to do just that.

Over the 146 games he appeared in, Ken McMullen played 1,312 innings at third base and none anywhere else on defense. He made just 18 errors in 519 chances for a .965 fielding percentage. That was good for ten points above the league average. Ken's range continued to be significantly higher than the league average as well. Those numbers weren't in Brooks Robinson territory but they were good enough for McMullen to be considered one of the top defensive third basemen in the Majors.

On offense Ken made 619 trips to the plate. That was easily the most on the team, even more than Frank Howard. Ken's .245 batting average was third best among Washington regulars and his 46 walks managed to bump his on-base percentage up to .301. McMullen still had moderate power, his .377 slugging percentage was tied for second best in the starting lineup. He hit 22 doubles (best on the team), two triples, and 16 home runs (best on the team among players not named Frank Howard).

All in all, 1967 was a successful season for Ken McMullen. He continued his great defense and his production at the plate continued as well. The Senators would have liked to see more pop from him offensively but it was nice to have third base covered well for the past three seasons. Things were looking up. If he could avoid injury and stay consistent, Ken McMullen and the Senators had nothing to worry about at third base in 1968.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

1978 Topps - Bert Campaneris.

Bert Campaneris, shown here on card 260 of the 1978 Topps set, was entering his second year with the Rangers in 1978. His 1977 season had been a bit a of a let down as far as his speed on the basepaths but was otherwise exactly what the Rangers hoped for when they brought him over from Oakland. Campy was hoping to improve in his second campaign as the Rangers starting shortstop. The season wouldn't turn out the way Bert or the Rangers hoped.

Campaneris ended up playing 728.2 innings at shortstop in the course of the season. He committed 20 errors over the course of the season for a .954 fielding percentage. That was a significant drop from 1977 and ten points below the league average. More distressingly, Campy's range decreased noticeably.

Things weren't any better at the plate. In 319 trips to the plate Bert managed to hit just .186 and post an on-base percentage of only .245. Both were drastic drops from 1977 and the lowest among the starting lineup.

Bert Campaneris was in trouble. The Rangers signed him to be their starting shortstop but he was now facing the very real prospect of losing the spot to Nelson Norman or Jim Mason. Both had already poached playing time from him as the season progressed and Bert's bat didn't come around. Going into Spring Training in 1979 he needed to make some drastic improvement or he was going to lose his starting gig for the first time in his career.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Senators Saturday - Barry Moore, 1967.

For the second week in a row we see a Senator sporting a huge glove. Barry Moore and his glove appear on card 11 of the 1967 Topps set this week.

The Senators had high hopes for Moore when they called him up in 1966. The lefty had some control issues but if he could conquer them he had a lot of potential. He did well enough in 1966 to get a second season in 1967.

Primarily a starter, Moore appeared in 27 games for Washington in 1967. All but one of those appearances were starts. His 3.76 ERA was almost identical to the previous season and only good enough for fourth among the starting rotation. In 143.2 innings pitched Barry tallied a 1.378 WHIP, a significant drop from the year before. His control problems persisted though. He walked 71 batters while striking out 75. He also hit three opposing batsmen and uncorked five wild pitches. He ended the season with a 7-11 record.

The Senators pitching was improving. In years past Barry Moore might have been the number two guy in the rotation with his 1967 numbers. By 1967 his stats were good enough to keep him on the staff until a better alternative came along but not good enough to nail down a spot. If Moore wanted to make the Washington rotation his permanent home he needed to get the control issues worked out and cut the number of walks.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Minor bright spot.

I don't usually get too excited about minor league prospects. If you're a regular reader of Minor League Monday you'll know why. Most of these guys never make it to the Majors. However, the 2014 season has been so dark in Texas that any points of light are brighter than otherwise.

Joey Gallo, shown here on card 62 of the 2013 Topps Heritage Minor League set, is one of those minor league glimmers of hope for the Rangers. Yesterday in the All-Star Futures game he showed why.

By all accounts the futures game was a pitching duel. The scoring ended in the sixth. The final runs were put on the board by Gallo when he hammered a two run blast into the second deck of Target Field. That gave the U.S. a 3-2 lead that would hold up. Gallo was named the Futures Game MVP for his performance.

Home runs are Joey's stock and trade. He's got 31 of them this year and is in a tie for the minor league lead. That's got some folks calling for his promotion straight from Double A to the Bigs. Not a good idea. Joey Gallo's tape measure shots may be fun to watch but they're not going to save the Rangers 2014 campaign. Along with his long balls he also strikes out a lot. Major League pitchers would love that aspect of his game. Better to let him continue to season and develop so that when he does hit Arlington in a couple of years he does so with maximum impact.

Hopefully Joey Gallo will shine in Arlington sometime in the near future. For now he is a Double A star whose glimmer reaches from Frisco to Arlington and gives fans a little bit of light in the dark.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Senators Saturday - Ken Hamlin, 1966.

Can't help but notice the glove Ken Hamlin is wearing on card number 69 of the 1966 Topps set. That thing looks huge, especially for a middle infielder.

By 1966 Hamlin was in his fifth year with the Washington Senators organization. Two of those years were spent in the minors and two in platooning situations. Ken had yet to break into a regular starting role with the team.

1966 was not going to be Ken Hamlin's year either. With the arrival of Bab Saverine at second and with Ed Brinkman holding down the starting shortstop gig, Ken was relegated to backup duty and saw his playing time decrease from the previous season.

Hamlin played in just 51 games in the field for Washington, all but one of those appearances was at second base. Over the 356 innings he played at second, Ken made eight errors and ended the season with a .963 fielding percentage at that position. That was well below the league average .975 fielding percentage.

Hamlin got a few pinch-hitting chances to go along with his play in the field. Over all in 1966 he appeared in 66 games for the Senators in 1966 and made 180 trips to the plate. His .215 batting average and .267 on-base percentage were not calculated to help get him more consideration as a regular. Both were significant drops from the previous season.

After five seasons it was obvious there was no future for Ken Hamlin with the Washington Senators. In fact, there wasn't any future for him as a pro player. Ken hung up the spikes after the 1966 season and went to work on other ventures. He ran a boys camp and served as a high school baseball coach among other things in his post-baseball life.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

1978 Topps - Tommy Boggs.

1977 had been an ugly season for Tommy Boggs, shown here on card 518 of the 1978 Topps set. The former first round draft pick struggled at both Triple A and during a brief stint in the Majors. After two brief stints with Texas in 1976 and 1977 Boggs still had a lot of work to do if he was going to stick in the Big Leagues.

That work wouldn't happen with Texas. On December 8, 1977 Boggs became part of the biggest trade of the season. Tommy joined Bert Blyleven, Adrian Devine, Eddie Miller, Tom Grieve, and Ken Henderson on the outbound half of the trade.

Landing in Atlanta, Boggs would spend most of the rest of his career in the Braves organization. He would return for a cameo with the Rangers in 1985 to finish things up but his shot at a regular spot on the Rangers roster was long past by that point.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Minor League Monday - Steve Rowley, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

Steve Rowley, shown here on card 24 of the Star Charlotte Rangers team set, was a 10th round draft pick for Texas in the 1989 draft.

Rowley started his pro career in 1989 with the Butte Copper Kings in Rookie ball. His 4.12 ERA and 1.508 WHIP were not promising signs but he got bumped up to Single A and started the 1990 season with the Gastonia Rangers.

Posting a 2.55 ERA and a 1.377 WHIP over 81.1 innings with Gastonia earned Rowley a mid-season promotion to A+ ball and the Charlotte Rangers.

Strictly a starter, Steve would make five appearances and pitch 23.2 innings for Charlotte in 1990. His ERA more than doubled to 5.32. That was because he issued 21 walks en route to a 1.690 WHIP. The seven strikeouts he recorded didn't even come close to balancing the books. Not surprisingly, Rowley ended the season 0-4 with Charlotte.

Even though he was struggling with the transition to a higher level of play, the Rangers left Rowley at A+ ball for the 1991 season. If he was going to be able to improve he would. If not, well it's better to find out sooner rather than later with a limited amount of roster spots in the farm system.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Senators Saturday - Mike McCormick, 1966.

Mike McCormick, shown here on card 118 of the 1966 Topps set, was in his second year with Washington in 1966. The Senators were still hoping for a return to Mike's 1960 form when he led the National League in ERA. 1966 was not the year.

McCormick appeared in 41 games for Washington in 1966, 32 of those games were starts. That put him second in starts behind only Pete Richert in the starting rotation. The 216 innings McCormick pitched were also second to Richert on the the pitching staff.

In those 216 innings Mike compiled a 3.46 ERA and a 1.130 WHIP. Once again he came in second to Richert, this time in ERA among the starting rotation. Eight of McCormick's starts were complete games and three of those were shutouts. He also struck out 101 opposing batters but did issued 51 free passes. For his efforts Mike ended the season with an 11-14 record.

Mike McCormick hadn't had a bad season in 1966. A little more run support and he might have been able to end the year with a winning record. He needed to get the ERA and WHIP down a little more though, if he wanted to stick in the top of the rotation.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Potential re-treads.

Ok, the Rangers are in sad shape and everybody knows it. 14 plus players on the Disabled List with no end in sight to the carnage. The only question seems to be who is going to come up lame or injured next.

The the number of players down and hurting it's been all hands on deck recently to keep a team in the field. No stone is left unturned and no potential warm body overlooked.

Having said that, I was surprised a week or so ago when the team called up former Ranger Carlos Pena from Triple A to man first base. Pena started with Texas when he first broke into the Bigs but was displaced by Mark Teixiera and traded. Now he's back in what seems to be the twilight of his career after losing his job with Tampa Bay and failing to stick with a couple of other clubs in recent years. I have nothing at all against Carlos and wish him well but the move speaks to the dire straits the team finds themselves in.

One thing's for sure, if the roster doesn't stabilize soon, Carlos Pena won't be the only surprise move. Perhaps Hank Blalock, shown here on 2003 Topps Traded and Rookies Future Phenoms card FP-HB, will be the next former Ranger to get a call.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

1978 Topps - Bert Blyleven.

Bert Blyleven, shown here on card 131 of the 1978 Topps set, had a great season in 1977, including a no-hitter on September 22nd against the California Angels. That didn't mean he was a lock for the Rangers pitching staff in 1978.

On December 8, 1977 the Rangers pulled off a four team trade involving the Mets, Pirates, and Braves. As part of the deal Texas sent Bert to Pittsburgh; Tommy Boggs, Adrian Devine, and Eddie Miller to the Braves; and Tom Grieve and Ken Henderson to the Mets. In return the Rangers got Nelson Norman and Al Oliver from the Pirates and Jon Matlack from the Mets.

After just two years Bert Blyleven's time in Texas was at an end. He would go on to pitch in the Major Leagues for another 15 seasons with four more teams.