Saturday, September 13, 2008

Miracle, Twins extended affiliation

Scott Baker

The Fort Myers Miracle and the Minnesota Twins announced Friday that they have expended their affiliation agreement for an additional four year, running through 2012.

"We are delighted to extend our affiliation with Fort Myers," said Twins Director of Minor League Operations Jim Rantz. "[Fort Myers president] Linda McNabb and her staff have created a great environment for Minor League Baseball and give our players top-notch facilities and treatment.”

The Twins value their farm system and currently bost a number of former Fort Myers Miracle players on their Roster including the M&M boys Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, outfielder Jason Kubul, center fielder Denard Span, and the entire Twins starting rotations of Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Glenn Perkins, Kevin Slowey and Francisco Liriano.

Former Twin prospect and Naples resident Jeff Smith took the Miracle to the FSL championship game in 2008, and the team has reached the post season twice in the last three years.

Aside from reliever Pat Neshek, who is currently on the DL, a look at the Twins roster reveals names like Jesse Crain, Jose Mijares, Alexi Casilla, Matt Tolbert and Mike Cuddyer, all of which spent developmental time with the Fort Myers Miracle during their career.

Additionally the Twins have been active in the Fort Myers Community, sponsoring free youth baseball camps which start in January and run through the beginning of spring training, plus winter caravan visits to Fort Myers local hospitals and retirement homes. The Twins have an lease with the Lee County Sportsplex that runs through 2020 with two five-year extensions that could see the Twins in Fort Myers for spring training through the year 2030.

The Miracle are a member of the Goldklang Group, which provides Operational consulting and Management services in all areas relating to sports franchise and event acquisition, promotion and operation.

USA Today announced their minor league player of the year and it should come as no surprise to the informed minor league fan that they chose Tampa Bay prospect David Price for the honor. Price posted an 11-0 record with a 1.87 era in 15 starts at High-A Vero Beach (FSL) and AA Montgomery before earning a promotion to the AAA Durham Bulls. He was 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in the regular season for Durham and 1-0 with a 3.27 era in the Governors' Cup playoffs. The first overall selection of the Rays in the 2007 amateur draft received 57% of the over 23,000 online votes cast by fans at the USA Today and Sports Weekly website.

The same organization named pitcher Mike McCardell as the Twins Minor League Player of the year. McCardell posted a 9-4 record with a 2.86 ERA in 22 games with the Low-A Beloit Snappers in 2008. He walked 25, and struck out 139 in 135.1 innings pitched. The 23 year old native of West Chester, Pa, will be one of the players that will fill in the Miracle starting rotation in 2009, but don't expect the big right hander to stay around long if he continues to pitch the way he did for the Snappers.

Cole Devries, Alex Burnett, Deolis Guerra and Matt Fox will all likely start the 2009 season in AA. Players like McCardell, David Bromberg and Steve Hirschfield will be critical to the Miracle's success in the upcoming season.

While some have questioned how Twins phenom Ben Revere could have been bypassed for this honor, both players certainly deserve the recognition, and it is good to see McCardell getting his fair of the limelight.

McCardell was named the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the month for June of 2008, as he went 4-0 in five starts while posting a 2.45 era and .87 WHIP during that period.

Rather unfortunately, McCardell will not be at this year's Fall Instructional League, having attended the camp last season. You will have to wait until Spring Training to get a look a the next Miracle ace.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Daytona defeats Miracle, 7-3 to capture FSL title

Johnny Woodard

Fort Myers 3 at Daytona 7

W: A. Cashner (1-0, 0.00); L: A. Burnett (1-1, 3.38)
HR: FTM: J. Woodard (1). DAY: J. Adduci (1), Y. Carter (1).

The Daytona Cubs were bound and determined not to wait one more day for a Florida State League Championship. As a result, they wasted little time defeating the Fort Myers Miracle, 7-3 to take the title.

I said I would be happy if the Miracle got past Dunedin and I stand by that. Great job boys!

The Miracle actually got on to the scoreboard first, with Johnny Woodard putting one over the right field wall in the 2nd inning.

Daytona took it right back with Yusef Carter going yard in the bottom half of the stanza. John Mota would follow that up with a single, and be plated by Darwin Barney's double. Tony Thomas smacked a line drive out to center that scored Barney. He'd try to stretch it for a double and failed, finishing the inning with the Cubs up 3-1.

James Adduci took a home run off Miracle starter Alex Burnett as well, putting his over the left field fence just to be a little different. Ty Wright singled and advanced to second on a error by Yancarlos Ortiz as he and Wilson Ramos attempted to take out Wright, who chose to steal 2nd. Following a ground out to Blake Lalli that advanced the runner to 3rd, Russ Canzier hit a sac-fly to bring Wright in, for the fifth Cubs run.

Back-to-back doubles by Ramos and Whit Robbins gave the Miracle another run. Edward Ovalle would single Robbins to 3rd, and after Woodard went down on strikes, Garrett Olson hit into a sac double-play that plated Robbins.

The score would stand at 5-3 until the bottom of the sixth when the Cubs tacked on two more. Steve Clevenger doubled and moved to 3rd on a wild pitch by Spencer Steedley. A walk to Carter signaled a pitching change for the Miracle, with Ozzie Sosa coming in to replace Steedley. Mota singled to drive in Clevenger, and Barney followed that up with a double that brought in Carter. Jose Lugo would be brought, the second pitching change of the inning, to get Adduci to ground out before the Cubs could add a few more runs.

In the end, the Cubs out hit the Miracle 48 to 25 and it was their prowess with a bat that made the difference.

Fort Myer recorded five hits in the final match of the contest with Steve Singleton, Ramos, Edward Ovalle and Johnny Woodard all going 1-for-4 and Robbins going 1-for-2. Sing, Ramos and Robbins all had extra base hits, Woodard had the home run and Robbins, Woodard and Olson had the RBIs.

The Miracle conclude what can only be considered a successful 2008 season under field manager Jeff Smith. With Fall Instructional League and Arizona Fall League on the way, will be taking a look at some of the prospects you can expect to see in a Miracle uniform in 2009, so don't go away!

Again, thanks to the Minnesota Twins for providing us with a great group of players, and to the staff of the Fort Myers Miracle for being such wonderful hosts at Hammond Stadium.

Congratulations to the Cubs who captured their second Championship since the turn of the century.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Miracle avoid sweep, force game four

Rene Tosoni

Fort Myers 5 at Daytona 3

W: C. Gutierrez (1-1, 9.00); L: J. Russell (0-1, 6.75); SV: A. Slama (3)
HR: FTM: E. Ovalle (1), W. Robbins (1). DAY: T. Thomas (1).

It seems the Miracle weren't quite as done in as some bloggers seemed to think. Indeed, the Fort Myers Miracle will live to see game four of the best of five series against Daytona, batting their way past the Cubs at Jackie Robinson Stadium Monday night.

Juan Portes would lead off with a double in the top of the 1st and Edward Ovalle smacked a home run over the left field fence, giving the Miracle a 2-0 lead. Rene Tosoni would follow it up with a single, but Wilson Ramos hit into a double play and Whit Robbins ground out to send the Cubs up to bat.

The Miracle would give the ball to Deolis Guerra, who would in turn keep the Cubs off the board until the bottom of the third, when Tony Thomas singled and stole 2nd. He'd be given 3rd when Guerra unleashed a wild pitch, and James Adduci doubled him in, cutting the score in half. Guerra would walk Ty Wright before getting Blake Lalli and Russ Canzier out on fly balls, leaving two men stranded.

Tosoni lead off the top of the fourth with a singled and Ramos doubled him in. Robbins then rocked one out of the park for two more runs, giving the Miracle a 5-1 lead.

It would stay that way until the bottom of the fifth when Darwin Barney singled and Thomas put one out of the park for the Cubs, making it 5-3. Adduci would go down on strikes and Wright would walk before Jose Lugo was brought in to replace Guerra. Lugo would take pinch hitter Marquez Smith out on strikes and induce Canzier to ground into a force out to end the inning.

Carlos Gutierrez replaced Lugo in the bottom of the the sixth and worked one inning, walking one and striking out one before giving way to Blair Erickson. Erickson allowed 2 hits and a walk over the next 1.2 innings while fanning three but keeping the Cubs off the board. Anthony Slama would strike out four, allowing a hit and a pair of walks in 1.1 innings to finish off the contest for the Miracle.

Daytona's James Russell gave up all five runs for the Cubs on 8 hits while striking out 3 over 5.2 innings. Guerra would also give up 8 hits, plus a walk, while fanning 3, but his would come over 4.1 innings and he'd allow only three runs.

Tosoni was 2-for-3 with a run and a walk, while Ovalle and Ramos were both 2-for-4 with a run each, Ovalle with 2 RBIs and Ramos with a double and 2 RBIs. Robbins finished up 1-for-4 with the home run and a pair of RBIs. Portes was also 1-for-4 with a run, but added a double instead of a yarder.

So the Miracle push it to game four Tuesday night at 7:05 PM. Alex Burnett (1-0, 0.00) will go up against the Cubs Marcos Mateo (0-1, 2.45) on the mound. The Miracle faithful can listen in to the play-by-play action with the Voice of the Miracle, Sean Fox, on WMYR AM-1410 and WCNZ AM-1660 starting a 6:50 PM.


* Yankees, Yankees everywhere: The Scranton/WB Yankees will take on the the Devil Rays affiliated Durham Bulls for the International League's Governor's Cup. In the Eastern League, the Yankee affiliated Trenton Thunder will seek a championship against the Cleveland affiliated Akron Aeros.

* LEN3 lists Wilson Ramos as his top prospect pick for the Twins this year. Ramos would, in my honest opinion, benefit from a bit of plate discipline. As Alex put it "He hits into a shit load of double plays." In part, I think you have to look at which prospects are in a position to help the Twins the soonest, so I'd have to go with either Anthony Swarzak or Luke Hughes as the top prospect overall. But then, we all have our own agendas in filling out lists, don't we?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Revere Named Brodie Trophy Player of the Year

Ben Revere

Beloit Snappers Press Release

Ben Revere did it all for the Snappers in 2008 and was named by the coaching staff as their Brodie Trophy Player of the Year. Ben was given the award before the Snappers took on the Burlington Bees on August 30th.

Revere ended up leading the league in batting average (.375) and on-base percentage (.428), was second in stolen bases (44) and third in slugging percentage (.497). Ben also led the Snappers in average, hits (129), doubles (17), triples (10), stolen bases, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

Last week, Revere was named by the 14 managers of the Midwest League as Most Valuable Player and as Prospect of the Year. Ben was also tabbed a starter on the MWL’s Postseason All-Star Team.

In last month’s issue of Baseball America, Ben was also named by the MWL managers as best in the league in four different categories. The four categories include:

- Best Batting Prospect
- Best Strike Zone Judgment
- Fastest Baserunner
- Most Exciting Player

Revere also received honors earlier this year as Co-Topps Midwest League Player of the Month for the month of May along with Kane County’s Craig Italiano. Revere picked up the honors after hitting a league-best .433 with 11 doubles, five triples, one home run, 18 RBIs and 14 steals during that time span.

Ben was drafted by the Twins in the 1st round (28th overall) of the 2007 First-Year Player draft. He spent the 2007 season as a member of the GCL Twins, where he hit .325 with 10 triples, 46 runs and 21 stolen bases.

Cubs put Miracle in 2-0 hole in best-of-five series

Whit Robbins

Daytona 9 at Fort Myers 1

W: J. Jackson (1-0, 0.00); L: C. Devries (1-1, 4.22)
HR: DAY: B. Lalli (1).

The Daytona Cubs wasted no time sending the Fort Myers Miracle packing, taking five runs off Cole Devries in the 3rd inning in route to a 9-1 win, and a 2-0 game lead, in the best of five Florida State League Championship series.

The Miracle will have to win three straight at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Dayonta Beach in order to win their first Championship since their relocation back to Fort Myers.

Ryan Harvey tripled in the top of the 3rd and scored on a Jonathan Mota ground out. Darwin Barney doubled and Tony Thomas took a walk. James Adduci singled to drive in Barney, and following a ground out to Ty Wright that plated Thomas, Blake Lalli put one over the right center field fence, scoring two to make it 5-0 Cubs.

Joe Testa would replace Devries in the top of the 5th. After getting Thomas to ground out and taking Adduci down on strikes, he'd give up a walk to Wright. Lalli singled, moving Wright to 2nd, and Russ Carter's line drive brought the runner home for the Cubs's sixth of the evening.

Ozzie Sosa allowed a double to Harvey in the top of the sixth, who moved ot 3rd on a Mota ground out. Barney would line out before Thomas singled Harvey in for Daytona's seventh tally.

Matt Williams would come in for the top of te 8th, striking out Steve Clevenger, and getting Harvey to pop out. But Mota and Barney took back-to-back singles, and a throwing error by Danny Santiesteban in right allowed Mota to score making it 8-0.

Jay Jackson allowed only 4 hits to Fort Myers over 5.2 innings. Relievers Jay Ruhlman and Michael Cooper held the Miracle to only a pair of walks in the next 1.1 innings, although Cooper gave up a couple of wild pitches that moved Edward Ovalle all the way to 3rd before he'd find a pair of strikes outs to retire the Fort Myers.

Todd Blackford replaced Cooper in the 8th and walked Steve Singleton. Rene Tosoni would go down on strikes, but passed ball by Clevenger moved Sing to 2nd. Wilson Ramos ground out advanced the runner to 3rd and Whit Robbins singled him in to keep the Miracle from being shut out. It was too little a rally, too late.

Wright singled off Williams in the 9th and two outs later, allowed a single to Clevenger. He'd hit Harvey with a pitch to load the bags, and then hit Mota as well, forcing in Wright to finish off the Cubs' scoring.

The Miracle would get nothing off Dustin Sasser in the ninth, with Juan Portes flying out to end the contest.

Singleton finished off the game 1-for-3 with a walk and a run, while Rene Tosoni, Wilson Ramos, Robins and Yancarlos Ortiz were all 1-for-4.

Unless the Miracle can find some road mojo of their own, the Cubs can sweep the series tomorrow night in Daytona. Game time is 7:05 PM and the contest can be heard live on WMYR AM-1410 and WCNZ AM-1660 with the Voice of the Miracle, Sean Fox calling all the play-by-play action.

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