News of the Midwest League

A few stories that caught my eye over the last few days.

Consider this one from Fort Wayne a minor surprise:

TinCaps extend pact with Padres
The baseball club announced Thursday it signed a two-year extension to be the Low-A affiliate of the Padres’ organization.

TinCaps President Mike Nutter said he was excited to continue the relationship as the club nears the end of its 12th season with the Padres. During that time, the team is 830-828, according to the Padres.

“They have been a big part of this franchise’s success over the last several years, and we’ve really enjoyed working with the player development staff,” Nutter said.
What kind of decision was it?
Randy Smith, Padres director of player development, said re-signing with the TinCaps was a “no-brainer.”

“The entire environment, including Mike Nutter’s staff, Parkview Field and the city of Fort Wayne, is conducive to player development,” he said.

Minor league teams are allowed to sign two- or four-year contracts with major league affiliates, Nutter said. While the Padres initially wanted to sign a longer deal, Nutter said the team felt the two-year extension provided the most flexibility.
Why was this a minor surprise?
Recent speculation centered on the possibility the team might look to sign with a more regional affiliate, but when the Chicago White Sox opted to stay in North Carolina after signing a four-year deal with Kannapolis on July 2, there were not many regional options left for the TinCaps.
Turning the affiliate page to Kane County.
Among the select merchandise recently on super sale at the Cougars’ Elfstrom Stadium team store is a green and gold Oakland A’s visor for $2.

Fans of Kane County’s parent club might be wise to snatch the almost-hats up. They could be a collector’s item by Opening Day 2011.

The Cougars still are pondering an affiliate change for the first time since leaving the Florida Marlins for the A’s before the 2003 season. General manager Jeff Sedivy and other club officials continue to mull their options and expect to make a final decision in the next few weeks.

“We’re not ruling anything out as far as going back with Oakland,” Sedivy said, “but we’re still exploring what’s out there.”

A tampering clause prevents Sedivy from naming names, though fans should know the Cougars are guaranteed Major League affiliation as they conclude their 20th season in Geneva.

Suspend any hopes of seeing the newest Cubs and White Sox in training, however. The Cubs are in bliss with Peoria – the Cougars’ in-state rival in the Midwest League – while the Kannapolis (N.C.) Intimidators announced in July a four-year extension as the White Sox Low-A affiliate.

Cedar Rapids is in its 18th season as a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim farm club, representing the longest partnership in the Midwest League.

Speaking of the Kernels...Here is a look at their playoff chances.
[W]ith the Midwest League playoffs next week, how are the Cedar Rapids Kernels playing and what are their postseason chances?

Let’s give the wishy washy answer in both cases of “so-so.”

The Kernels beat the Burlington Bees last night, 4-1, to go 2-0 in September. On the other hand, both wins came again a Burlington club that has the second-worst record in full-season minor league baseball.

And the Kernels’ August record was a less-than-awe-inspiring 13-18.

“It is what it is,” said Kernels Manager Bill Mosiello. “We’ve been where we’ve been, and now we’ve got to play better.”

Against whom is yet another good question. Cedar Rapids has home-field advantage in the first round because of its first-half championship, but doesn’t know what Western Division club it will face in a best-of-3 series that begins on the road Wednesday night.

It could be Clinton, Kane County or Beloit. Quad Cities also is in the playoffs via its second-place division finish in the first half, and has all but wrapped the best overall record, which is significant because that’s worth home-field advantage in the second round.

But there’s a LONG way to go before that.
Finally, from Dayton, there is this note:
When new third baseman David Vidal took the field Thursday, Sept. 2, the Dayton Dragons set a single-season franchise record for players used. Fifty-five have appeared, five more than last season.

They have made 81 roster changes and just five players — catcher Mark Fleury, third baseman Frank Pfister, outfielder Alex Oliveras and pitchers Jacob Johnson and Junior Martinez — have been on the roster all season.

Some, such as relief pitcher Donnie Joseph and first baseman Chris Richburg, outgrew this level and were gone quickly. Others, such as shortstop Didi Gregorius and second baseman Henry Rodriguez, hung around until the final week before receiving their promotions to Lynchburg.

“You look at Lynchburg and who’s playing up there and you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s a pretty talented team.’ And most of them were here in Dayton — this year,” Dragons manager Todd Benzinger said.

The Dragons were 30-39 in the first half, then fell apart in the second half partially due to the many call-ups.

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