15th Anniversary Team: Left-handed Starter
Opening Day for the 2014 Atlantic League season is just over a month away, and the voting for Long Island’s 15th Anniversary Team continues to heat up! Last week’s race for the “Flock 15” designated hitter was extremely close, so much so that voting came down to the last day. Before we get to this week’s vote, there is some other exciting news to discuss.
Saturday at Bethpage Ballpark marks the Ducks official “Opening Day of Ticket Sales!” For the first time this year, fans will be able to purchase individual game tickets for the upcoming season. You will want to arrive at the ballpark early, as there is a full day of fun-filled entertainment planned. The carnival-like atmosphere will begin at 8:00 a.m., leading up to the box office opening at 10:00. There will be live music, complimentary snacks and beverages, special appearances from QuackerJack and Peppa Pig, star of the Nick Jr. show “Peppa Pig,” autographs from Buddy Harrelson, Kevin Baez and Dan Lyons, and the debut of a brand-new Ducks Inflatable Slide in addition to the Bounce House.
In case you missed it, the first fans have already started lining up for tickets. The Czark Family of Setauket showed up at Bethpage Ballpark an amazing 30 hours before tickets went on sale. Even News 12 Long Island, Verizon FiOS 1 News and Fox 5 New York made to trip to Central Islip to report on this dedicated family of Ducks diehards!
CLICK HERE to view a story from Verizon FiOS 1 News
With all the excitement of Ducks baseball fresh in our minds, it’s time to look towards the next ballot in the 15th Anniversary Team voting. This week, we are taking a look at the best left-handed starting pitchers to grace the mound for the black and orange. The five nominees have combined to win three Atlantic League championships in a Ducks uniform and earn four Atlantic League All-Star Game selections. Here are the nominees:
Though Cate only spent one season with the Ducks, the fewest of any nominee, the season he had is hard to forget. The former sixth round pick of the Seattle Mariners pitched on Long Island in 2009. That year, Cate went 13-5 with an impressive 3.28 ERA while striking out 84 batters over 129.0 innings of work. Additionally, the BYU alum only walked 31 batters over his 24 games (22 starts), leading to a strong 1.16 WHIP. In August, Cate was able to parlay his Ducks success into a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays where he was assigned to Double-A New Hampshire. The southpaw pitched two more seasons in independent baseball before retiring in 2011 with a 54-42 record, a career 3.80 ERA and 702 strikeouts in over 10 seasons.
Davis is one of three nominees that played in parts of four seasons with the Ducks over his career. Additionally, the 2004 Atlantic League All-Star is one of only three nominees that won a championship with Long Island, doing so that very same year. The Florida native played from 2004-05 and then again from 2007-08, totaling a 32-22 record with a 4.17 ERA. Davis’ first two years with the Flock were arguably his best. The former draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds amassed a 3.67 ERA in 2004 followed by a 3.76 ERA in 2005. The lefty earned a contract midseason in 2004 with the New York Yankees and pitched for Triple-A Columbus. However, he returned later that year and was a key contributor in the team’s first-ever championship. Davis, who played one season in the Major Leagues (2001 – Reds), finished his Ducks career with 278 strikeouts.
Keisler played two seasons with the Ducks (2010, ’12) and seldom disappointed. The southpaw first came to Long Island in 2010 and immediately experienced success. The former second round draft pick of the New York Yankees went 5-0 with an impressive 3.65 ERA and 43 strikeouts in eight starts. Two years later, after a stint in 2011 with the Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA, Dodgers), Keisler returned to Central Islip and dazzled again. The Texas native went 5-3 with an even more impressive 2.63 ERA in 13 regular season starts. While he missed time during the year pursuing an opportunity abroad, the former big leaguer returned to form in the playoffs. During the 2012 championship run, Keisler was Long Island’s Game One starter and allowed just three earned runs over 12 and two-thirds innings with 13 strikeouts in two playoff starts. Overall, Keisler finished his Ducks career with a 10-3 record, a 3.02 ERA and a championship ring.
Leek, like Davis, also played parts of four seasons with the Ducks, with his four closing out his professional baseball career. The Mineola native and MacArthur High School alum is the Ducks career leader in wins with 40 and set a franchise record by making 28 starts in 2008. Additionally, the two-time Atlantic League All-Star (’08 and ’10) posted a 3.78 ERA over his four seasons on Long Island. Leek, who spent parts of seven seasons in the Tigers, Cardinals and Dodgers organizations, came to Long Island in 2007 and was instantly successful. He went 5-1 that season with a 2.33 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) and earned a midseason contract with the Toronto Blue Jays organization where he pitched at Triple-A. The following three seasons, Leek posted win totals of 12, 11, and 12 respectively, including a masterful 12-3 record in 2008. Leek also leads all nominees in strikeouts (356) and innings pitched (581.1) with the Ducks.
A name that resonated well among Ducks fans, Pulsipher certainly made an impact in his time with the Flock. The former ‘Generation K’ member of the New York Mets spent parts of four seasons with the Ducks (2004-07). His first season was where the southpaw truly made made his mark. In 2004, Pulsipher started 17 games (18 appearances) and posted a 9-5 record with a 3.67 ERA. His efforts earned him an Atlantic League All-Star Game selection as well as a midseason contract with the Seattle Mariners organization. Like Davis though, Pulsipher finished the year in championship-fashion with the Ducks, leading Long Island down the stretch and in the playoffs. Overall, the six-year Major League veteran was 17-10 as a Duck with a 4.17 ERA, and the team reached the playoffs each and every one of his four years.
It seems as though every position on the field has had an outstanding selection of candidates, and the left-handed starter spot is no exception. If you feel that somebody else deserves votes in this category, you can write-in a nominee in the poll below by selecting other and typing in your choice. We hope you cast your votes all week long for the left-handed starter on the “Flock 15” team, and we look forward to seeing you at the ballpark for “Opening Day of Ticket Sales” on Saturday!
Posted on March 21, 2014, in Weekend Debate and tagged 15th Anniversary Team, 2014, Atlantic League, Bethpage Ballpark, Bill Pulsipher, Championship, Flock 15, Lance Davis, Long Island Ducks, Major League Baseball, Randy Keisler, Randy Leek, Troy Cate, Voting. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.