Category Archives: Ducks News

News and Notes as Holidays Approach

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It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving has just about arrived, and the holidays are right around the corner. It seems like just yesterday that the Ducks were playing in their second consecutive Atlantic League Championship Series and fifth in the past seven years. The offseason is officially in full swing for Long Island’s hometown team, as season ticket packages, 10-game mini plans and group ticket outings are all now on sale for the upcoming All-Star Summer.

In short order, the Waddle In Shop will be re-opening for the holiday shopping season. Shortly thereafter, the Ducks Street Team will be heading to local hospitals to hand out donated toys to children in pediatric units. More information on all of that is soon to come on LIDucks.com. For now though, let’s get you caught up on some other news that has surfaced among some Ducks alumni as well as around the rest of the Atlantic League.


2009 DUCK ADDED TO MLB COACHING STAFF
Jim-Brower

Though his time win the Flock was short, Jim Brower is still a part of the Long Island Ducks alumni family. The right-handed pitcher joined the Flock during the 2009 season and would appear in seven games out of the bullpen. He earned one save and pitched eight innings without yielding a single earned run. Brower allowed five hits and three walks while striking out five and helped the Flock to the Second Half Liberty Division title under manager Gary Carter. Prior to joining the Ducks, he had accrued nine seasons of Major League experience with eight different teams, including the New York Yankees in 2007.

After his playing career ended following the 2010 season in Italy, Brower moved into the coaching ranks. He joined the Kansas City Royals organization as a pitching coach in the minor leagues, where he remained through 2015. In 2016, he joined the Chicago Cubs as their Minor League Pitching Coordinator. Now, he has made his return to the big leagues!

The Seattle Mariners announced their Major League coaching staff this week and have brought on Brower as an assistant coach. He will be joining a staff led by manager Scott Servais and featuring former Mariners slugger Edgar Martinez (hitting coach), Mel Stottlemeyer Jr. (pitching coach) and 1998 World Series MVP Scott Brosius (third base coach). He joins the likes of several former Ducks who are coaching in MLB, including Jamie Pogue (Cardinals bullpen catcher), Kimera Bartee (Pirates first base coach) and 2009 Ducks teammate George Lombard (Dodgers first base coach).


JANNIS KEEPS KNUCKLING PAST COMPETITION
Jannis-Scottsdale

We have highlighted 2015 Long Island Ducks pitcher Mickey Jannis at length here on the blog previously. Two years after his impressive first half with the Flock earned him a contract with the New York Mets organization, the right-hander is continuing to impress the baseball world. He has earned another opportunity to represent the Mets in the Arizona Fall League, and he has made six starts thus far with the Scottsdale Scorpions. The soon-to-be 30-year-old has compiled a 2.33 ERA, yielding just seven earned runs in 27 innings. He has given up just 23 hits and five walks as well while striking out 24 batters and holding opponents to a .223 batting average. These numbers come after making 21 starts during the 2017 season with Double-A Binghamton and going 8-7 with a 3.60 ERA, two complete games and 83 strikeouts to 38 walks over 122 and one-third innings.

The on-field success hasn’t been the only news of note for Jannis either. The Nevada native also got married this past weekend to his fiancée, Emily. In a bit of a coincidence, Andrew Barbosa, his teammate with the Ducks in 2015 and with the Mets organization in 2016, also tied the knot this offseason. He was married back in October to his fiancée, Mallory. Barbosa is still continuing his baseball career, as he spent 2017 with Triple-A Colorado Springs in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, appearing in 36 games (four starts). Take a look at the happy couples:

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TWO NEW ATLANTIC LEAGUE MANAGERS HIRED
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Though we are still a ways away from players being signed for the 2018 Atlantic League season, a pair of teams have already made managerial changes. First, the Sugar Land Skeeters announced at the end of September that Gary Gaetti, who had managed the team since its inaugural 2012 season, would be stepping down from his role. Last week, the team unveiled that his replacement would be 12-year Major League veteran Pete Incaviglia. The new skipper played at the game’s highest level from 1986 through 1998, spending the majority of his time with the Texas Rangers (’86-’90) and reaching the World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1993. He had a brief stint with the Yankees as well in 1997. During his 12 years, he played in 1,284 games and compiled a .246 batting average with 206 homers, 655 RBI, 546 runs and 194 doubles. Since his playing career ended, Incaviglia has gone on to coach and manage for over a decade. The 53-year-old served as the inaugural manager of the Grand Prairie AirHogs in the American Association from 2007-2010 and was the manager of the Laredo Lemurs in the same league from 2012-2016, earning a championship in 2015.

Backman

This week, the New Britain Bees also announced a change in their manager’s seat. Stan Cliburn, who had led the team in its first two seasons of existence, will be replaced by none other than Wally Backman. The fiery skipper had a lengthy 14-year Major League career, highlighted by a World Series championship with the Mets in 1986. He is now the third member of that team to become a full-time Atlantic League manager, joining Bud Harrelson (Ducks, 2000) and Gary Carter (Ducks, 2009). Backman’s MLB career saw him play 1,102 games and accrue a .275 batting average, 240 RBI, 482 runs and 117 stolen bases.  He has since become a long-time manager in the professional baseball ranks, spending 19 years in that role. The 58-year-old has been a skipper in the Chicago White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks and Mets organizations as well as in several independent leagues. He has won three championships as a manager, earning titles with the 1999 Tri-City Posse (Western Baseball League), the 2002 Birmingham Barons (Southern League, AA, White Sox) and the 2007 South Georgia Peanuts (South Coast League).

Welcome to the Atlantic League, Pete and Wally!

Stay tuned to the blog for upcoming news regarding which Ducks and Atlantic League alumni have taken the field to play more baseball this winter. We will have a full report in the coming days.

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Schedule Released; Ducks Acquire Rights of Six Players

2018-Schedule-Email

The 2018 Atlantic League schedule has officially been released, and the Long Island Ducks now know who and when they are playing during the upcoming All-Star Summer. There were many important notes that came out of this year’s schedule release, and if you happened to miss the announcement, let’s summarize some of the key things to know:

  • The 2018 season will feature a 126-game schedule with two 63-game halves.
  • With the addition of the Road Warriors, a league-operated travel team, the Ducks will play 72 home games and 54 road games to make up the 126-game slate (normally 70 home, 70 road, 140 total).
  • The Ducks’ regular season begins on the road against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (for the second year in a row) on Friday, April 27.
  • The 2018 Home Opener for Long Island will be on Friday, May 4 against the Blue Crabs at 6:35 pm.
  • Bethpage Ballpark will host the Atlantic League All-Star Game on Wednesday, July 11 at 6:35 pm.
  • First Liberty Division Championship Series rematch vs. Somerset Patriots: May 1-3 in New Jersey (Home: May 25-27).
  • First Atlantic League Championship Series rematch vs. York Revolution: June 7-10 in Pennsylvania (Home: June 25-28).

The following is the complete 2018 Long Island Ducks Schedule (click to enlarge):

There is so much to look forward to during the Ducks’ 19th season of play, between the increased amount of games played on Long Island, the All-Star Game coming to Central Islip for a third time in franchise history and so much more. Fans can secure their seats for every game now with season ticket packages currently on sale. Here is a timeline of when other ticket options will become available for fans:

Group Ticket Packages & Experiences: Wednesday, November 8 at 10:00 am

10-Game Mini Plans: Monday, November 13 at 10:00 am

Birthday Party Packages: January 2018 (Date TBD)

Promotional Schedule Release & Individual Game Tickets: March 2018 (Dates TBD)


League-Dispersal-Draft-Bluefish

In other league news, the seven clubs returning from the 2017 season all took part in a Dispersal Draft on Wednesday morning. This draft was held to allow teams the opportunity to obtain the 2018 negotiating rights of players whose rights had been controlled by the Bridgeport Bluefish. This included players who were on Bridgeport’s active roster, inactive list, disabled list or had their contracts purchased from the Bluefish during the course of this past season. Those not included were players who had been released or traded by Bridgeport. Rather than having all Bluefish players become free agents and all seven teams battling for their services, teams drafted in order (based on 2017 overall regular season win-loss record) to obtain the rights to desired players they hope to sign for 2018.

The Ducks, with a record of 73-67 in 2017, had the fifth pick in the draft. Three rounds were held for teams to make selections, with additional rounds all optional. Four teams made selections in the fourth round (New Britain, Sugar Land, York and Long Island). The Ducks would make two more selections after the fourth round, while the Bees made four additional selections. Let’s take a look at the six players whose negotiating rights Long Island obtained during the Bluefish Player Dispersal Draft:

FIRST ROUND: DANIEL FIELDS (OF)
Fields

Fields brings a little bit of everything to the table should the Ducks eventually sign him. The outfielder played in 85 games for Bridgeport in 2017 and showcased an ability to get on base as well as some power. He compiled a .297 batting average and 88 hits to go along with a .387 on-base percentage and an .873 OPS. The 26-year-old finished the season with 12 home runs, 51 RBI, 54 runs scored, 18 doubles and 37 walks. Although Fields did not possess tremendous speed (one triple, one stolen base) and was a bit strikeout-prone (90 K’s) in 2017, he has 36 triples and 93 stolen bases in 787 career games. Defensively, Fields made just three errors in 63 games played in the outfield last year and posted a .990 fielding percentage in his seven seasons of affiliated baseball before joining the Atlantic League. The Detroit native reached the Major Leagues with his hometown Tigers in 2015, picking up a double and a run scored in his lone big league game. He spent six seasons in the Tigers organization before splitting 2016 in the White Sox and Dodgers’ systems, reaching Triple-A with both.

SECOND ROUND: VINNIE PESTANO (RHP)
Pestano

Like Fields, Pestano is also a former Major Leaguer. The right-handed reliever has six seasons of MLB time with the Cleveland Indians (2010-14) and Los Angeles Angels (2014-15). In 223 career appearances, he accrued an impressive 2.98 ERA, 11 saves and 244 strikeouts in 202 and two-thirds innings, good for a 10.8 K/9 ratio. The 32-year-old impressed out of Bridgeport’s bullpen in 2017, pitching in 26 games and going 1-1 with a 3.25 ERA, one save and 30 strikeouts to just five walks in 27 and two-thirds innings. With the Bluefish bidding for a playoff berth, he tossed 10 consecutive scoreless appearances from August 16 to September 7 spanning a total of 11 and one-third innings. The California native also threw two scoreless innings at Bethpage Ballpark, striking out three. Prior to joining Bridgeport, Pestano made eight appearances with the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pa. in 2016, yielding four runs in 10 and two-thirds innings while striking out 16 and walking one. Not to mention, he was once referenced in an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” by Ted Mosby (Season 8, Episode 4)!

THIRD ROUND: WANDER PEREZ (LHP)
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Dominant left-handed relief pitchers are not easy to come by, but the Ducks got the rights to one in the third round on Wednesday. Perez compiled a miniscule 1.71 ERA in 22 games for the Bluefish this past year, surrendering just four earned runs in 21 innings of work. He also struck out 25 batters while yielding only five walks and picked up a save along the way. After joining the team at the end of July, the 32-year-old made 15 consecutive appearances without allowing an earned run to encompass the month of August. He also pitched three and one-third scoreless innings on Long Island, striking out six. The Dominican Republic native also was a member of the Bluefish in 2015, tossing five and two-thirds scoreless innings over six games. Perez has previous experience in the Chicago White Sox organization and began 2017 with Lehigh Valley (AAA, Phillies).

FOURTH ROUND: ELVIN RAMIREZ (RHP)
MLB: New York Mets at New York Yankees

The Ducks inked the rights to a third consecutive relief pitcher in the fourth round with Ramirez. The right-hander had tremendous success for Bridgeport last year just like Pestano and Perez, going 5-2 with a 2.16 ERA and two saves in 31 games for the Bluefish. He struck out 30 batters in 33 and one-third innings while walking just six, including none in his final nine outings of the season. The 30-year-old joined Bridgeport at the end of June and began his tenure by not allowing an earned run in 11 straight outings, spanning 11 and two-thirds innings. He then went 13 consecutive outings with no earned runs from August 4 to September 12. The Dominican Republic native also pitched four and two-thirds scoreless innings on Long Island in 2017. Ramirez reached the big leagues with the Mets in 2012, striking out 22 batters in 21 and one-third innings. Control can sometimes be an issue, as he walked 20 batters with the Mets and 260 in affiliated ball experience over 463 and one-third innings, but he averages over seven strikeouts per nine innings. In addition to spending six seasons in the Mets organization, Ramirez has also pitched in the Angels and Reds’ systems.

FIFTH ROUND: MANNY PARRA (LHP)
Milwaukee Brewers vs St. Louis Cardinals

Parra marked the fourth pitcher and second lefty whose rights the Ducks acquired. The southpaw joined the Bluefish late in the 2017 season and made nine starts with mixed results. He was 3-4 overall with a 5.87 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 46 innings. He allowed 19 walks but surrendered 60 hits. The 35-year-old began his Bluefish career with a strong performance against the Ducks, pitching five and two-thirds innings of two-run ball while striking out seven at Bethpage Ballpark. He then bounced back after a couple of tough outings to allow three earned runs or less in five of his final six starts. The California native carries eight seasons of MLB experience, including five with the Brewers (2007-10, ’12) and three with the Reds (2013-15). He was 29-41 with a 4.90 ERA and 592 strikeouts in 322 games (74 starts) at the game’s highest level. Parra began 2017 with Triple-A Iowa in the Cubs organization and has split time throughout his career as a starter and a reliever.

SIXTH ROUND: SEAN BURROUGHS (INF)
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Ducks fans are surely familiar with Burroughs. The former big league infielder spent parts of the 2015 and 2016 seasons in a Ducks uniform and also donned a Bluefish jersey for parts of four years (2014-17). He has showcased a tremendous hitting ability since entering the Atlantic League, compiling a .334 batting average, 144 RBI, 145 runs, 67 doubles, 115 walks and a .394 on-base percentage in 336 games. In his two seasons with Long Island, the California native combined for a .321 batting average and 33 RBI in 79 games. He also brought a very likable personality to the clubhouse, always sporting a big smile and sharing laughs around the batting cage and dugout. Last year with Bridgeport, the seven-year MLB veteran ranked second in the Atlantic League with a .328 batting average. However, fans wondering why he was not drafted earlier on Wednesday must remember that he played in just 92 games last year after twice leaving the team (6/27-7/19 and 9/5-end of season)  for the birth and care of his son, Knox. Though he has not announced his official retirement, it certainly remains possible.

Stay tuned for more news and notes as the offseason progresses. Over the next couple of months leading into the holidays, we will be highlighting which Ducks alumni are playing winter baseball in the Caribbean or overseas. In addition, we will also have feature articles on members of the 2017 Ducks and eventually will count down some of the top moments from this past season.

Ducks Unveil 2017 Opening Day Roster

QuackerJack-High-Fiving-Players

Happy Opening Day, Ducks fans!

We sincerely hope that all of our loyal blog followers had a wonderful offseason. The first of 140 games during the season is officially upon us tonight, as the Ducks will take the field in Waldorf, Md. to begin a four-game series against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.

We’ll have a full post prior to game time with a look at the starting pitching matchup, game notes and the starting lineups for both teams, as we have provided in years past. Before that though, we would like to unveil the Ducks’ full active roster for Opening Day. Teams are allowed to carry 27 players on the active roster through May 31, after which, roster limits are 25.

PITCHERS

#21 David Aardsma – RHP
#7   John Brownell – RHP
#25 Keith Couch – RHP
#14 Patrick Crider – LHP
#28 Eury De La Rosa – LHP
#38 Amalio Diaz – RHP
#19 Jim Fuller – LHP
#44 Matt Larkins – RHP
#33 Tim Melville – RHP
#17 Dennis O’Grady – RHP
#40 Rafael Perez – LHP
#27 Rob Rogers – RHP
#9   Zac Treece – RHP
#41 Chin-Hui Tsao – RHP
#29 Tyler Wilson – RHP

CATCHERS (BATS/THROWS)

#15 Dominic Blanco (L/R)
#23 Alex Burg (R/R)

INFIELDERS (BATS/THROWS)

#6   Giovanny Alfonzo (R/R)
#35 Nate Freiman (R/R)
#34 Marc Krauss (L/R)
#12 Dan Lyons (R/R)
#2   Cody Puckett (R/R)
#13 Elmer Reyes (R/R)

OUTFIELDERS (BATS/THROWS)

#5   Delta Cleary Jr (S/R)
#24 Fehlandt Lentini (R/R)
#20 Nolan Reimold (R/R)
#26 Angelo Songco (L/R)

As it currently stands, the starting rotation features:

  1. John Brownell – RHP
  2. Rafael Perez – LHP
  3. Keith Couch – RHP
  4. Tim Melville – RHP
  5. Matt Larkins – RHP

Right-handed pitcher Rob Rogers, who had been with the team during spring training, has made the team and was signed and activated last night. In a corresponding move, left-handed pitcher Jack Snodgrass was placed on the inactive list.

Stay tuned later today for our first game preview of the season. First pitch for tonight’s season opener in Southern Maryland is scheduled for 6:35 p.m., with the pre-game show beginning at approximately 6:20. Yesterday, the Ducks announced the many ways fans can tune into all game broadcasts throughout the 2017 season. Until then, onto Southern Maryland!

Ducks Start Spring Training with Redemption on Mind

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The 2017 season is around the corner as spring training is underway at Bethpage Ballpark

With the start of the 2017 Atlantic League season slated for next Thursday, the Long Island Ducks began spring training on Monday. With a roster full of fresh faces and familiar returners, the Ducks have their sights set on a fourth Atlantic League championship this year. Spirits are high and minds are focused after a defeat in the ALPB Championship Series last year left the Ducks just shy of their ultimate goal.

Monday brought the first day of workouts, where the team took the field at Bethpage Ballpark for the first time for batting practice, defensive drills and simulated games. Former big leaguers Nate Freiman and Nolan Reimold dazzled in smacking the ball out of the park, while Fehlandt Lentini sprayed line drives to all fields. Catcher Alex Burg introduced himself to his new teammates by crushing homer after homer over the left field fence.

Starting pitchers John Brownell and Keith Couch looked sharp in their simulated games, and Taiwanese import and former Los Angeles Dodger Chin-Hui Tsao displayed strong command in his bullpen session. Most exchanged pleasantries and introductions, coupled with a sense of optimism for this year that made the day feel as much like an orientation as it did a practice.

More of the same took place Tuesday morning, as Freiman got things going with an impressive power display – going deep twice to dead centerfield in his first round of batting practice. Cody Puckett found his power stroke crushing long balls over all three levels of advertising in left field.

On the mound, Dennis O’Grady induced weak contact in his simulated game, keeping hitters off balance with an assortment of fastballs, curves and off-speed offerings.

Overall, the Ducks spring training roster is comprised of 17 pitchers, three catchers, six infielders and four outfielders. Eight players on the team have MLB experience, and there are nine players returning from last year’s ALPB Championship Series roster.

Pitchers (17)

(Name, Position, Highest Level…* indicates Spring Training Invitee)

David Aardsma, RHP, MLB

John Brownell, RHP, A

Keith Couch, RHP, Triple-A

Patrick Crider, LHP, Ind.

Eury De La Rosa, LHP, MLB

Amalio Diaz, RHP, Triple-A

Jim Fuller, LHP, Triple-A

Matt Larkins, RHP, Ind.

Tyler Levine*, RHP, Ind.

Dennis O’Grady, RHP, Triple-A

Rafael Perez, LHP, MLB

Rob Rogers*, RHP, Triple-A

Jack Snodgrass, LHP, Triple-A

Zac Treece, RHP, Ind.

Chin-Hui Tsao, RHP, MLB

Tyler Wilson, RHP, A

Catchers (3)

(Name, Highest Level…* indicates Spring Training Invitee)

Dominic Blanco, A

Alex Burg, Triple-A

Nate Irving*, A

Infielders (6)

(Name, Highest Level)

Giovanny Alfonzo, A

Nate Freiman, MLB

Marc Krauss, MLB

Dan Lyons, A

Cody Puckett, Triple-A

Elmer Reyes, Triple-A

Outfielders (4)

(Name, Highest Level)

Delta Cleary, Jr., Triple-A

Fehlandt Lentini, Triple-A

Nolan Reimold, MLB

Angelo Songco, Double-A

Spring training for the Ducks continues right through Opening Day, and will include four exhibition games. Three of the four contests will be held at Bethpage Ballpark, with the game against Bridgeport free to everyone. The other two are free for season ticket holders, with a $5 donation to the QuackerJack Foundation applying to the general public.

Thursday, April 13 – 10:30 am – Ducks at Bridgeport Bluefish

Saturday, April 15 – 1:00 pm – Bridgeport Bluefish at Ducks

Monday, April 17 – 12:00 pm – Long Island Black Sox at Ducks

Tuesday, April 18 – 12:00 pm – Long Island Black Sox at Ducks

The Ducks begin their season on Thursday, April 20 with a seven-game road trip at the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs and the Somerset Patriots. They return home for on Friday, April 28 to host the New Britain Bees at 6:35 pm. Gates open at 5:35 pm, and make sure you are part of the first 1,500 fans through the gates to receive your Rich Hill Bobblehead, courtesy of P.C. Richard & Son.

Alumni Continue to Highlight Coaching Ranks

As the calendar now officially reads “2017,” the thoughts of baseball and freshly cut grass are beginning to seep into everyone’s minds around Bethpage Ballpark. Sure, the brand new sod that was laid down earlier this offseason may be covered by eight inches of white powder and the thermometer may read below freezing. However, we are now approximately 12 weeks away from the start of spring training, 14 weeks from the season beginning and 15 weeks from Opening Night on Long Island!

With the arrival of January, the time for teams around the Atlantic League to begin signing players for the upcoming season is just about upon us. News is sure to surface among the eight teams in the coming weeks of roster additions for 2017. Until then, there have been several recent stories about Ducks and Atlantic League alumni involved in coaching ranks around minor league baseball. Let’s take a look at who has been making headlines of late:

ALUMNI DUO TO LEAD BROOKLYN
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Local baseball fans here on Long Island will surely remember the name Edgardo Alfonzo. The 12-year Major League veteran spent eight seasons with the New York Mets, earning an All-Star selection in 2000 and helped the Mets to a National League championship later that season. He went on to play just over 1,500 games in his big league career, batting .284 with 146 home runs, 744 RBI and a .299 postseason batting average. Alfonzo would also play for three Atlantic League teams, including Bridgeport (2006), Newark (2010) and the Ducks (2007-08).

Now, the 43-year-old will be managing with the organization he’s best remembered for playing with. The Brooklyn Cyclones announced this past week that Alfonzo will serve as the team’s manager for the 2017 season. He will become the 11th man to lead the New York-Penn League franchise, taking over for the departed Tom Gamboa. Alfonzo has served on Gamboa’s coaching staff for the past three seasons and has developed a strong understanding of both the club and league. After finishing two games under .500 this past season and missing the playoffs, the club is hoping that “Fonzie” will be able to find more success this year while continuing to cultivate a youthful talent pool.

While in the Atlantic League, Alfonzo’s best moments came just down the road from his former office of Shea Stadium. The infielder combined to play 164 games with the Ducks and compiled a .289 batting average with 13 home runs, 83 RBI, 90 runs and 36 doubles. He spent the entire 2007 campaign with the Flock and rejoined the team in 2008 after beginning the year with Quintana Roo in the Mexican League. In each of his two seasons, the Ducks earned postseason berths. Alfonzo would join the Atlantic League again in 2010 with the Newark Bears but hit just .154 in 26 games. He would play three more seasons of winter league baseball in Venezuela before retiring from the game.

Joining Alfonzo on the Cyclones’ staff will be former big league pitcher Royce Ring, who has been hired as Brooklyn’s pitching coach. The left-hander’s name should also ring a few bells for local baseball fans, as he spent time with both the Mets and Yankees in his career. He struggled over 15 games out of the bullpen with the Mets in 2005 but rebounded during their magical 2006 campaign by posting a 2.13 ERA in 11 games. Ring would then make stops with the Padres and Braves before joining the Yankees in 2010. However, he allowed four runs in two and one-third innings of work out of the bullpen, in what would be the final stay of his Major League career.

Ring’s name should also be familiar with Ducks fans, as he spent time on the roster during the 2013 championship season. The southpaw pitched in four games for Long Island and surrendered three runs over three and one-third innings in late May/early June. He was subsequently released and would retire a year later after becoming the pitching coach for the Mets’ rookie-level affiliate in the Gulf Coast League.

Best of luck to Edgardo and Royce in Brooklyn!

HOUSE CONTINUES TO CLIMB THE LADDER
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J.R. House, whose time with Long Island was short but certainly sweet, continues to advance up the ladder in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. The former Major League catcher has been named the manager of the Double-A Jackson Generals in the Southern League. He will have the pleasure of managing a squad that just earned the league championship a year ago, albeit while serving as an affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.

The advancement for House continues to impress since retiring from the game of baseball. After serving as a coach for two seasons in the Diamondbacks organization, he held a managerial role with the Hillsboro Hops (2014) and Visalia Rawhide (2015-16). In that time, he has compiled a record of 213-143, good for a .598 winning percentage. He led the Hops to the Northwest League championship in 2014 and earned California League Manager of the Year honors with Visalia in 2015. Although his ballclub did not bring home a title in 2016, he led them to a league-best 46-24 record in the first half and a spot in the league’s Championship Series.

House’s time with the Ducks lasted just one season, but it was one of the best offensive seasons by a catcher in team history. The West Virginia native played 113 games and batted .305 with 19 home runs, 81 RBI, 73 runs, 128 hits and 22 doubles. He did not commit a single error in the field, threw out 20 percent of runners attempting to steal and led the pitching staff to the best ERA in the league at 4.17. He was selected as an Atlantic League All-Star during the season and helped the Flock to their first Atlantic League Championship Series appearance since 2004.

Congratulations on the promotion, J.R.!

HOBSON HEADS TO KANE COUNTY
butch

Although he has never donned a Ducks uniform, fans that have frequented Bethpage Ballpark are sure to know the name Butch Hobson. The 65-year-old has amassed more wins than any other manager in Atlantic League history and most recently served six seasons at the helm of the Lancaster Barnstormers. Despite all of his success, including a championship with Lancaster in 2014, the Barnstormers elected not to bring Hobson back following a 2016 season where they missed out on the postseason. The former big leaguer did not have to wait long though, as the Kane County Cougars have hired him to be their manager.

While it may seem large at times, the baseball world is indeed a small one. According to an article from the Chicago Tribune, Hobson reached out to good friend Buddy Bell, who is the Vice President and Assistant GM of the Chicago White Sox. The team had just signed his son, K.C., who played for his dad in Lancaster a year ago after earning Post-Season All-Star honors. Although the White Sox did not have an opening for Butch, the Diamondbacks did. Buddy’s son, Mike, who is the Vice President of Player Development with Arizona, interviewed Hobson and presented him with the job at Kane County.

We are all happy for Butch to have received an opportunity to continue managing the game he loves! However, we will certainly miss playing his favorite tune at the ballpark:

Coaching was certainly a theme today, but that is not all the news there is to share! Be sure to stay tuned to LIDucks.com and “Quack of the Bat” later this week for an announcement regarding the Ducks’ 2017 coaching staff. In addition, be sure to check out the team’s visit to A.P. Willits Elementary School in Syosset last week where a third grade student was honored as part of the TD Bank “Take a Duck to Class” essay contest. CLICK HERE to see the full story!

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