Category Archives: Ducks News
The Ducks have continued their spring training workouts throughout the course of the week at Bethpage Ballpark. Position players and pitchers each took part in various drills from Tuesday through Thursday, with all position players taking part in batting practice and several pitchers throwing live to hitters as well. Then on Friday, the Ducks hit the road for their first spring training game of the year, taking on the New Britain Bees in Connecticut.
Below are several updated from spring training on Long Island thus far:
VIDEO: Jair Jurrjens and Tyler Holt
VIDEO: Jake Fisher and Daniel Fields
RECAP: Ducks Edged by Bees in Spring Training Opener
The Long Island Ducks were defeated by the New Britain Bees 5-4 on Friday afternoon in the opening game of their 2018 spring training schedule at New Britain Stadium.
Long Island opened up an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning against Bees starter Andy Van Hekken. Jordany Valdespin scored the game’s opening run on a wild pitch, and Travis Snider followed with a two-run home run. The Ducks tacked on their fourth run of the day in the fourth on an RBI single by Dan Lyons that plated Daniel Fields.
New Britain closed the gap to 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth. James Skelton’s two-run single and Vinny Siena’s run-scoring single did the damage. It stayed that way until the bottom of the ninth when the Bees scored twice to win the game. Joe Poletsky’s two-out RBI single tied the game, and Siena’s RBI double ended the ballgame.
Neither starter factored into the decision. Ducks starter Andrew Barbosa tossed three perfect innings on the mound, striking out four batters. Ashur Tolliver, Rob Rogers, Wander Perez and Vinnie Pestano each pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the Ducks. Van Hekken lasted two and two-thirds innings, yielding three runs on four hits and a walk with three strikeouts. Elvin Ramirez collected the win with a scoreless ninth inning, and Tyler Levine suffered the loss, allowing two runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning.
The Ducks continue their spring training schedule on Saturday afternoon when they welcome the Bees to Bethpage Ballpark as part of the Sixth Annual Fan Fest taking place that day. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m., and the 2018 Ducks roster will be introduced along the first base line prior to the game. Admission to the event, including the spring training game against the Bees, will be free of charge. CLICK HERE for information regarding Fan Fest.
The Long Island Ducks officially began their spring training workouts on Monday in advance of the 2018 All-Star Summer, presented by Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center. Despite inclement weather preventing the team from doing much in the way of outdoor activities, position players did take the first swings in the team’s batting cage while pitchers did some throwing exercises and light toss.
We caught up after the workouts with Ducks manager Kevin Baez, returning shortstop Dan Lyons and infielder/MLB veteran Jordany Valdespin:
A total of 30 players are on the Ducks spring training roster, with 24 having been signed. The roster includes 11 former Major Leaguers, 19 players who have reached the Triple-A or MLB level and seven who are originally from Long Island or reside locally.
CLICK HERE for the full roster
The team has invited the following six players to spring training:
Cody Puckett (INF) – Puckett played 33 games with the Ducks in 2017, totaling three home runs and 12 RBI, before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He has spent four seasons with Long Island, compiling a .278 batting average, 31 homers, 215 RBI, 203 runs, 462 hits and 61 doubles in 426 games. The 31-year-old was selected to play in the 2015 Atlantic League All-Star Game at Bridgeport and garnered Post-Season All-Star honors that year as well. The California native earned also earned Second Team Post-Season All-Star honors during his first year with the Flock in 2014. Puckett was originally drafted by the Puckett was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the eighth round of the 2008 amateur draft.
Tyler Levine (RHP) – Levine spent time in 2017 as a starter and a reliever with the Ducks. He appeared in 23 games (eight starts) and posted a 3-3 record along with 36 strikeouts in 60 innings of work. In his first start with Long Island, the East Meadow NY native stymied the York Revolution with seven innings of two-run ball, striking out five and earning the win. Prior to joining the Ducks, the 25-year-old played with both Joliet and Evansville in the Frontier League, as well as Old Orchard Beach in the Empire League and Brownsville in the United League.
Max Almonte (RHP) – Almonte has three seasons of professional experience, all in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He pitched in 32 games for Single-A Peoria in 2017, accruing a 3.40 ERA, two saves and 44 strikeouts over 45 innings. The Far Rockaway native was superb over his first two years of pro ball with Single-A State College, combining to go 3-2 with a 2.82 ERA and 33 strikeouts over 51 innings of work, spanned across 29 games. The 26-year-old Villanova University alum was originally drafted by the Cardinals in the 16th round of the 2015 amateur draft.
Jason Creasy (RHP) – Creasy earned a spring training invite after participating in the Ducks open player tryout on April 14. He spent the first six seasons of his career in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, reaching as high as Triple-A in 2016. The North Carolina native collected Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star honors with Double-A Altoona in 2015 and was 12-8 with a 4.41 ERA, one complete game, one save and 147 innings pitched over 27 games (25 starts). The 25-year-old pitched with the St. Paul Saints of the American Association in 2017, making 11 starts and striking out 49 batters in 57 innings. Creasy was originally drafted by the Pirates in the eighth round of the 2011 amateur draft.
Robert Garcia (OF) – Garcia earned a spring training invite after participating in the Ducks open player tryout on April 14. He has five seasons of professional experience, all in the Chicago Cubs organization. The Elwood Park, New Jersey resident played a career-high 108 games for Single-A Myrtle Beach in 2017, collecting two homers, 31 RBI, 42 runs, six doubles, three triples and 16 stolen bases. The 24-year-old was named an MiLB.com Organization All-Star in 2015 after hitting .341 and posting a .409 on-base percentage with the Cubs’ rookie-level affiliate in the Arizona League. He was also chosen as a Northwest League Mid-Season All-Star in 2016 with Single-A Eugene. Garcia was originally signed by the Cubs as an international free agent in 2013.
Wagner Gomez (C) – Gomez earned a spring training invite after participating in the Ducks open player tryout on April 14. He has five seasons of professional baseball experience, all with the Cincinnati Reds organization. The Richmond Hill, NY resident began his career as a catcher and infielder, totaling nine home runs, 54 RBI, 47 runs, 18 doubles and three triples over 130 games. The 26-year-old then converted to a pitcher in 2013 and appeared in 36 games over two seasons, striking out 43 batters in 38 and two-thirds innings. Gomez was originally signed by the Reds as an international free agent in 2010.
The complete spring training schedule is as follows:
Friday, April 20 – 1:00 p.m. – Ducks at New Britain
Saturday, April 21 – 1:00 p.m. – New Britain at Ducks
Monday, April 23 – 1:00 p.m. – Black Sox at Ducks
Tuesday, April 24 – 1:00 p.m. – Black Sox at Ducks
Stay tuned for updates throughout the course of the week regarding team workouts and other news. As a reminder, the 2018 season gets underway on Friday, April 27th when the Ducks visit the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs at 6:35 p.m. The Home Opener will follow on Friday, May 4th as the Blue Crabs make the return trip to Long Island for a 6:35 p.m. start.
Happy New Year, Ducks fans! We at “Quack of the Bat” hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season and was able to enjoy this festive period as 2017 officially came to a close. With that, the 2018 calendar year has now begun, and with it, the drive towards Opening Day of Long Island’s All-Star Summer. Surely, teams will begin to build their rosters over the coming weeks and news about games, promotions and other events will be announced. However, there is already plenty of news surrounding the team as the 19th season of Ducks baseball gets underway.
MELVILLE JOINS THE ORIOLES
It appears as though 2017 Ducks starting pitcher Tim Melville will be adding another Major League organization to his resume. The right-hander signed a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles on December 22, making them the sixth MLB club that he has been a part of (Royals, Tigers, Reds, Twins and Padres).
Melville was one of the biggest success stories among the Ducks roster last year. He joined the team after having pitched in the Majors with the Reds in 2016. The 28-year-old started nine games over the first seven weeks of the season, compiling a 3.45 ERA and 48 strikeouts. 14 of those punch outs came in a win at New Britain on June 7, which tied a single-game franchise record. It was no surprise that Melville’s contract was purchased by the Twins three days later.
He would excel with Triple-A Rochester, posting a 4-3 record, a 2.70 ERA and 64 strikeouts over 11 games (10 starts). That performance was worthy enough of a promotion to the big leagues on August 21, just over two months after his contract was purchased from the Ducks. Although he would struggle in three combined appearances (one start) between the Twins and Padres in the big leagues, he proved his value to MLB organizations during the 2017 campaign. Melville is certainly hoping to break spring training with the big club in Baltimore, but for now, the team has assigned him to Triple-A Norfolk of the International League.
WADDLE-OFF MAGIC FOR FORMER FLOCK MEMBERS
Down in the Caribbean Winter Leagues, the playoffs have begun for a number of teams. One of those, Aguilas de Mexicali of the Mexican Pacific League, has earned a pair of walk-off victories to begin its postseason. In Game One of their series against Venados de Mazatlan, 2015 Duck Ryan Kussmaul pitched a scoreless eighth inning before 2014 Duck C.J. Retherford won the game in the bottom of the ninth. Retherford’s two-out RBI double put Aguilas ahead in the series. Former Patriot and Skeeter Roy Merritt started on the mound for Venados and was lifted from the game following eight innings of one-run ball.
The pair of former Ducks teamed up again in a 3-2 walk-off win the following day. Kussmaul tossed a scoreless eighth inning once again to keep the score tied at two, and Retherford stepped up to the plate to begin the bottom of the 11th. 2015 and 2016 Duck Nick Struck had tossed three scoreless innings of relief for Venados but gave way to Marcos Rivas to begin the inning. Retherford launched a walk-off homer to send the crowd of over 16,000 at Estadio B-Air into a frenzy. Aguilas finished the regular season in first place with a 26-7 record, a full six games clear of Mayos de Navojoa, who finished second.
STARTERS REUNITED IN VENEZUELA
The two pitchers were teammates for three seasons together on Long Island, and they have now been joined together once again down in the Caribbean. John Brownell and Jared Lansford are both playing postseason baseball with Caribes de Anzoategui in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. Brownell has typically been spending his winters in Puerto Rico with Criollos de Caguas, but with some uncertainty surrounding their season following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the righty took advantage of an opportunity to pitch in Venezuela. Lansford has recently been spending the year overseas in the Chinese Professional Baseball League.
Caribes finished fourth in the league with a 32-31 record. Brownell threw four innings of two-run ball in his lone start on December 21, while Lansford struggled, yielding 13 runs in 12 innings of work over five games (four starts). Caribes has jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the playoff series with Navegantes del Magallanes. Blue Crabs veteran pitcher Daryl Thompson, who ranked fourth in the Venezuelan League with a 2.79 ERA and second in strikeouts with 50, started Game One and earned the win with six scoreless innings. Brownell is slated to start Game Four on Saturday.
PITCHING PAIR IN DOMINICAN PLAYOFFS
Two more Ducks alumni are also part of a postseason bound team in the Dominican Republic this winter. 2017 starting pitchers Rafael Perez and Alfredo Simon have been teammates with Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Professional Baseball League. The club finished the regular season with a 29-21 record, good for first place by two games over a pair of other teams.
Perez pitched out of the bullpen and did quite well, allowing just two runs over 17 and two-thirds innings across 22 appearances, good for a 1.02 ERA. Simon totaled eight games, starting seven of them, and was 2-0 with a 4.03 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 29 innings. Thus far, Gigantes is out to a 1-3 start to the four-team round robin playoffs that are going on now through January 18. Neither Perez nor Simon has yet to appear in the playoffs. Tigres del Licey leads the league at 4-0 to this point and features several recent Atlantic League alumni (Alexis Candelario, Somerset; Bryan Evans, Lancaster; Patrick McCoy, Southern Maryland; Kevin Munson, Lancaster; Kyler Newby, Somerset; Angelys Nina, Bridgeport).
Be sure to keep an eye on the blog over the next few months for a variety of content. As the roster takes shape, we will have features on the players that will make up this year’s team. In addition, we will have further updates on winter league action and much more regarding the All-Star Summer festivities.
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
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
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:
TWO NEW ATLANTIC LEAGUE MANAGERS HIRED
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.
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.