The current decade officially comes to a close at the stroke of midnight on Wednesday, January 1. At that point, the past 10 years of Ducks baseball officially wraps up and a new chapter begins to be written in the history of the franchise. The first decade of Ducks baseball from 2000-09 saw attendance records be broken, the successful start of professional baseball on Long Island and six consecutive postseason berths. Although the franchise did win its first Atlantic League Championship in 2004, the remainder of the decade saw the club have the opportunity to win a title but come up short in their quest of doing so.
However, the same cannot be said for the current decade that is about to end. As detailed last week, the Ducks were certainly the class of the ALPB during the 2010s. Long Island won three Atlantic League Championships, including back-to-back trophies in 2012 and 2013 and another just this past season. It saw the team earn Liberty Division Championships in seven of the 10 seasons and reach the postseason in eight of them. Add that with more attendance milestones being reached and dozens of player contracts being purchased by Major League Baseball and foreign professional leagues, the 2010s decade is certainly one for the record books for the Ducks and their fans.
Before we put a bow on the 10 years that was, now is as good a time as ever to highlight the best players to wear the Ducks uniform during the decade. Given the success of the era and all impactful names that came through Central Islip, picking out just a select few is no easy task. However, our blog staff did their best to determine the select few who earned a rightful place on the 2010s Ducks All-Decade Team:
CATCHER: J.R. HOUSE
House posted one of the most prolific seasons by a catcher in ALPB history. The backstop hit .305 during the incredible 2011 season with 19 home runs, 81 RBIs, 73 runs, 128 hits, 22 doubles and a .365 on-base percentage over 113 games. He also did not make a single error defensively all year, as the former Major Leaguer helped the Ducks reach the Atlantic League Championship Series.
FIRST BASE: DAVID WASHINGTON
Few players in Ducks history have showcased the power that David Washington has. He helped the Ducks reach the Atlantic League Championship Series in 2018 then returned and won it all in 2019. The former big leaguer combined to hit 47 home runs, drive in 131 runs and score 122 over 217 games during the past two seasons. He also had a flair for the dramatic, highlighted by his game-winning blast in Game Three of the 2018 ALCS.
SECOND BASE: CODY PUCKETT
Puckett was a model of consistency for the Ducks over his first three seasons in a Ducks uniform. While playing both second and third base, he played over 120 games, hit over .270 and scored over 60 runs in each. He suffered a knee injury in 2017 that ended his season early before returning to play a full season in 2018, totaling five seasons in a Ducks uniform. In that time, he helped the Flock to four playoff berths and three Liberty Division Championships.
SHORTSTOP: DAN LYONS
The Ducks all-time leader in games played with 888, Lyons became a fixture at shortstop during the decade. In eight seasons with the Flock (2011-18), he totaled 40 homers, 353 RBIs, 423 runs and 755 hits. Not to mention, he earned three Atlantic League All-Star selections (2012, 2015, 2016), the Rawlings Gold Glove Defensive Player of the Year Award (2015), two Atlantic League Championships (2012, 2013) and Championship Series MVP honors (2012).
THIRD BASE: BRYANT NELSON
“Nelly” was a key contributor to the Ducks back-to-back ALPB Championships in 2012 and 2013. He played over 120 games, collected over 70 RBIs, totaled over 135 hits, scored 72 runs, and hit 30 doubles in each season. The former Red Sox player also earned an Atlantic League All-Star nod during the 2013 season and is one of the league’s all-time greats, spending 11 seasons in the circuit between 2006 and 2016 and playing more games than anyone else (1,013).
LEFT FIELD: LEW FORD
One of the most beloved players in franchise history, Ford has fashioned a 10-year Ducks career as a player and now coach, all but one of which have come in this decade. He is the Ducks all-time hitting leader with a .320 batting average. The six-year MLB veteran has totaled 921 hits, 75 home runs, 448 RBIs and 483 runs over 751 games with the Flock. He’s been a part of three Atlantic League Championship teams, seven Liberty Division Championship squads, was the 2014 Atlantic League Player of the Year and is a three-time Atlantic League All-Star.
CENTER FIELD: KRAIG BINICK
Binick burst onto the scene in 2011 when he won the Atlantic League batting title, hitting .343 with the Ducks. He also led the league in on-base percentage (.429), stolen base percentage (.894) and stolen bases (42) that year. The Hicksville native ended up spending three seasons with the Ducks (2011-13), reaching the Atlantic League Championship Series in each and winning two titles along the way. Binick also hit .352 in 26 playoff games.
RIGHT FIELD: ADAM BAILEY
Bailey demonstrated great power during his two seasons with the Ducks and secured the final out of the team’s 2013 Atlantic League Championship. In 2013 and 2014, he combined to total 35 home runs, 146 RBIs, 119 runs, 277 hits and 47 doubles in 261 games. Bailey also earned a 2014 Atlantic League All-Star Game selection.
DESIGNATED HITTER: RAY NAVARRETE
The legendary #16 played the back half of his eight-year Ducks career during the decade and helped lead the Flock to two Atlantic League Championships. He also earned ALPB All-Star selections in 2010 and 2012. Navarrete set the Atlantic League record for doubles in a single-season with 50 in 2012, and one year later, hit a legendary three-run homer in Game Five of the Atlantic League Championship Series, his final game in a Ducks uniform. He closed his Ducks career as the franchise leader in hits (963), homers (137), RBIs (548), runs (599), doubles (245) and games played (863) before Dan Lyons broke the latter.
STARTING PITCHER: JOHN BROWNELL
We follow up one franchise legend with another in the great #7, John Brownell. Arguably the greatest starting pitcher in team history, he spent seven seasons with the Flock from 2012-18. In that time, he became the franchise record holder in wins (65), strikeouts (755), innings pitched (1,005) and starts (154). He also set Ducks single-season records for starts (29, 2014), complete games (7, 2013), innings pitched (202.0, 2014) and strikeouts (147, 2016). The righty earned two Atlantic League Championships as well as Championship Series MVP honors in 2013. He was also named the league’s Pitcher of the Year in 2015 and an All-Star selection in 2017.
CLOSER: LEO ROSALES
Thanks in part to Rosales’ work on the mound, the Ducks were able to capture consecutive championships in 2012 and 2013. Acquired in a 2012 trade with Camden for outfielder Reid Gorecki, he spent three seasons overall with the Flock, appearing in 54 games and posting 28 saves, a 1.98 ERA, 59 strikeouts and just 24 walks over 54.2 innings. The former big leaguer recorded the save to wrap up the 2013 Atlantic League Championship and earned an Atlantic League All-Star selection 2013 as well.
MANAGER: KEVIN BAEZ
Much of the Ducks success during the decade can be contributed to the work done by Kevin Baez as manager. From 2011-18, he guided the Flock to seven playoff appearances, six Liberty Division Championships (including two stretches of three in a row) and two Atlantic League Championships. The former Ducks infielder also managed in three Atlantic League All-Star Games during the decade (2012, 2013, 2018).
Bobby Blevins – Spent parts of five seasons with the Ducks (2012-16) and earned two Atlantic League Championships in the process. Went 15-11 with a 3.23 ERA and 212 strikeouts over 50 games (47 starts) during his first four seasons with the Flock. Turned in three quality starts during the playoffs with Long Island, including both decisive Game Five matchups in 2012.
Delta Cleary Jr. – Played three seasons with the Ducks (2015-17) and hit .297 with 139 RBIs, 172 runs, 395 hits, 52 doubles, eight triples and 91 stolen bases. Reached the playoffs each season and the Atlantic League Championship Series twice.
Amalio Diaz – Appeared in parts of four seasons with the Flock (2015-17, 2019) and was a major piece of the bullpen during each of the first three years. Recorded 34 saves and 204 strikeouts to just 44 walks over 167 innings in a Ducks uniform, compiling a 2.53 ERA. 2017 Atlantic League All-Star.
Mike Loree – Turned in arguably the best single season by a pitcher in franchise history during the 2011 season when he won the pitching Triple Crown. Led the Atlantic League with 14 wins, a 1.98 ERA and 131 strikeouts to win the league’s Pitcher of the Year honors. Had his contract purchased during the season by the Pirates, came back to pitch in the playoffs, then returned in 2012 before heading having his contract purchased again by the Chinese Professional Baseball League.
L.J. Mazzilli – Instrumental in the team’s 2019 Atlantic League Championship, leading the team in hits, RBIs, runs, total bases and doubles while ranking eighth in the Atlantic League in batting (.293) and 10th in RBIs (74). Also batted .400 with 12 hits in eight playoff games. 2019 Atlantic League All-Star.
Deibinson Romero – Earned 2019 Atlantic League Championship Series MVP honors after hitting .444 with two homers and nine RBIs during the series against Sugar Land. Batted .357 with three homers and 11 RBIs in the playoffs after joining the Ducks midseason and hitting .268 with 11 homers and 46 RBIs. 2019 Atlantic League All-Star.
Jordany Valdespin – Earned Atlantic League Player of the Year and Baseball America Independent Leagues Player of the Year honors in 2018 after leading the league in hits (154), runs (94) and triples (7).
19 seasons of Long Island Ducks baseball have come and gone. Players from all around the world and of all varieties of baseball experience have worn the Ducks uniform since the first pitch on April 28, 2000. In that time, they have played in front of nearly 8 million fans in Central Islip, and millions more around the rest of the country. Those players and coaches have also earned three Atlantic League Championships, seven Division Championships, 13 half-season Division Championships and over 1,300 victories. As the Ducks 20th Anniversary Season, presented by Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, approaches, it is time to determine which members of the Flock have stood above the rest.
One of the most important positions on any team is that of the closer. The person filling this role needs to be confident and poised getting the ball in the most high-leverage situation during a game. When a team has the lead over the final inning or two, it’s his job to secure the victory and keep the opponent at bay. Throughout their history, the Ducks have had some big names fill this role. Just last year, 16-year MLB veteran Francisco Rodriguez, who has the fourth-most saves in Major League history, took on the role of Ducks closer. This week, we look back at three of the very best closers to wear the black and orange. Here are the nominees:
Although the Ducks missed out on the playoffs during their inaugural season in 2000, their closer did everything in his power to get him to the promised land. Matt Wagner joined the brand new Long Island Ducks that year after making 15 appearances (14 starts) in the Majors with Seattle during the 1996 season. He proceeded to turn in a year that, to this day, is arguably, the greatest season ever by a Ducks closer. Wagner tied for the Atlantic League lead with 61 appearances and ranked first with 36 saves, 11 more than any other pitcher in the league that year. The save total still ranks as the franchise’s single-season record today. The former third round draft pick went 3-3 with a 2.26 ERA and struck out 69 batters while walking only 18 over 63.2 innings of work. He deservedly was selected play in the Atlantic League All-Star Game, and his performance was a major factor in helping Long Island post a league-best 82-58 record, which remains as the franchise record for most wins in a season. Wagner went on to pitch for three more seasons, including 2002 with the Road Warriors and 2003 with both the Newark Bears and Atlantic City Surf.
Another former big leaguer is our second nominee for the position. Bill Simas spent six seasons with the Chicago White Sox from 1995-2000, appearing in 308 games, before joining the Ducks in 2004. In Long Island’s Fifth Anniversary Season, he helped deliver the team and the community its first Atlantic League Championship. The right-hander led the league with 17 saves that year and posted a 1.95 ERA over 44 appearances. In 50.2 innings, he struck out 53 batters while walking only 14. Simas also recorded some big-time saves, closing out Long Island’s win in Bridgeport on August 9, 2004, to clinch the Ducks first-ever postseason berth and both of the team’s playoff series clinchers (all of which were one-run games). The former sixth-round draft pick returned to the Ducks in 2009 and earned an Atlantic League All-Star Game selection. He led the league once again with 27 saves and ranked third in appearances with 60. Simas ended the season with a 5-4 record, a 2.76 ERA and 53 strikeouts to 16 walks over 62 innings. The following season, he served as the team’s pitching coach before simultaneously being activated as a pitcher in July. At 38 years old, he went 2-1 with a 3.30 ERA and four saves. Simas’ 48 career saves in a Ducks uniform remains the franchise’s all-time record. Simas is currently the pitching coach of the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers.
From one championship closer to another, Leo Rosales rounds out our 20th Anniversary Team closer candidates. Rosales, who pitched for three seasons at the MLB level with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2008-10), was acquired by Long Island from the Camden Riversharks in September of 2012 in exchange for outfielder Reid Gorecki. The trade would go down as one of the most important in team history. Rosales pitched three scoreless before leading the Ducks to an Atlantic League championship during the postseason. He recorded three saves in six games, including the winner-take-all Game Five during the Liberty Division Championship Series. One year later, Rosales went 2-2 with a 2.35 ERA and 18 saves in 39 appearances, earning an Atlantic League All-Star Game nod. The righty was dynamite in the playoffs once again, tallying four saves in five appearances, none bigger than closing out Game Five of the Atlantic League Championship Series at Somerset to clinch a second consecutive title. Rosales got off to a terrific start in 2014 with the Flock as well, totaling nine saves in 13 games and a 1.35 ERA before his contract was purchased by Leones de Yucatan of the Mexican League. He has since spent two more seasons pitching in Mexico and is now a pitching coach for the Single-A Tri-City Dust Devils in the San Diego Padres organization.
Deciding a winner will certainly not be easy! All three nominees have pitched in the Major Leagues, dominated with the Ducks and garnered Atlantic League All-Star honors. Two of the three have also won ALPB championships. It’s now your turn to help determine which of the three will be the closer on the 20th Anniversary Team. Cast your vote over the course of the next week by clicking the button below and choosing your favorite candidate. The winner, along with the remainder of the 20th Anniversary Team, will be unveiled at the beginning of the 2019 season!
Be sure to check back again next week, as we’ll unveil the final three nominees for the 20th Anniversary Team, highlighting the top managers in Ducks history.
Another week means we’re back for a new edition of the Winter Hot Steve Report. After recapping all the action thus far in Venezuela this winter, including a look at six Ducks from 2014 who are playing baseball there, we will change course and head to Mexico this week. The Mexican Pacific League is one of the top quality winter baseball leagues in the Caribbean. Last year’s Caribbean Series champion, Naranjeros de Hermosillo, hails from Mexico. In fact, the country has won the Caribbean Series title in three of the past four years.
This winter, the Mexican League features a whopping total of 15 players that spent time in 2014 as part of the Atlantic League. Among the 15, four played for the Ducks last season, and two of those four are currently wearing uniforms for the defending Caribbean champs.
Closer and two-time Atlantic League champion Leo Rosales is the first of those two. After helping the Flock to titles in 2012 and 2013, he began 2014 with the Ducks before being signed by Yucatan in the Mexican Summer League. So far this winter with Naranjeros de Hermosillo, Rosales has struggled, going 1-1 with a 5.51 ERA in 16 games out of the bullpen. He has struck out 12 in 16 and one-third innings, but he is not dominating like he did in the regular season with Yucatan (1-1, 3.03 ERA and 19 saves in 29 games).
One of his teammates is right-handed starting pitcher Shaun Garceau. The 2013 Atlantic League champion with the Ducks has just joined Rosales in Mexico after racking up 13 wins with the Flock. His only start to this point came on November 12, and he turned in four innings of one-run ball, allowing five hits and three walks while striking out one.
Although he hasn’t played for the Ducks since 2011, Matt Padgett is also teammates with Rosales and Garceau this winter. The infielder spent time in Mexico with Monclova this past season and in the American Association with Kansas City. So far this winter, he’s batting .256 with two RBI in 10 games. Among the other Atlantic Leaguers playing with Hermosillo are David Pauley (Sugar Land), Roy Corcoran (Sugar Land) and Jerry Owens (Lancaster). Unfortunately for Hermosillo, they have struggled to this point, going 13-20 which ranks seventh of the eight teams in the league.
Another Mexican League team that features two members of the 2014 Ducks is Charros de Jalisco. They have fared much better to this point, posting a 19-14 record which is good for second in the league and just a game and a half behind league-leader Yaquis de Obregon. The first of two Ducks playing for Jalisco is right-handed reliever David Kopp, who saw time as the Ducks closer this past year. In five games thus far, he is 1-0, has picked up a save and has tossed four and two-thirds scoreless innings. Kopp has also given just four hits and no walks while striking out three.
This winter, he has been reunited south of the border with Brendan Harris. The former big leaguer and Ducks infielder in 2014 just recently joined Jalisco. He made his debut with the club on Tuesday, November 18 and went 1-for-4 with a double, a run batted in and a run scored. Harris, who earned Second Team Atlantic League All-Star honors in 2014, will surely be looking to catch the attention of Major League scouts in hopes of returning to “The Show.”
Among the Atlantic Leaguers joining Kopp and Harris in Jalisco is a pair of relievers from the Freedom Division champion Sugar Land Skeeters. They are Brian Broderick and Ben Kozlowski. Both posted strong numbers out of the bullpen this past season. Another 2014 Atlantic Leaguer playing there is Amadeo Zazueta. The infielder split time with Camden and Southern Maryland this past year.
Five other players are calling Mexico home right now that played for the Atlantic League in 2014. Matt Gorgen (Camden), Anthony Slama and Dave Sappelt (Southern Maryland) are all currently teammates on Aguilas de Mexicali. Lancaster infielder Olmo Rosario has landed a spot with Venados de Mazatlan. Finally, former Duck Ricardo Gomez, who pitched with York this year, is part of Tomateros de Culiacan.
That’ll wrap up our look at the Mexican League so far this winter. That leaves us with two other countries in the Caribbean (Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic) to head to over the next couple of weeks. If you have heard about any other Ducks or Atlantic League alumni playing in Mexico this winter, please let us know. In addition, if you head south of the border and take any photos of Ducks playing there, please feel free to send them along. We would love to include those on the blog. Stay warm Ducks fans!
Long Island’s first trip to Sugar Land, Texas comes to an end here on Memorial Day, and the Ducks will be looking for another series victory thanks to the terrific effort of Shaun Garceau on Sunday afternoon. Following a tough loss on Saturday where the Skeeters rallied for single runs in the eighth and ninth to end the Ducks’ five-game winning streak, Garceau immediately lifted the spirits of the Flock back up. It marked the righty’s third quality start in a row and easily his best of the season.
It took Garceau 131 pitches, but he went the distance on a complete game shutout of the Skeeters in a 5-0 Ducks victory at Constellation Field. He allowed five hits total on the day, one of which was a pop-up that fell in on the infield and another in which Sergio Miranda made a nice sliding play and his throw to first just slightly pulled Randy Ruiz off the bag. Garceau walked three total, two of which came in the final two innings, and struck out six. He has now thrown 16 consecutive scoreless innings over his last two starts and once again looks like the pitcher who dominated down the stretch for the Ducks in 2013.
We had the chance to catch up with Garceau and his catcher on Sunday, Jan Vazquez, after the game:
Offensively, the Ducks were aided by several Skeeter miscues. Former big leaguer Brandon Wood, who spent five seasons in the Majors with the Angels and Pirates, made two errors at third base that led to three Ducks runs. The first of Long Island’s five runs came on a wild pitch from starter Steve Hammond, who had command issues all day. He ended up walking five in five innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits. The final run of the day for Long Island came off the bat of Lew Ford, who launched the first homer of the series for either side with a solo blast to left-center in the ninth. Ford’s teammates are now calling him “Red” because, in Garceau’s words, “he’s always red hot at the plate.”
CLICK HERE to read a full recap from Sunday’s win, complete with audio game highlights.
Today, the Ducks and Skeeters play a Memorial Day matinee at 2:05 p.m. CDT, though it is currently raining at Constellation Field. The report here is that the weather should pass by game time. Right-hander Fernando Hernandez will get the start for the Ducks as he looks to follow up a strong outing this past Wednesday at the Duck Pond. In seven innings, he allowed just two runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out three, earning a no-decision in Long Island’s 3-2 waddle-off win. Hernandez is 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA in eight games (three starts) this year. He’ll be opposed by former big leaguer David Pauley, who will make his sixth appearance (fifth start) of 2014. Thus far, he is 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA in his second season with Sugar Land. Pauley suffered the loss his last time out, yielding three runs (one earned) on six hits in seven innings on Wednesday against York.
Unfortunately, the Ducks lost one of their key arms on Monday. The team announced that pitcher Leo Rosales has been signed by Leones de Yucatan of the Mexican League. Rosales, who was in his third season with the Ducks, appeared in 13 games this season and posted a 1.35 ERA with nine saves, good for second in the Atlantic League behind York’s Rommie Lewis (11). In 13 and one-third innings, the right-hander allowed just two runs on seven hits and six walks while striking out 12. Entering Monday, the Los Angeles native had gone eight consecutive appearances without allowing a run.
Here are today’s game notes:
Ducks vs. Skeeters: Today marks the fourth meeting of the season between the Ducks and Skeeters and the fourth of 10 games between the two at Constellation Field. The Ducks currently lead the series 2-1. Long Island and Sugar Land have played 42 games against each other all-time, with the Skeeters holding a 27-16 lead in the series and a 17-6 advantage at Constellation Field.
Offensive Machine: Lew Ford extended his on-base streak to 21 consecutive games with a hit and two walks on Sunday. That’s the longest by a Duck this season and the longest in the Atlantic League in 2014. Ford has also now hit safely in 13 consecutive games, which is the longest by a Duck and second-longest in the Atlantic League this year. Ford is tied for the league lead in batting average (.383) and hits (41) and ranks second in on-base percentage (.451), third in RBI (24), total bases (65) and slugging percentage (.607), and fourth in runs (24).
Lew Launches One: Ford’s solo home run to left-center in the ninth inning on Sunday was his fifth longball of the season. That ties him with Adam Bailey for the team lead. The former Major Leaguer earned his 1,100th career minor league hit and 101st career homer. Long Island has now hit 19 home runs as a team in 2014.
Cody’s Streak Continues: Cody Puckett has now reached base in 18 consecutive games after collecting a hit on Saturday. That’s the second-longest on-base streak by a Duck this year behind Ford. Puckett has earned at least one hit in 16 of those 18 games.
Pitching Leads the Way: With a complete game shutout on Sunday, Shaun Garceau continued a streak of terrific starting pitching by the Ducks. During their last seven games, the starters are a combined 5-0 with a 1.08 ERA. In 50 innings, they’ve allowed just eight runs (six earned) on 40 hits and 13 walks with 31 strikeouts. Long Island has now earned four shutouts of opponents this season and have yet to be shut out in a game.
Back to Form: After a slow start to the year, Garceau has turned things around in his last three starts, earning wins in each of them. The righty has allowed just three runs in 23 innings (1.17 ERA) in those three starts and has given up just 14 hits and five walks while striking out 16. In his first three starts, Garceau yielded 19 runs in 11.1 innings (15.09 ERA), 24 hits and five walks with nine strikeouts.
On the Air: Today’s game will be broadcast live on the Ducks official YouTube channel. Live streaming audio will be available online by CLICKING HERE. Michael Polak will call the play-by-play. Fans can also watch live streaming video of the game online via ESPN 3 by CLICKING HERE.
Finally, here are this afternoon’s starting lineups:
#24 Fehlandt Lentini – RF
#2 Cody Puckett – 2B
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#22 Joash Brodin – 1B
#50 Randy Ruiz – DH
#13 Adam Bailey – LF
#30 Sergio Miranda – 3B
#23 Jan Vazquez – C
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#29 Fernando Hernandez – RHP
#41 Adam Godwin – CF
#29 Ryan Langerhans – LF
#5 Chase Lambin – 2B
#24 Delwyn Young – 1B
#16 Travis Scott – DH
#6 Rusty Ryal – 3B
#4 Dominic Ramos – SS
#22 Koby Clemens – C
#2 Michael Rockett – RF
#30 David Pauley – RHP
Keep it here for updates from Constellation Field all afternoon long.
UPDATE (1:20): Seven-time NBA All-Star and Sugar Land Skeeters pitcher Tracy McGrady will be today’s guest on the North Shore LIJ/Southside Hospital pre-game show. Listen to the interview beginning just after 2:50 EDT/1:50 CDT by CLICKING HERE!
UPDATE (1:30): Skeeters just announced in the ballpark that the start time for today’s game has been pushed back to 2:15/2:20. Pre-game show will begin at the normal time. Keep it here for updates.
UPDATE (2:11): The tarp has been taken off the field in Sugar Land, and both teams are heading towards the field. We will start slightly delayed here today.
UPDATE (2:38): We are underway at Constellation Field!
UPDATE (2:46): Ducks strike first for a fifth consecutive game! Joash Brodin’s two-out RBI singles scores Lew Ford and puts the Flock up 1-0 in the first inning.
UPDATE (2:53): Fernando Hernandez works a 1-2-3 bottom of the first, striking out Ryan Langerhans and Chase Lambin in the process.
UPDATE (2:58): We are going to have another delay here in Texas. Severe weather warnings in the area have forced the stoppage. Both teams leaving the field for the time being. Stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE (3:26): Announcement just made that the severe weather warning has been extended. Expecting a longer delay than originally anticipated.
UPDATE (3:58): Play has resumed at Constellation Field!
UPDATE (4:11): Ducks add three in the second! Sergio Miranda scores on an error, and Ford collects a two-out, two-run single!
UPDATE (4:41): Tarp is coming back on the field. Rain delay number three on the day commencing.
UPDATE (5:00): Today’s game has officially been postponed as the skies have opened. Will be made up at a later date. Ducks were up 4-1 in the fourth.
Opening day is upon us, Ducks fans! At long last, April 25 is finally here and the Ducks are ready to begin their quest to become the first team in Atlantic League history to win three straight league championships. While six other ALPB teams got started last night, Long Island opens up tonight in the most fitting of settings: TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, N.J. It was at this very same ballpark some six-plus months ago that the Ducks hoisted the Atlantic League Championship trophy for the second consecutive year. Tonight, John Brownell, last year’s championship series MVP, toes the rubber for Long Island against Somerset Patriot righty Erik Arnesen. Coverage of tonight’s game begins at 6:50 p.m. on 103.9-FM, LI News Radio, with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. Live streaming audio will also be available at liducks.com.
With it being Opening Day, voting for the Ducks 15th Anniversary Team concludes with the “Final Vote.” Similar to the final vote for the MLB All-Star Game, this week we are taking the second place finishers in each previous position, and pinning them against each other for one final chance to make the “Flock 15” team. Fans can vote for one player, regardless of position, to represent the final member of the 15th Anniversary Team. Here are the nominees:
House might have been the best hitter and one of the best all-around players Long Island has seen. While he only spent one year with the Ducks in 2011, he certainly made it count. House proved to be an iron man and a defensive stalwart, playing 113 games and not committing a single error. In addition, he threw out 20% of baserunners trying to steal and helped lead the league’s best pitching staff which posted a 4.17 ERA. Offensively though was where House truly shined. He batted .305 with 19 home runs, 81 RBI, 73 runs, 128 hits and 22 doubles. House also rarely swung and missed. His 37 strikeouts were astronomically low for any batter. Not only did he lead the Ducks to the playoffs, but he brought the team all the way to the Atlantic League Championship Series for the first time since 2004. Following the season, House retired and is about to begin his first season as a professional baseball manager, serving as the skipper for the Single-A Hillsboro Hops in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.
Sing, who had an outstanding year with the Bridgeport Bluefish in 2009, was able to put together another impressive season in 2012 with the Ducks and helped Long Island end an eight-year title drought. The durable Illinois native played 119 games, and while his .284 average was slightly lower than normal, he crushed 26 home runs, drove in 78 runs, scored 78 times and added 31 doubles. He would’ve led the team in two-baggers if not for Ray Navarrete’s record-setting 50 that season. Then, he put together one of the best postseasons in Ducks history, batting .333 (13-for-39) with three home runs (all in the Liberty Division Championship Series) and eight RBI (including a game-tying single in the ninth inning of Game Two in the Atlantic League Championship Series). Sing was outstanding at the plate and provided some of the most clutch hits in franchise history. He now lives at home in Mississippi with his wife and son and provides youth baseball lessons.
Harrison donned a Ducks uniform for the franchise’s first three seasons (2000-02). He played 271 games in his career on Long Island, combining for a .286 batting average. While he wasn’t as much of a power threat, he drove in 102 runs and scored 156 during his tenure with the Flock. The California native also showed good speed on the basepaths, stealing 35 bases in 2000 and 17 the following year while combining for nine triples in his Ducks career. He never made more than 11 errors in a season at second base and provided some versatility as well with his ability to play well at shortstop when needed. Harrison played four more seasons of pro ball after his time on Long Island, reaching Triple-A with the Angels in 2003 and Double-A with the Rockies in 2004. He ended his career by spending two seasons with Long Beach in the Golden Baseball League.
When Alfonzo was signed prior to the 2007 season, Ducks fans were immediately excited. “Fonzie” had spent eight years with the New York Mets, earning a Silver Slugger Award, an All-Star appearance and a National League championship in the process. After spending the previous year with the Blue Jays and Angels, he came to the Ducks looking to finish out his career in one of the most respected leagues in baseball. In two seasons on Long Island, Alfonzo batted .289 with 13 home runs, 83 RBI, 90 runs and 36 doubles in 164 games. He played solid defense at shortstop as well but also showed some versatility by spending time at second and third base too. In terms of success, Alfonzo helped the Ducks to a pair of playoff appearances, including an outstanding 72-54 record in 2007. The Venezuela native resurfaced in the Atlantic League with the Newark Bears in 2010 before deciding to retire.
Prior to joining Long Island in 2001, Carlos Baerga had already been a 10-year Major League veteran, three-time All Star (1992-93, ‘95), and two-time Silver Slugger (1993-94). After spending 2000 out of baseball, Baerga started his road back to ‘The Show’ with Long Island in 2001. Although his time with the Ducks was short, Baerga was able to use the organization (and the Atlantic League) to help reignite his career. In 53 games that season, Baerga posted a .315 batting average, nine home runs, 44 RBI and three triples. These numbers earned Baerga a selection to play in the All-Star Game held in Newark, New Jersey. The Puerto Rico native also earned himself an opportunity to play in the Korean Baseball Organization where he would further impress Major League scouts. The following season, he became the first player in franchise history to make it back to the Major Leagues after playing on Long Island when he took the field for the Boston Red Sox. Baerga would go on to play 350 games with the Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Nationals over four seasons before retiring from the game in 2005.
Unlike all of the other outfield nominees, Brodin had never played in affiliated baseball before coming to Long Island. It was not until he parlayed his impressive 2013 season with the Ducks into a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, making him the fifth Duck to be signed by an MLB team that season. Acquired by Long Island in July of 2012, Brodin made his presence known, batting .369 with seven RBI in the 2012 postseason, earning a hit in all five games during the Atlantic League Championship Series. The Washington native returned for the 2013 season and hit .307 over 106 games with 11 home runs, 48 RBI, and 14 stolen bases. That earned the College of Charlestown alum an All-Star game selection. Brodin hit .300 over 155 games in his two years with the Ducks.
Arguably the most well-known name among designated hitter nominees, Everett had two monster years with Long Island. Playing in 219 games over the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Everett led all DH nominees in batting (.320) and home runs (54) while ranking second in RBI (197). The 14-year Major League veteran finished third in the league in home runs (25) and RBI (97) during his first season with the Ducks. Everett then improved on those numbers in 2008, batting .327 with 100 RBI and 29 home runs, a Ducks single-season record. The Florida native and former 10th overall pick in the 1990 draft retired from professional baseball in 2010 with 1,304 hits, 202 home runs and 792 RBI combined in the Major and Minor Leagues along with two MLB All-Star selections.
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.
Loree spent two seasons on Long Island (2011-12), but his first year with the Flock was without a doubt the best the franchise has ever seen. That year, the New Jersey native won a team-record 14 games while losing only five, posted a microscopic 1.98 ERA and struck out a league-leading 131 batters, which was also a Ducks record at the time. He also set a Ducks record for most strikeouts in a game with 14 on September 15 against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. That magical year was more than enough to earn Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year honors and the starting pitcher spot at the Atlantic League All-Star Game in York. Loree excelled in the 2011 postseason as well, leading the Ducks staff with a 2-0 record in three starts and allowing just three runs over 19 innings (1.10 ERA) with 17 strikeouts and two walks. The righty began the 2012 championship season with Long Island and made 18 starts before he was signed by the Lamigo Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. In 42 regular season appearances (37 starts) with the Flock, Loree tallied a 19-12 record with a 3.69 ERA, and 220 strikeouts in 227.0 innings. Those wins, strikeouts and innings pitched totals led all right-handed starter nominees.
Lansford represented the only reliever nominee that is currently on the Ducks roster. Brother of teammate Josh Lansford, Jared now enters his third season with the Flock. While his regular season numbers are impressive, it’s his postseason statistics that signify Lansford as a premier reliever in Ducks history. Over two championship runs in the postseason, the California native is 3-0 and has allowed just one run over 12 and one-third innings of work (0.73 ERA). In addition, Lansford has 13 strikeouts compared to just nine hits and one walk in 11 postseason appearances. During the regular season, Lansford is a combined 5-3 with a 3.61 ERA, nine saves and 88 strikeouts in 94 games (104 and two-thirds innings pitched). That includes a 2.98 ERA over 54 and one-third innings of work in 2012 and an All-Star Game selection in 2013.
Rosales was the only closer nominee that is currently on the Ducks active roster and has been a part of back-to-back championship teams on Long Island. He came to the Ducks in a late-season trade during the 2012 season and immediately filled a closer role the team needed. After tossing three scoreless innings in the regular season, he pitched six more games in the postseason, earning saves in all three victories over Southern Maryland in the Liberty Division Championship Series. The righty went on to earn the win in Game Five of the Atlantic League Championship Series to clinch the Ducks first title since 2004. The Los Angeles native returned again in 2013 and put together an All-Star season, going 2-2 with a 2.34 ERA, 18 saves and 45 strikeouts in 38 and one-third innings. He was even better in the playoffs, earning four saves total, three of which came in the ALCS against Somerset. The last of those saves came in Game Five against the Patriots to seal another championship for the Ducks.
There are your final vote nominees, Ducks fans. We understand that this is quite possibly the toughest decision yet. It is very important, however, as this will be the final player voted onto the 15th Anniversary Team. The official “Flock 15” team will be made available to fans in the Ducks Official 2014 Commemorative Yearbook at the home opener on Friday, May 2 at Bethpage Ballpark. Until then, Ducks fans; let’s play ball!