Category Archives: Indy Leagues

Former Wizard, Kennard Jones Returning to Newark Bears

Former Wizard, Kennard Jones has signed with the Newark Bears for the 2010 season.

“Kennard is an established professional who has put up good numbers in this league,” said General Manager R.C. Reuteman. “He has both speed and defensive ability which will solidify our outfield in the upcoming season.”

Jones, the son-in-law of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, begins his eighth season of professional baseball; his third stint in the Atlantic League. The Cleveland native started the 2009 season in York and put together a.271 average with 85 hits, 46 runs scored and 21 RBIs for the Revolution. He was traded to the Bears prior to the season’s end.

The 28 year-old was selected by the Padres in the 3rd Round (85th overall) out of Indiana U in the 2002 amateur entry draft. He made it as far as Triple-A Portland in 2005 and 2006.

Also of note, Jones and his wife Anisha were featured on an episode of the WE TV series “Platinum Weddings” that was originally broadcast in January. (hat tip to Paul’s Random Stuff)

Related Kennard Jones Posts:

Half Way There: A Mid-Season Look at Estranged Friars

Kennard Jones Resigns with York Revolution

York Revolution Trying Out “Short” Fort Wayne Native

Fort Fragments: TinCaps, Wizards, Baxter, Pickett, Huber, Parker

MLB.com takes a look at some of the Padres’ recent draft picks as we near the 2009 Amateur Entry Draft. Those picks include 2009 TinCaps Jaff Decker, Allan Dykstra, Nick Schmidt as well as former Wizards, Matt Antonelli,  Wynn Pelzer and Kyle Blanks.

ESPN’s Peter Gammons notes that Jarrod Parker is one of the up and comers who are going to be the future cornerstones for the Dieamondbacks’ pitching staff. No news flash here, but it’s pretty impressive that Gammons is taking note of a local product.

The Lancaster Barnstormers (Indy League) feature two former Wizards, L.J. Biernbaum and Jon Huber. Both helped the team to recently polish off their seventh straight win.

Speaking of Indy Leagues, former Wizards catcher, Justin Pickett is now playing with the Florence Freedom of the Frontier League. He recently collected his first hit in a walk-off win. pickett played last season in the Texas Rangers’ system. Not like there weren’t a load of other catchers blocking him there!

One blogger is pretty excited about doing some work on an upcoming TinCaps commercial.

Former Wizard, Mike Baxter is emerging as an offensive force. the San Antonio Missions outfielder was awarded Texas League Player of the Week honors

His hitting played a big part in helping the Missions win 13 of 18 games, including a 9-3 victory at Frisco on May 23. On May 22, he went 5-for-5 with a double, driving in four runs and scoring a pair to help the Missions extend their winning streak to five games. The next day, he went 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored. By week’s end he’d hit safely in 14 of 15 games to elevate is batting average from .308 to .353 (No. 3 in league), having collected 18 RBIs, 10 of his 18 doubles and 14 runs scored in that span. “He’s the guy really doing the damage right now,” manager Terry Kennedy told the San Antonio Express-News.

Freddy Guzman has been signed to a Minor League deal by the Boston Red Sox. he had been with Seattle in Spring Training but was released after not making the team.

In case you missed it, I recently had a letter to the editor published.

York Revolution Trying Out “Short” Fort Wayne Native

At 3-foot-2, it may seem unlikely that Fort Wayne native, Dave Flood would try out for an independant baseball team. But the York (PA) Revolution’s “experiment” is more than a novelty a la Bill Veeck’s infamous plating of 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel in 1951.

The York Revolution roster also includes former Fort Wayne Wizard, Kennard Jones. Flood also has had careers as a radio personality and a stand up comic.

Growing up in Fort Wayne, Ind., Flood had to adjust to life as the only little person in his family. His brother stands 6-foot-1, he said. His father encouraged him to do things himself. So if he wanted a drink, he had to learn how to step on the refrigerator’s crisper drawer to reach the drinks on the top shelf.

“Just call me Dave,” he said. “I’m not little, I’m short. There’s a difference.”

Good luck Dave!

Bonvechio Returning to Camden

Former Wizard, Brett Bonvechio will return for a second stint with the Camden Riversharks of the Atlantic League.

Last season, he played both first and third base for the team, and compiled a .227 batting average while driving in 39 runs. Mid-season, he signed with the Winston-Salem Dash, the White Sox’s A team in the Carolina League.

 Bonvechio was originally selected by the Boston Red Sox in 37th round (1112nd overall) of 2000 amateur draft. He was acquired by the Padres in May of 2004 for Henri Stanley, whom they had claimed off waivers from the Houston Astros. While with the Wizards in 2004, Bonvechio hit .237 with a .309 OBP, nine home runs and 45 RBI’s in 304 at-bats over 82 games.

Kennard Jones Resigns with York Revolution

Former Fort Wayne Wizard outfielder, Kennard Jones has agreed to rejoin the York Revolution of the independant Atlantic League for the 2009 baseball season.

Jones joined the Revolution in June last season, and quickly became the sparkplug in the leadoff spot that helped lead one of the league’s most explosive offenses during the second half run. “K.J.” finished the season tied for fourth in the league with a .333 batting average, best in Revolution history, including a .408 clip during his final 25 games, leading the Revs’ playoff push. He also authored the greatest offensive performance in team history on June 30, going 6-for-6 with a three-run walk-off homerun, the Revs’ first-ever, in a ten-inning win over the Newark Bears. Jones led the club with 17 stolen bases last season.

Jones also played his college ball at Indiana University. He was drafted in the thrid round (number 85 overall) of the 2002 amateur draft. He palyed a total of 101 games in Fort Wayne during parts of the 2002 and 2003 seasons. Of those, 81 came during 2003 when he hit .307 with a .401 OBP, 61 runs 30 runs batted in and 20 stolen bases.

Tyler Davis Signs with Southern Illinois Miners of Frontier League

Today, the Southern Illinois Miners announced the signing of former Wizards pitcher, Tyler Davis:

“I am very excited to add Tyler to our bullpen this season,” Miners Manager Mike Pinto said. “He has had great success along the way and has been a very effective ground ball pitcher. It really gives us another strong arm late in the game. This is a really nice signing for us.”

Tyler Davis with the Wizards in 2008 

Davis was a 21st round draft choice (657th overall) of the San Diego Padres in 2007. Until last year’s 1-4 and 4.18 ERA stint with the Wizards, Davis seemed to have the right stuff. In 2007, he appeared in 16 games at the rookie league level and posted a 3-0 record with a 0.83 ERA. He was promoted to Fort Wayne and posted a 1.16 ERA over eight innings pitched in six games. He did get a short stint with Triple-A Portland before the end fo the season and was ultimate released by the Padres in November 2008. 

The Miners play in the independant Frontier League.

Photos and image editing by Chad Gramling.

Sean Thompson to Evansville of the Frontier League

Over the last couple days, I have taken note of an increase in visits to the Wizards Where R They? segment I did on Sean Thompson last summer. As is usually the case when something like this happens, Thompson’s named poped up in one of my news feeds. As a result, the following addendum has been added:

Update (01/10/2009): Thompson is coming back to Indiana in 2009. The Evansville Otters of the Frontier League have announced that the lefty has signed with the team (hat tip to Friar John).

Might be a fun road trip for 2009 to go down and catch some Indy-League ball and catchup with the former Wizard hurler.

Wizards Where R They? – Eddie Pena

Eddie Pena with the Wizards in 2006Back in 2006, one of my favorite Wizards was Eddie Pena. He was a sidearmer who came out of the bullpen brimming with excitement and reminding me of J.J. Trujillo.

He appeared in 27 games for the Wizards after spending 2005 in the Can-Am League with the Worchester Tornadoes.

In 2006, he bounced around all levels – extended spring training to Fort Wayne, to Double-A and to Triple-A  – and not necissarily in the order you would consider logical or normal.

With Fort Wayne, he compiled an aggregate 0-2 record that included a 3.99 earned run average and 38 strikeouts over 47.1 innings pitched.

“I was in Ft. Wayne for about a month and a half, as a long reliever,” said Pena. “I got a bunch of two or three-inning stints and totaled about 20 innings and worked to an earned run average of just above four. I lived in an apartment with two other guys during my stay. The Padres signed a couple of free agents so they sent me back to extended spring training. I was a little bummed about it (getting sent down) but I understand this is a business” [source: Georgetown University]

That’s a pretty rough way to go into the Midwest League. But in two games at Double-A Mobile that year, he gave up no runs over 3.2 innings while striking out 2 and surrendering 2 hits. At Triple-A Portland, he got blasted for five hits, four earned runs and five walks over 6.1 innings pitched to put together a 5.69 ERA.

By 2007, Pena was back in the Can-Am League, again with the Worchester Tornadoes. He went 5-3 with a 5.56 ERA and 36 strikeouts over 45.1 innings pitched. In 2008, Pena’s contract was sold to the Chicago White Sox, but he was released that April rather than being assigned to any of their farm teams. with Worchester he went 6-5 with a 3.42 ERA and 44 strikeouts over 79 innings pitched. He also picked up the first nine saves of his career; eeight coming in the second half.

Pena was simply phenomenal out of the Tornadoes bullpen in the Second Half of ’08, posting a 3-2 record, a stingy 1.97 ERA and 8 Saves after the midpoint of the season.  The sidewheeling sinkerballer finished the year with a 3.42 ERA, good for 7th-best in the league and the only relief pitcher to crack the top-10. [Source: Worchester Tornadoes]

They’ve already exercised their option on him for 2009. Perhaps if he can continue to pitch the same as he did int he second half of 2008, another MLB team will come calling for his services and give him one more shot!

Anthony Contreras: From Indy League to Fort Wayne

Anthony ContrerasLate in June, the Lincoln Saltdogs of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball announced they had sold the contract of infielder, Anthony Contreras to the San Diego Padres, who assigned him to the Fort Wayne Wizards.

With Lincoln, he hit .312 in 44 games for Lincoln, with 21 RBI and 21 runs scored at the time of the transaction.

It’s been a little over a month since then. Over that time, Contreras has appeared in 19 games for the Wizards and turned in a respectable .303 average to go with his  20 hits and a stolen base.

He’s struck out 13 times and drawn only 6 walks and 6 runs batted in over 66 at-bats, but he’s produced in other areas on the field.

“He swung the bat real well, but it’s particularly nice you can play him anywhere on the field,” Wizards manager Doug Dascenzo said. “He looks good at short, at second. Swinging the bat is a bonus” [source: LaMond Pope]

But his versatility means more than just someone to put at the position. His defense at short recently received high praise from Dascenzo. During a game at the Castle on July 27th, Contreras ranged into short left field to snag a ground ball that was hit by Peoria catcher Mario Mercedes. Contreras got it and then jumped in the air while turning to fire the ball to first. It was there a couple steps before Mercedes.

“Those are the kind of plays you see at the Major League level,” Wizards manager Doug Dascenzo said. “That was something else. He put the throw right on the money” [source:  Journal Gazette] .

It capped a big night for Contreras. Not only did he make a game saving play, he collected two hits and scored the winning run for a 3-2 Wizards’ victory.

He was originally selected in the ninth round of the 2005 draft (number 288 overall) by the San Francisco Giants out of San Jose State. He spent three seasons in their farm system; hitting .259 with 40 doubles, three triples, three home runs, 117 runs batted in over 271 games – at at the A or High A level. In 2006, Contreras put together his best professional season en route to being selected as a South Atlantic League All-Star. The Giants released him this spring before he caught on with Lincoln.

Photo by Chad Gramling.