Category Archives: Alumni

News and info relating to former Fort Wayne Wizards

Chad Huffman’s MLB Debut

Chad Huffman became the 90th former Fort Wayne WizCap to debut in Major League Baseball. Taking the roster spot of the injured Marcus Thames, Huffman got his first hit in the third inning.

“I looked up on the jumbotron and saw my family jumping up and down,” Huffman said. “It was a great feeling… I’m going to give (the ball) to my mom so I don’t lose it.”

Huffman was a 2nd round selection of the San Diego Padres (53rd overall) in the 2006 amateur entry draft. With the Wizards in 2006, Huffman appeared in five games as the seasoned waned at Memorial Stadium. He started the following season at Lake Elsinore.

Huffman is the thirteenth player from the 2006 roster to make the Major Leagues. That is easily the most of any year, whether Wizards or TinCaps.

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Huffman Gets Call to Majors

Marcus Thames left in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game with a strained hamstring. He will be placed on the disabled list and his spot will be taken by former Fort Wayne Wizard, Chad Huffman.

The Yankees claimed Huffman on waivers from the Padres in April. With Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he was hitting .279/.344/.416 with five homers and 22 RBIsin 190 at-bats.

Huffman was a 2nd round selection of the San Diego Padres (53rd overall) in the 2006 amateur entry draft. With the Wizards in 2006, Huffman appeared in five games as the seasoned waned at Memorial Stadium. He started the following season at Lake Elsinore.

Former Wizards in Recent Minor Moves

Was just checking on Minor League transactions via Baseball America. Here’s some WizCaps notes I thought I would mention:

  • The Yankees have added former Wizards and veteran MLB catcher, Chad Moeller to their 40-man roster.
  • For the Padres, Second baseman Josh Barfield and lefty pitcher Cory Luebke are off the disabled list. Drew Miller has retired.
  • The Mariners have reinstated pitcher, David Pauley from the inactive list.

Lance Zawadzki Makes MLB Debut

After waiting a couple days since being called up, former Fort Wayne Wizard, Lance Zawadzki made his MLB Debut. Slotted for eighth in the starting lineup, Zawadzki came to the plate in the bottom have of the third inning and singled to shallow right in his first Major League at-bat. A garland bunt sacrifice moved the former Wizard to second. He then scored on a Tony Gwynn Jr. triple.

He grounded out to third in his second at-bat, which came in the next inning. In the fifth, Zawadzki was intentionally walked with two outs to get to the pitcher, Garland, who promptly ended the inning. In the bottom of the seventh, Zawadski popped out to right center to end the inning with fellow former Wizard, Will Venable on second.

Joining Zawadzki in the Padres lineup, in addition to Venable, were former Wizards Chase Headley, Kyle Blanks and Chase Headley. From the visitors’ dugout, the Brewers lineup included former Wizards catcher, George Kottaras, and relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins.

Yeah. That’s a game that included seven who played A-ball in Fort Wayne. Not too shabby.

Photo by Chad Gramling, autograph obtained in person at Memorial Stadium on June 29, 2008.

Related BBIFW Lance Zawadzki Posts:

WizCaps Where R They? 2010

Thought I would take a little time and update where many of the former Wizards and TinCaps are playing currently:

Let’s start with the easiest – that being the Padres. On their active roster, are former WizCaps, Mat Latos, Wade LeBlanc, Nick Hundley, Chase Headley, Lance Zawadzki, Kyle Blanks and Will Veneble. Others who are on their 40-man roster (but not active roster) are; Ernesto Frieri, Seve Garrison, Cesar Ramos, Matt Antonelli, and Luis Durango.

After having been released by the Padres during spring, Chad Huffman was quickly picked up by the Yankees. Padres front-office exec Paul DePodesta expressed regret. Friar Forecast called it “no big deal.” In 14 games with the Triple-A Scranton Wiles-Barre Yankees, Huffman is batting .204 with 3 home runs and 5 RBI. He’s struck out 12 time sin 54 at-bats.

Leo Rosales is still in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ organization and has seen big league action this year. However, he has landed on the DL due to a stress fracture in his right foot. Oddly, he first felt discomfort when he got fellow Fort Wayne alumnus Kyle Blanks (Padres) to ground into a double play

Luke Carlin is nearby in Indianapolis with the the Pittsburgh Pirate’s Triple-A Affiliate, the Indy Indians. The catcher is putting up some pretty solid offensive numbers in 13 games so far on the young season.

Another former ‘zards catcher, Jose Lobaton, is now in the Tampa Bay organization. He served as the backup for two days while Dioner Navarro served a two-game suspension last week. He’s since been optioned back to Triple-A. Also on the Durham Bulls’ roster are former Wizards Dale Thayer and J.J. Furmaniak.

Eddie Bonine is putting logging some big leage innings with Detroit. Perhaps the return of his knuckleball is the magic formula this time around.

“He’s a very useable big league pitcher,” Leyland said of the 28-year-old. “Will he knock your lights out? No. But he’s been a winner wherever he’s been.”

The Camden Riversharks seems to be the preferred indy team for former Wizards. Their current roster includes pitchers Travis Chick and Jon Ellis as well as infielders Brett Bonvechio and Brian Burgamy.

Everyone’s favorite wipping boy, Matt Bush is trying to not only save his career but redeem his life with the Tampa Bay Rays. On the season, he’s seen one game with the class A+ Charlotte Stone Crabs.

Dirk Hayhurst remains with Toronto – but he’s also gained a lot of attention for his New York Times Bestseller, The Bullpen Gospels. He’s also got his own site/blog. Unfortunately, he is likely to miss most of the season following shoulder surgery in February.

Freddy Guzman is in the Phillies organization. He’s currently assigned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Jared Wells is currently with the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks of the Houston Astros organization.

Wilton Lopez is with the Houston Astros organization, currently playing at Triple-A Round Rock, but he has seen big league action on the season already and he remains on the 40-man roster. Another former Wizard, Yordany Ramirez is also on the 40-man roster, but has yet to see big league action at any point in his career. He too is at Triple-A and is hitting .265 with a home run and 6 RBI over 16 games.

Rockies DFA Former Wizard, Juan Rincon

Former Fort Wayne Wizards pitcher, Juan Rincon was designated for assignment Saturday by the Colorado Rockies to make room for right-hander Esmil Rogers.

Rincon is a 10-year MLB veteran.

“He was still here in the organization because of the way he was treated last year,” Colorado manager Jim Tracy said. “He gained respect as a player, as a man who poured his heart and soul into it the way he did last year. I’m a firm believer that the truth never hurt anybody. When I called him into the office, I just told him the truth.”

Rincon was in his second season with the Rockies and 10th as a Major Leaguer. He’s appeared in 443 games during stints with the Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers and Rockies. He has a career 4.04 ERA with 466 strikeouts over 506 innings.

Rincon, was once among the top setup men in the game. He signed with the Twins organization as a 17-year-old from Venezuela in 1996 and joined the Wizards in 1998. With the ‘zards that year, he went 6-4 with a 3.83 ERA and 74 strikeouts over 96.1 innings pitched.

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Padres Call Up Former Wizard, Lance Zawadzki

The San Diego Padres have called up former Fort Wayne Wizards infielder, Lance Zawadzki. The move was made possible when the Padres placed Evereth Cabrera on the disabled list and moved another former Wizard, Matt Antonelli to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster.

In 17 games with Triple-A Portland, Zawadzki is hitting .162 on the season with 8 runs on 11 hits.He was with the Padres in Spring Training this year, appearing in 18 games were he hit .308 with 8 hits and 5 RBI over 26 at-bats.

With the Wizards in 2008, he appeared in 119 games, hitting .273 with 66 runs, 7 dingers, 58 RBI and 54 walks. He also swiped a career high 28 bases.

Zawadski is not in the starting lineup tonight, but I’ll keep a watch  and recap his debut when/if he makes it.

Related BBIFW Lance Zawadzki Posts:

Jon Link’s MLB Debut

The first former Fort Wayne alumnus to make his MLB debut in 2010 is Jon Link, who was traded from the Chicago White Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the Juan Pierre deal during the offseason. Overall, he is the 88th former Fort Wayne-er to make his MLB debut.

With Cincinnati leading he Dodgers 9-5, Link entered the game in relief of Ramon Ortiz (who was relieving starter Chad Billingsley). Fortunately, Link was able to stop the bleeding with a one-two-three inning; getting batters Hernandez and Cairo to groung out before coaxing Stubbs to fly out to right center.

He returned for the eight inning, where he got Cabrera to ground out to third before walking Joey Votto who was promptly caught stealing. Then Brandon Phillips popped out to end the inning. Link was lifted in the bottom half of the eight for a pinch hitter.

I have not blogged about Jon Link much over the years, but I have been following his career since starting this “project.” Last year, I noted that he was one that might debut in 2009. I was wrong, but it didn’t take long in 2010.

With the Wizards in 2006, Link appeared in 53 games with a 4.91 EAR while striking out 57 over 62.1 innings pitched to go with a 5-5 record.

Link was 1-2 with a 3.99 ERA and 13 saves in 48 games at Triple-A Charlotte in 2009. He was acquired by the Sox in 2007 season in a trade with San Diego for Rob Mackowiak.

Interesting side-note: Link is the first former WizCap to debut with the Dodgers. If I have counted right, that makes 19 different teams that one has debuted with.

Off Season Catchup: Huffman, Ramos, Chang, Carlin, Castro, Grube

Okay, I know I took the offseason off. Probably will not get back to posting as frequently as in the past, but the locla landscape has changed a lot and there is plenty of news sites out there to keep you in the know. I’ll do what I can to supplement with intriguing and interesting content as time allows.

Here’s a recap of some offseason news and info you might have missed:

Matt Stairs is the first position player in the modern era to play for 12 teams. It comes at the expense of former Wizard, Chad Huffman, who was DFA’d by the Padres. I personally don’t understand that move.

They also added lefty Cesar Ramos when they put Joe Thatcher on the DL. He’s excited to be back with the big club after having made his debut last year.

Former Wizards infielder, Ray Chang is playing for the Double-A Portland Salt Dogs in the Red Sox’s organization.

Former Wizards catcher, Luke Carlin could not crack the Pittsburgh lineup and was sent down. Good chance he’ll be playing in Indiana again – with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians.

Former DeKalb High School standout and Colorado Rockies farmhand, Jarrett Grube returns to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. He joined them midway through the 2009 season. Although he was used as a reliever during his Coloradotenure “Grube excelled as a starter for Southern Maryland last season. In 16 total appearances he started 12 times, and put together a 3-1 record with a 3.36 ERA. He struck out 56 opposed to just 21 walks in 75 innings.”

In other Indy League news, former Wizards infielder, Brett Bonvechio signed a one-year contract with the Camden Riversharks of the Atlantic League.

Former TinCaps’ pitcher, Simon Castro captured a lot of attention this spring. Particularly, from former Wizards catcher, Nick Hundley:

“Castro has been amazing,” Hundley said. “He’s got great energy. He has really got a feel for every one of his pitches. I didn’t realize he was as advanced as he is.”

The Padres’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year went 10-6 with a 3.33 ERA in 28 games and was a big part of the TinCaps taking the Midwest League crown.

Former Wizard, David Freese Secures Cards’ 3B Gig

As the month of March came to a close, Cardinals’ Manager Tony LaRussa told former Fort Wayne Wizard, David Freese that he will be their s primary and Opening Day third baseman. The news came as the Cardinals were preparing to face the Mets in a Spring Trianing Game and following a tumultuous year tha had many questioning if Freese would be able to overcome some misteps that included an auto accident, heel injury, DUI and a disappointing 2009 campaign.

He entered an employee-assistance program and has not had a drink since.

“It hasn’t been the easiest road,” he said. “I think mentally it’s made me tougher, from everything that’s happened. I just came in here focused. I had a lot of baggage walking in this year, but I’m real happy with the support I’ve had from everybody from top to bottom. I grinded it out and earned the job.”

Cardinals’ hitting coach, Mark McGwire, has indicated that putting Freese lower in the lineup could “be a transformative presence” in the team’s lineup.

He could add “depth and that run producer that comes after the middle of our order,” McGwire said. It has helped Freese that in the last week or so of camp he’s relaxed, and he has not been pushing to make every throw a highlight or every swing a home run.

Related BBIFW David Freese Posts:

David Freese’s MLB Debut

David Freese Again the Favorite at Third

Former Wizards Likely to Debut in 2009 – Part I

Freese for Edmonds: Former Wizards Infielder Traded to Cardinals