Category Archives: Wizards Where R They?

Sort of a “Whatever Happened to…” where the blogger discusses the paths that former Wizards have taken following their stint(s) in Fort Wayne).

WizCaps Where R They? – Paul McAnulty

Paul McAnulty was selected in round twelve (355th overall) by the San Diego Padres in 2002. In 2005, he made his Major League Debut with the Padres and saw Big League action in each of the next three seasons. In 2009, he played at the Triple-A level for both the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies.

With the Fort Wayne Wizards in 2003, McAnulty appeared in 133 games. He hit .273 with 7 homers and 73 RBI while mostly manning the first base and designated hitter roles.

McAnulty is one of five position players from the 2003 squad to reach the Majors. Shortstop Luis Cruz, catchers Colt Morton and Luke Carlin and outfielder Drew Macias being the others. Pitchers, Dale Thayer, David Pauley (who recently made it back with the Mariners) and Jon Huber also made the Majors, for a total of eight from the 2003 Wizards team that lost in the first round of the playoffs.

In 90 games for Triple-A Pawtucket, he hit .233 with 20 doubles, 11 home runs and 48 RBI. In 20 games for Triple-A Colorado Springs, he hit .182 with three doubles, two home runs and six RBI.

In the offseason, McAnulty signed with the LAA Angels. He’s appeared in 29 games for the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees, hitting .360 with eight doubles, four dingers and 26 RBI. In 44 games with the Double-A Arkansas Travelers, he hit .331 with three doubles, a triple, 14 home runs and 27 RBI.

Today, McAnulty was recalled by the Angels, seeing Big League action for the first time since 2008:

“These guys have been around,” Scioscia said. “They have a little Major League experience, they’ve been playing in Triple-A for a long time. They’re really veteran-type players. Both can swing the bat and that’s something that we need a little depth in right now.”

Related BBIFW Paul McAnulty Posts:

Wizards Where R They? – David Pauley

In 2001, the San Diego Padres drafted David Pauley out of high school in the eighth round. In 2003 with the Wizards, he posted a 7-7 record with a 3.29 earned run average to go along with 117 strikeouts and 38 bases on balls over 117.2 innings pitched. He started in 21 of his 22 games and did earn one save as a Wizard.

By 2004, Pauley had received recognition by Baseball America as the seventh best prospect in the San Diego Padres organization. However, after the 2004 season, San Diego shipped Pauley to the Boston Red Sox along with Jay Payton and Ramon Vazquez plus cash in exchange for speedy Dave Roberts.

In May of 2006, Pauley made his Major League debut, starting against the Toronto Blue Jays. He was called up from Boston’s Double-A affiliate at the time (Portland) to spot start for the injured David Wells. He allowed six runs on 11 hits over just 4 and two-thirds innings. However, despite the poor first outing, the Red Sox did win 8-6.

“I was definitely nervous,” Pauley said. “I knew it was going to be tough. I thought I dealt with it pretty well. It’s just a stepping stone to my next one” [source: YahooSports]

He appeared in two more games with Boston during the remainder of the 2006 season, pitching in a total of 16 innings, while also pitching with the Red Sox’s Triple-A squad. Pauley pitched all of 2007 in Triple-A Pawtucket.

In 2008, Pauley began the year with Triple-A Pawtucket where he went 14-4 with a 3.55 ERA and 103 strikeouts over 147 innings pitched. In August, he returned to the Fenway mound – but it was against the Charlotte Knights in a “Futures at Fenway” game. He went seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out four en route to his thirteenth victory of that season in front of 36,000 spectators.

Pauley did get the chance to pitch a couple innings in relief with the Red Sox in September. The moves that Boston makes over the course of this offseason will likely play big into Pauley’s future. He is on Boston’s 40-man roster and therefore not in jeopardy of being snagged in the upcoming Rule-5 Draft. His solid season in Pawtucket seems to indicate that he has figured out Triple-A and is looking for his place at the next level. Whether he can crack the rotation in Boston or land a place in the bullpen remains to be seen.

Pauley mixes a very good sinker with a low 90s fastball with good movement,  a good changeup, and a nice curveball.   Has 5th starter potential at the MLB level. Pauley has demonstrated solid success against AAA competition for extended periods of time, but has yet to impress much at the big league level, although he hasn’t been given much of an opportunity. Needs to improve his control somewhat.   Gives up a lot of home runs.  Good fielder with a strong pick-off move [soxprospects.com].

Boston also has to fill the catcher and fourth outfielder spot; which could be filled by former Wizards George Kottaras and Paul McAnulty (though it is unlikely). Boston has been known to pull of some solid trades in recent years, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pauley get shipped or slotted in at the number five role, which is currently available to my knowledge.

Regardless, it seems that Pauley should and will be entering Spring Training in 2009 with his eyes set on winning a job on the Major League roster.

Update – January 19th, 2009: OMG! I was right! David Pauley got traded . . . to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for pitcher, Randor Bierd. Hopefully Pauley will get a good shot at cracking the Major League roster.

Update – July 4, 2010: David Pauley was granted ffree agency from the Orioles in November of 2009 and he signed with the Seattle Mariners about a month later. Through 2010, Pauley had been 1-6 with a 3.68 earned run average in 15 games for the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers. Last week, he was called up to the Bigs when Mike Sweeney went on the DL. Pauley hasn’t allowed a run in three innings since being recalled.

Wizards Where R They?: Michael Restovich

In late 1998, a young Michael Restovich joined the Fort Wayne Wizards. He batted .444 in 11 games. Had the Wizards remained an affiliate of the Twins in 1999, Fort Wayne would have seen him back at the Castle, where he probably would have posted a great extended encore.

That year, Baseball America ranked Restovich highly among top prospects – an honor he claimed through 2003. As the Padres moved into Fort Wayne, the Twins shifted to Quad Cities. The outfielder opened the season with a 10-game hitting streak and ended it ranked second in the Midwest League in RBIs, fourth in homers, fifth in on-base percentage (.412) and total bases (253) and seventh in average. Along the way, he was named Midwest League Player of the Week for April 8-17, put together another 10-game hitting streak in June, and drove in seven runs in one game on May 25th. Following that season’s performance, Baseball America said he was the fourth-best prospect in the Midwest League.

By 2002, Michael Restovich had made it to Minnesota to play for the Twins, who had drafted him in the second round of the 1997 Draft (number 61 overall). He saw eight games of MLB action that year.

Restovich saw a combined 55 games of Big League action over the next two seasons as the Twins continued to develop their prospect at the Triple-A level. Indeed, he had the power stroke, hitting 16 and 20 home runs while at Triple-A Rochester in 2003 and 2004 respectively.

Since that time, he’s also played for Colorado, Pittsburgh, the Cubs, Washington and even played the 2008 season in Japan for Fukuoka in the Japanese Pacific League.

His peculiar sojourn began in 2005 following an off-season injury, breaking his collar bone after slipping on ice. Not only did it slow his progress and development, the packed outfield in Minnesota at the time made things difficult for the former Wizard.

He attended Spring Training with the Twins, but found himself placed on waivers and claimed by Tampa Bay. He was in that organization for all of a week before he was again a waiver claim – this time by the Colorado Rockies. He saw 14 big leage games with them, hitting .290 with a home run in that span.

He was then traded to Pittsburgh for a player to be named (which I believe turned out to be cash considerations). He appeared in 52 games with the Pirates, but his offensive production didn’t seem to come with him. He hit just .214 with 24 strikeouts in 84 at-bats. They released him following the season. The Cubs signed him to a Minor League deal, though he did see 10 games of Big League action. However, despite putting up respectable numbers at Triple-A Iowa, his offense remained AWOL, hitting .167 with no runs and one RBI.

Restovich signed with the Nationals for the 2007 season. Much like 2006, most of the year was spent at Triple-A. In his 15 big league games, he hit .143. Again, no runs and one lone RBI. 2008 was spent in Japan despite an opportunity to play in the Phillies organization, before returning in 2009 with the White Sox as a non-roster invitee. He spent all of 2009 with Triple-A Charlotte, but his offense seemed to return. He hit .290 with 21 home runs and 61 RBI.

In January of this year, Restoivich signed a Minor League deal with the Dodgers and was assigned to Triple-A Albuquerque. He’s batting .278 with 4 home runs and 16 RBI over 38 games. Somewhat intersting is the fact that he is a teammate of Jon Link (2006) – another former Wizard. The fact that they are both former Wizards is not all that interesting.Former Wizards end up as teammates – even outside the parent club – quite often.

Here’s the interesting part…

On the one hand, you have Link… an up and coming hurler who traces his Fort Wayne roots to a Single-A Padres affiliate. And then there is Restovich. He cut his Single-A teeth with 11 brief games as part of a team that was the last of the Minnesta era in Fort Wayne.

On the one hand, you have Link… a guy that was traded to bring Rob Mackowiak to San Diego in 2007. About that same time, Restovich looked to be playing the part of a talented slugger who had an unfortunate injury that might end his Major League hopes.

On the one hand, you have Link… a former Wizard brought to the Dodgers in a trade for Juan Pierre. Shortly after, he makes his Major League debut but still spends most of his time in the minors. And on the other hand, you have Restovich… a talented former up and comer who has refused to give up.

It’s an interesting crossroad that makes baseball great. Two men sharing a common bond of Fort Wayne baseball roots – but at different points in their careers. The dream is the same for each. The path from here is the same for each. And the opportunity is there for them both.

Here’s to hoping they get what they’re pursuing.

Looking for more WizCaps Where R They? Look Here.

Wizards Where R They: Kyler Burke

Kyler Burke was selected by the San Diego Padres in the supplemental first round of the 2006 First Year Player Draft (35th overall). As a senior at Ooltewah High School in Tennessee he batted .459 with 20 homers and 58 RBIs in 45 games. While in Fort Wayne with the Wizards in 2007, Burke hit .211 with 45 hits and 1 home run in 213 at-bats.
Then he was traded to the Chicago Cubs with Fort Wayne native, Rob Bowen, in return for Michael Barrett. Interestingly, Burke is the only one of the three to still be with the organization he was traded to as a result of that trade.

But the stay has not been easy for Burke.

The 21-year-old Burke endured a disappointing 2008 season that saw his confidence drop and his status with Baseball America ‘s prospect ratings basically fall off.

“Every guy is different. How they learn and how they develop and the pace they learn is very unpredictable,” Chicago Cubs minor-league hitting coordinator Dave Keller said. “The things he went through, being in (the Hawaiian Winter League) and going through that and some of the adversity he went through the last couple of years, he’s learning from all that and applying it in a game” [PJStar.com]

Through his first 50 games with Peoria in 2009, Burke is hitting .282 with 50 hits, 27 runs and a league leaging 22 doubles. He’s hit 4 homers with 25 runs batted in and 5 stolen bases. It’s a perfomance that is good enough to earn him a Midwest League All-Star Selection.  

Photo: Kyler Burke during an at-bat at Memorial Stadium – by Chad Gramling

Shawn Garrett Retires

I highly encourage you to check out this great Bloomberg article by Scott Soshnick. In it, he details the career of former Wizard, Shawn Garrett, as one of the clean atheletes of the game, and one of the victims of the now storied “steroid era” that has played out . . .

Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski in a recent column wrote about the one guy he’d love to find — the clean player of the steroids era. Not just the guy who didn’t use, but the guy who was offered the shortcut; the guy who smelled fame and fortune and said no anyway.

Well, Joe, meet Shawn Garrett, who in 1998 got $50,000 when he signed with the San Diego Padres out of Olney Central College in Illinois.

Garrett retired last week after 11 bus-riding seasons in the minors. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Garrett was a multiple All- Star who called it quits with a career batting average of .291 to go along with 116 home runs over 1,228 games.

A little more pop in that bat and who knows. The dream died, though. Garrett never got the call, the one every minor- leaguer dreams of, the one where his manager summons him to the office and tells him that he’s going to The Show.

See also: Wizards Where R They? – Shawn Garrett

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? – Fernando Valenzuela Jr.

There’s some sort of novelty about second generation baseball players that I seem abnormally attracted to following. I guess it’s the fact that baseball runs I the blood ffor those players an I somehow fantasize that the players really “get” the spirit of the game.

The most fabled, of course, are the likes of Bobby and Barry Bonds or Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. The Sandy Alomar and his son, Roberto and Sandy Jr. also immediately come to mind. In Fort Wayne, the baseball family ties run deep on the local level. I’ve e-mailed and spoken with men and women who have connected with their fathers and brothers (and on occasion, mothers) through baseball.

The Wizards have also had their share of second generation baseball players. I immediately think of Josh Barfield (Jesse’s son), Will Venable (Max’s son) and Fernando Valenzuela Jr. I’ve documented Josh Barfield and Will Venable considerably here on this site. So now, I want to turn my attention to Valenzuela.

Fernando Valenzuela Jr. as a Wizard in 2004

The junior Valenzuela was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 10th Round (281st overall) of 2003 amateur entry draft after having played at UNLV. He signed and broke in his spikes with the Padre’s Low-A team in Eugene, seeing 73 games of professional action.

As a prospect, Valenzuela was said to have inadequate power and speed for a first baseman:

He should be able to maintain a good batting average and OBP at higher levels. But his swing is more of a line-drive stroke at this point, and his home run power hasn’t been good enough for a first baseman. He knocked just 11 homers last year, and with a career slugging percentage of only .391 so far, it remains to be seen how he’ll fit in at higher levels. He doesn’t run well enough to play the outfield, and he’ll have to boost his power production to remain a prospect as a first baseman [John Sickels, ESPN].

The following year, Valenzuela played the full season with the Fort Wayne Wizards and produced a solid showing that might have led one to predict a good future for the youngster. Valenzuela led the team with 148 hits while collecting 28 doubles and 81 runs batted. He slugged 11 home runs and produced a .295 batting average in a league that is typically dominated by strong pitching.

In 2005, Valenzuela was promoted to Lake Elsinore, where he produced pretty much the same results, with a slightly higher strikeout rate. Despite the showing, he was released, largely because he was blocked by other strong first base prospects in the system. In researching the timeline, it seems that the Padres were forced to decide between Valenzuela and Paul McAnulty. Had McAnulty not rededicated himself to the game and gotten into better shape physically right about that time, it is very likely the shoe would have dropped the other way.
Following his release for San Diego, the Chicago White Sox picked up Valenzuela. In 80 games with the Single-A Kinnapolis Intimidators, he collected 78 hits, 13 doubles, 9 home runs and 42 RBIs over 293 at-bats. But his average suffered at .266. He finished the 2006 season with Kinnapolis and was released the following spring.

In 2007, Valenzuela played 21 games with the St. Paul Saints of the American Association independent league. During the short stint, his bat came back to life; producing a .338 batting average that included 26 hits and 12 runs batted in over 77 at-bats.

2007 and 2008 also saw Valenzuela playing in the Mexican League, where he continues to produce at the plate. With Vaqueros Laguna in 2007, Valenzuela hit .349 with 37 hits, 11 runs batted in and 3 home runs over 106 at-bats in 47 games. With Leones de Yucatan in 2008, Valenzuela hit .314 with 34 RBI’s and 6 home runs over 242 at-bats in 77 games. His strikeout to walk ration is still pretty rugged (22:23 in 2008 and 10:16 in 2007), but he’s proven he can still hit the ball.

In case you are wondering, the Mexican League is considered a minor league organization. I contacted Fort Wayne TinCaps General Manager Mike Nutter for some assistance in understanding exactly how (because it is very rare that you’ll hear of a player begin “called-up” from the Mexican League). Here’s what he had to say on the matter:

The Mexican League is a member of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues and has a Triple-A classification. However, its member clubs operate largely independently of the 30 Major League Teams.

Fernando Valenzuela Jr. as a Wizard in 2004Nutter also indicated that the Padres are among the MLB organizations who maintain a relationship with the league. For instance, both Oliver Perez and Joakim Soria have played in the league and are now Major Leaguers. For that reason, the league is listed in the international section of the Baseball America Directory.

So, while I would not look for it, there is a possibility that Valenzuela Jr. may again work in the farm system of an MLB organization. He is now on the other side of 25 and has never played above single-A ball. Given that he is a first baseman with not a whole lot of speed or versatility, Valenzuela’s MLB chance has likely have come and gone.

In case you are wondering, the McAnulty made his MLB debut in 2005, though he didn’t play much with the big club until 2008, when he appeared in 66 games for the Padres before being sent down to Triple-A Portland. He remains with the club, and while many predict his Padres career is over, the numbers he put up after his demotion might earn him a second look in 2009.

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!

Wizards Where R They? – Travis Chick

In 2004, Travis Chick appeared in seven games with the Fort Wayne Wizards. He went 5-0 with a 2.37 ERA while striking out 55 in 42.1 innings pitched. Yes, a bright future looked to be in store for the youngster who had originally been drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 14th Round (413rd overall) of 2002 Draft. He came to the Padres’ system via a trade that sent RHP Ismael Valdez to Florida.

But in 2005, he began the year at Double-A Mobile, where he went 2-9 with a gaudy 5.27 ERA before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds with Jason Germano in exchange for Joe Randa. Iin 2006, the Reds flipped Chick to Seattle for Eddie Guardado and cash.

That year, he made his MLB debut with Seattle despite never playing about Double-A ball. In three relief appearances with the Mariners, he pitched 5 innings that produced a 12.60 ERA . . . 7 earned runs on 7 hits with 2 strikeouts.

2007 saw Chick perform better back at Double-A West Tennessee, where he went 6-6 with a 4.62 ERA before a promotion to Triple-A Tacoma. He began 2008 much the same way he did the prior year, at Double-A West Tennessee. He’d gone 4-5 with a 3.98 ERA before again being promoted to Triple-A Tacoma.

And maybe that’s where the story will take a turn for the better. His first appearance at Triple-A resulted in three runs on five hits and four walks with six strikeouts for a no-decision. But the next time out saw the 24-year-old right-hander hurl a two-hitter and struck out nine en route to a 3-1 victory over the Las Vegas 51s.

“When you go out and have a game like this, it builds confidence,” he said. “But I’m not going to read too much into it. My next start, I’m going to go out hungry and try to compete” [source: MiLB.com]

It was his first career complete game at any level, and he also retired the first ten batters he faced.

Wizards Where R They? – George Kottaras

George Kottaras with the Wizards in 2004In 2002, the San Diego Padres selected George Kottaras in the 20th round of the draft with the 595th overall pick.

In 2004, he put together a solid 78 games with the Fort Wayne Wizards, collecting 84 hits, 40 runs, 18 doubles, 7 home runs and driving in 46 runs while drawing 51 walks over 271 at-bats. He boasted a .310 average, a .415 on base percentage and a .461 slugging percentage.

Also in 2004, Kottaras played in the Olympics, where he served as first baseman and backup catcher for the Greece team. He collected three hits to help the team come from behind and defeat Italy 11-7. It was the team’s first and only win.

The following year, he did well at the High-A level, batting .303 before his promotion to Double-A Mobile. Since that time, his average has been pretty much on the decline. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in September of 2006 to complete an Aug 31 trade for David Wells.

Also in 2006, Kottaras was a Futures Game selection. During the game, he slugged a two run homer off Phillip Hughes and also collected an RBI off of Homer Bailey.

Today, he remains in the Rod Sox farm system where he is in the second consecutive season with Triple-A Pawtucket. As a Minor Leaguer who hasn’t yet gotten even a cup of coffee with a big league club, Kottaras has been an All-Star twice in addition to his other achievements.

Given the lackluster performances of Boston’s catchers this season and Jason Veritek’s impending free agency, I thought we’d get a chance to see Kottaras this season. Yet, with Kevin Cash emerging as the heir to Doug Mirabelli in catching Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball, and Veritek’s status as a BoSox living legend, it’s doubtful. And now, it appears that the Red Sox are targeting catchers in the trade market (perhaps they may be after the Texas Rangers’ Taylor Teagarden, who was recently sent back to Triple-A after a short stint with the big club.

On a bright note, Kottaras seems to have found his power stroke this year, however. On the season, he’s hitting .235 with a career high 19 home runs and 55 RBI’s. He’s drawn 52 walks and struck out 84 times in 307 at-bats. Three of his dingers have come in the last ten games.

Photo by Chad Gramling