Results tagged ‘ Modesto Nuts ’
After a 2010 season in High-A Modesto leading the league in innings (177.1) and strikeouts (171) Juan Nicasio was promoted to Double-A Tulsa in the beginning of the 2011 season. It was expected from the Colorado Rockies organization that Nicasio would have to build on a successful 2010 season if the native Dominican wanted to pitch in the big leagues. What wasn’t expected is that Nicasio would make his major league debut before the All-Star break in 2011.
Nicasio began the season going 5-1 with the Drillers through nine starts in 2011, compiling 63 strikeouts in only 56.2 innings pitched while posting a 2.22 earned run average, tops in the Texas League.
On May 28, 2011 Juan Nicasio made his debut for the Colorado Rockies against the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field. He went seven strong innings allowing only six hits and one unearned run, recording his first major league victory.
Over the last month Nicasio has been a spark plug-in the Rockies starting rotation going 3-1 with a 4.10 earned run average in seven starts with the club.
As the Drillers try to clinch the Texas League North in the second half and a playoff berth, unfortunately for Drillers fans it’s not looking like Nicasio will be back any time soon to help.
The Tulsa Drillers will be back at ONEOK Field on July 14th taking on the Arkansas Travelers at 7:05 PM.
His manager saw the potential. This year, Tulsa Drillers outfielder Tim Wheeler is showing it for everyone.
Wheeler, a first-round pick of the Rockies in 2009, is thriving in his Double-A debut. After hitting no higher than .256 in his first two professional seasons, Wheeler entered Tuesday’s action hitting .326 with a team-high 12 home runs and 35 RBIs out of the leadoff spot.
“I’ve just done a good job of keeping the same swing day in and day out,” Wheeler said. “And when I do have a bad day, I’m going back out the next day with the same swing and not changing something, just really trying to use my hands and not changing a whole lot.”
Wheeler’s early-season power surge puts him on a pace to become the first Texas Leaguer to hit 40 homers in a season since 1964 (Brandon Berger,Wichita). Whether Wheeler can maintain his current output remains to be seen, of course, but he’s showing the potential that Drillers manager Duane Espy witnessed first-hand as his hitting coach with Modesto in 2010.
“It’s been pretty special what he’s done, but I’m not surprised, because I saw what he was capable of last year,” said Espy, the veteran coach and manager in his 42nd professional season.
After the Rockies drafted Wheeler out of Sacramento State, he hit .256 with five home runs, 35 RBIs and 60 strikeouts in 68 games at Short Season Tri-City. He skipped Class A to start last season at Class A Advanced Modesto and batted .249 in 129 games with 12 homers, 63 RBIs and 114 strikeouts.
“At times it was frustrating, but it was just part of the process,” Wheeler said. “I wasn’t ready to play in the big leagues last year. You never know when that’s going to happen, but it was a lot of learning. It made me a better player, and this year I’m showing that.”
Though the strikeouts piled up and the average stayed, well, average, Wheeler showed the work ethic and commitment to winning that helped lead Modesto to the California League playoffs.
“I just try to make myself better every day, whether it be defense, hitting, base running and just being a good teammate, helping the team win really,” Wheeler said. “We got to the semis in the postseason last year, and we did a good job.”
Espy pointed out that Modesto’s 56-year-old John Thurman Field, with its deep power alleys and 400-foot center-field fence, was not always conducive to the power Wheeler has shown this year. But also, Espy noted, Wheeler is the type of player to give up outs in favor of runs.
“You had a guy on third and the infield back, he’d hit a ground ball to second and drive him in,” Espy said. “You could tell he was that type of guy. You could tell that was important. That creates a .250 instead of a .275 or .280 batting average, making outs for the team, but certainly he was a big part of us winning.”
Here is Part 1 of my question and answer session with Tulsa Drillers trainer, Austin O’Shea. Austin is entering in his 3rd season with the Drillers in 2011. Austin graduated from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado and is originally from Montana. The trainer is often the person who the players confide throughout the season, and whom most are the closest too. His background within the Rockies system and experience working with the players made him one of the better people in the organization to interview. Please enjoy!
1 So how did you end up in Minor League Baseball, being from Montana?
Growing up I was always more of a football guy than a baseball guy. After I graduated from Colorado State, I moved back to Montana and began working for an orthopedic surgeon. The Rockies happened to lose their minor league trainer in one of their Class A Affiliates. The Rockies had contacted the trainer at CSU to see if he happened to know anyone that might be interested in a minor league position; the trainer gave my number to Mark Gustafson thinking I would love the opportunity. Funny thing I had actually just purchased a house in Montana, but luckily was able to sell it and break even. Next thing you know, I moved up there and been in the Rockies organization ever since.
2 We all know about the long infamous bus rides on a MiLB bus, but what is your favorite thing about working in the minors?
My favorite thing has to be what every other person working in sports loves about their job. Being in the position I am in, I love being part of the wins and the good times, but then having to make it through the losing and the hard times, makes it worth while also. It’s also just the sense of being a part of something special sometimes that I love.
3 What is a typical game day for a trainer?
Usually it is about an 11 hour day, for home games that start at 7:05. I begin regularly around noon by starting the paper work and responding to any emails I might have. The guys usually start to arrive around 3 and I begin on those who need early treatment for injuries. Then on to batting practice, eat a light meal, and then take care of any treatment that happens before games. After the game I have to deal with record upkeep that is a huge part of minor league baseball, with the treatments I give and the injuries the players come to me with.
4 Do you have to have a ridiculous player injury story?
I have too many to name, but there are two that really come to mind. A couple years back we had a guy come to us with a broken hand, and said he broke it while carrying groceries up the stairs. Now how that happened is not for me to know. Thing is about a week later, another teammate comes to me with the same story. That’s all you’re getting out of me.
5 What minor league player made the biggest impression on you, whether it be as a person or ball player?
That’s a very tough question. But I have to go with Troy Tulowitzki. I had him immediately after he got drafted in Modesto for his first year of pro ball. Then I had him again the next year in Tulsa when I took the head trainers job here. He just had the competitiveness that you rarely see out of a baseball player, and had the drive to go with it. He is just a natural born leader.
6 What is your eventual goal being a trainer?
My goal is just like any other player, manager or hitting coach in the minors. I want to be a trainer in the Majors.