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The MLB playoffs continue tonight as the American League Championship Series begins between the Yankees and Astros while the NLCS continues with Game 2 between the Nationals and Cardinals. This year the playoffs once again have been loaded with former Sounds. Each of the 10 clubs in the playoffs has featured at least one former Sound, and by the time the World Series ends, depending on certain roster decisions, there likely will have been more than 40 former Sounds involved in the playoffs. Several others with a different local connection are involved as well. Here’s a look at the former Sounds involved in the ALCS, as well as links to the previous breakdowns about the Wild Card games and the Division Series round.

(Previous post: former Sounds in the NL Wild Card Game: HERE)
(Previous post: former Sounds in the AL Wild Card Game: HERE)
(Previous post: former Sounds in the NLDS: HERE)
(Previous post: former Sounds in the ALDS: HERE)
(Previous post: former Sounds in the NLCS: HERE)

New York Yankees
Record: 103-59
How they made it: Won the AL East; Beat the Twins 3-0 in the ALDS
Fun fact: The Yankees now have 55 playoff appearances in franchise history, and there have been only four occasions since ’95 that they did not reach the postseason (’08, ’13-’14, ’16).

The Yankees have only one former Sound on their roster. Their longtime pitching coach pitching coach Larry Rothschild (’78) was part of the Sounds’ inaugural season, as he made five relief appearances that year as a Reds minor leaguer. He made just seven appearances in the major leagues as a player (Tigers ’81-’82) but has had a very long career in the big leagues as a coach and manager. He’s in his ninth year as a pitching coach and 45th (!) in pro baseball as a player, coach or manager. After coming up with the Reds as player, including his Sounds time, he later coached for them and was part of Cincinnati’s big-league staff in ’90 when they won the World Series. In the ALDS against the Twins, Rothschild and manager Aaron Boone oversaw a pitching staff that posted a 2.33 ERA and held Minnesota to a .218. average.

Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild (Courtesy Nashville Sounds)

Houston Astros
Record: 107-55
How they made it: Won the AL West; Beat the Rays 3-2 in the ALDS
Fun fact: Prior to 2017, the Astros had reached 100 wins one time in 55 seasons. Now they’ve done it three seasons in a row.

The loaded Astros once again aspire to a deep playoff run and have several former Sounds. Interestingly, it’s now been consecutive seasons that they’ve acquired former Sound Martin Maldonado (’09-’12) at mid-season. Last year, they got him from the Angels. Then this spring he signed as a free agent with the Royals after Kansas City lost Salvador Perez to injury in March. After playing in 73 games for the Royals, Maldonado had a two-week cameo with the Cubs, who acquired him from Houston on July 15 in exchange for Middle Tennessee native and Vanderbilt alum Tony Kemp. Maldonado is an outstanding defensive catcher, having won a Gold Glove in ’17 with the Angels. He’s in his ninth major league season and played in seven playoff games for Houston last year. He went 2-for-5 with an RBI in two games against Tampa Bay in the ALDS, sharing the catching duties with Robinson Chirinos. The Astros’ potent offense continues to feature outfielder Josh Reddick (’16), who spent a week with the Sounds in June ’16 on a rehab assignment for the A’s. He was coming back from a left thumb fracture and had 25 at-bats in six games. The Astros’ third base coach under manager A.J. Hinch is former Sounds hitting coach Gary Pettis (’05), who was with the Sounds the first year of their affiliation with the Brewers that culminated with a PCL title. Pettis joined the Astros in ‘17 after spending several seasons as a third base coach with the Rangers under Ron Washington. The Astros were already vaunted on the mound with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole atop their rotation when they acquired Zack Greinke (’11) from Arizona at the trade deadline. He went 8-1 with a 3.02 ERA in 10 starts for the Astros following the trade. Greinke made two starts for the Sounds in 2011 as part of a rehab assignment with the Brewers when he was coming back from a rib injury. He suffered a loss and didn’t make it out of the 4th inning in his lone ALDS start against the Rays.

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Enjoy the October baseball…there’s nothing like it!

Jeff

If you want to follow me on Twitter: @JeffHemPBP
If you want to send me an email: JeffH@NashvilleSounds.com
If you want to subscribe to blog posts via email updates, you can do so in the upper right section of the home page.

 

The MLB playoffs continue tonight as the National League Championship Series gets underway with the Cardinals hosting the Nationals. This year, as usual, the playoffs have been loaded with former Sounds. Each of the 10 clubs in the playoffs has featured at least one former Sound, and by the time the World Series ends, depending on certain roster decisions, there likely will have been more than 40 former Sounds involved in the playoffs. Several others with a different local connection are involved as well. Here’s a look at the former Sounds involved in the NLCS, as well as links to the previous posts about the Wild Card games and the Division Series round.

(Previous post: former Sounds in the NL Wild Card Game: HERE)
(Previous post: former Sounds in the AL Wild Card Game: HERE)
(Previous post: former Sounds in the NLDS: HERE)
(Previous post: former Sounds in the ALDS: HERE)

Washington Nationals
Record: 93-69
How they made it: Won the top NL Wild Card spot; Beat Milwaukee in the NL Wild Card Game; Beat Los Angeles 3-2 in the NLDS
Fun fact: This is the fifth time in the last eight seasons the Nationals are in the playoffs, though they’ve never advanced past the Division Series round.

No Bryce Harper? A 19-31 start to the season? No problem in Washington, as the Nationals returned to the postseason behind a star-studded rotation trio of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, and then upended the vaunted Dodgers in dramatic fashion in the NLDS after rallying to beat Milwaukee in the Wild Card Game.  This season the Nats’ bullpen once again was anchored by closer and former Sound Sean Doolittle (’15-’17), who has given up one run over 3 1/3 innings so far this postseason. He recorded 29 saves and finished a career-high 55 games in the regular season. Doolittle, a two-time all-star, is on a playoff team for the fifth time in his career. He appeared in 13 games for the Sounds on rehab assignments over a three-year period during the Sounds’ affiliation with the A’s. The last time he pitched for the Sounds was June 7, 2017, in Omaha when he was part of a combined no-hitter! The other former Sound on the Nats is their assistant hitting coach Joe Dillon (’07-’08), who joined the staff of manager Dave Martinez last year after spending the previous two years as a hitting coordinator for the Marlins. Dillon had a 12-year playing career and totaled 140 games for the Sounds in ’07-’08, including 94 games in ’07 when he batted .317 with 20 homers and 73 RBIs. He also played in 95 games for Milwaukee over that two-year stretch.

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St. Louis Cardinals
Record: 91-71
How they made it: Won the NL Central; Beat Atlanta 3-2 in the NLDS
Fun fact: This is the sixth time this decade the Cardinals have reached the playoffs, having gotten there five straight years from ’11-’15.

So far the Cardinals’ playoff roster has included one former Sound in Yairo Munoz (’17), and their coaching staff includes one of the most notable former Sounds in team history in the great Willie McGee (’80-’81). McGee has been an assistant coach for St. Louis the last two years, specializing in outfield play, base running and hitting, three areas at which he excelled as a player during his 18-year big-league career. He played in 178 games as a Sound as a Yankees minor leaguer in ’80-’81, playing alongside fellow future major leaguers like Steve BalboniOtis NixonDon Mattingly and Buck Showalter. There was a chance, though unlikely, the Cardinals were going to put both Munoz and fellow former Sound Rangel Ravelo (’15-’16) on their roster, but they did not include Ravelo for the NLDS. Munoz was on the roster but did not appear in a game against the Braves. Munoz hit .267 in 88 games this year for St. Louis and brings a lot of versatility with his ability to play the infield and outfield. He played in 65 games for the Sounds two years ago with the A’s before being traded to the Cardinals that off-season in the Stephen Piscotty trade. Ravelo made his long-awaited major league debut this year after several successful Triple-A seasons, including parts of two years with the Sounds. He played in 28 games in ’15 coming back from an injury and then 106 in ’16 over a full season on the Sounds’ division-championship team. This year he batted .299 in 95 games for Memphis and .205 with two homers in his 28 contests for the Cardinals.

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Enjoy the October baseball…there’s nothing like it!

Jeff

If you want to follow me on Twitter: @JeffHemPBP
If you want to send me an email: JeffH@NashvilleSounds.com
If you want to subscribe to blog posts via email updates, you can do so in the upper right section of the home page.

The MLB playoffs roll on today as the American League Division Series gets underway with the Twins-Yankees and Astros-Rays series. This year, as usual, the playoffs are loaded with former Sounds. Each of the 10 clubs in the playoffs has featured at least one former Sound, and by the time the World Series ends, depending on certain roster decisions, there likely will have been more than 40 former Sounds involved in the playoffs. Several others with a different local connection are involved as well. Below is a look at the former Sounds involved in the ALDS, as well as links to the previous posts about the Wild Card games and the NLDS.

(Previous post: former Sounds involved in the NL Wild Card Game: HERE)
(Previous post: former Sounds involved in the AL Wild Card Game: HERE)
(Previous post: former Sounds involved in the NLDS: HERE)

New York Yankees
Record: 103-59
How they made it: Won the AL East
Fun fact: The Yankees now have 55 playoff appearances in franchise history, and there’ve been only four occasions since ’95 that they did not reach the postseason (’08, ’13-’14, ’16).

The Yankees have only one former Sound on their roster. Their longtime pitching coach pitching coach Larry Rothschild (’78) was part of the Sounds’ inaugural season, as he made five relief appearances that year as a Reds minor leaguer. He made just seven appearances in the major leagues as a player (Tigers ’81-’82) but has had a very long career in the big leagues as a coach and manager. He’s in his ninth year as a pitching coach and 45th (!) in pro baseball as a player, coach or manager. After coming up with the Reds as player, including his Sounds time, he later coached for them and was part of Cincinnati’s big-league staff in ’90 when they won the World Series.

Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild (Courtesy Nashville Sounds)

Minnesota Twins
Record: 101-61
How they made it: Won the AL Central
Fun fact: This is the second time in franchise history the Twins reached 100 wins. They won a franchise-best 102 in ’65 when they lost in the World Series to the Dodgers.

Home run totals continue to rise annually around baseball, and the Twins and a former Sound were a central part of that story line this year as they fended off the Indians and won their division. The Twins set a new major league record for most home runs by one team in one season with an astounding 307 (their playoff opponent, the Yankees, hit 306), and 41 of those came from 39-year-old former Sounds slugger Nelson Cruz (’05-’06). He’s up to 401 career homers in his 15 major league seasons and has hit 30-plus in each of the last six seasons. After four seasons in Seattle, Cruz was one of the Twins’ big off-season acquisitions last winter. He also has significant playoff experience with a .292 average and 16 homers in 41 games, mostly with the Rangers from ’10-’12. The Twins had another former Sound on their roster down the stretch of the season in Ryan LaMarre (’17), but he’s not eligible for their playoff roster because he was not in the organization by the August 31 deadline. The Twins claimed him off waivers from the Braves on September 8. LaMarre, who played in 41 games for the Sounds two years ago, also was with the Twins for 43 games last year before going to the White Sox, then to Atlanta this year before coming back to Minnesota. Finally, there’s an indirect connection to the Sounds with Twins first baseman C.J. Cron. He’s the son of former Sound Chris Cron (’93, ’95), who managed in the PCL this past year at Reno for the D-backs and managed his son and C.J.’s brother, Kevin, who got his first big league call-up this year. Chris’ final career at-bat came in a Sounds uniform in that ’95 season, and he homered! He retired after the game and has enjoyed a long career in coaching and managing. He discussed his Sounds days with me this year during a pregame interview when the Sounds were in Reno (listen HERE). Between Kevin’s call-up and C.J.’s season in Minnesota, what a year for the Cron family!

Twins DH Nelson Cruz (Courtesy Mike Strasinger/Nashville Sounds)

Houston Astros
Record: 107-55
How they made it: Won the AL West
Fun fact: Prior to 2017, the Astros had reached 100 wins one time in 55 seasons. Now they’ve done it three seasons in a row.

The loaded Astros once again aspire to a deep playoff run and have several former Sounds. Interestingly, it’s now been consecutive seasons that they’ve acquired former Sound Martin Maldonado (’09-’12) at mid-season. Last year, they got him from the Angels. Then this spring he signed as a free agent with the Royals after Kansas City lost Salvador Perez to injury in March. After playing in 73 games for the Royals, Maldonado had a two-week cameo with the Cubs, who acquired him from Houston on July 15 in exchange for Middle Tennessee native and Vanderbilt alum Tony Kemp. Maldonado is an outstanding defensive catcher, having won a Gold Glove in ’17 with the Angels. He’s in his ninth major league season and played in seven playoff games for Houston last year. The Astros’ potent offense continues to feature outfielder Josh Reddick (’16), who spent a week with the Sounds in June ’16 on a rehab assignment for the A’s. He was coming back from a left thumb fracture and had 25 at-bats in six games. The Astros’ third base coach under manager A.J. Hinch is former Sounds hitting coach Gary Pettis (’05), who was with the Sounds the first year of their affiliation with the Brewers that culminated with a PCL title. Pettis joined the Astros in ‘17 after spending several seasons as a third base coach with the Rangers under Ron Washington. The Astros were already vaunted on the mound with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole atop their rotation when they acquired Zack Greinke (’11) from Arizona at the trade deadline. He went 8-1 with a 3.02 ERA in 10 starts for the Astros following the trade. Greinke made two starts for the Sounds in 2011 as part of a rehab assignment with the Brewers when he was coming back from a rib injury.

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Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 96-66
How they made it: Won the second AL Wild Card spot
Fun fact: The Rays are in the playoffs for the first time since 2013, which was the final year of a six-year stretch when they made the playoffs four times.

The Rays’ return to the postseason was aided by three former Sounds, most notably the Sounds’ all-time doubles leader, Joey Wendle (’15-’17). Wendle, who finished fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting in ’18, missed a lot of time this year due to a wrist injury. He played in only 75 games after appearing in 139 last year. Wendle ranks 10th in Sounds history in games played (380) and remains an all-time fan favorite. Interestingly, the man who Wendle passed on the franchise doubles list a couple years ago is Skeeter Barnes (’79, ’88-’90), the Sounds’ all-time games played leader whose number 00 is retired by the team. Barnes and Wendle both are with the Rays these days, as Barnes has worked in player development for Tampa Bay for several years. The Rays’ vaunted bullpen ended the regular season featuring a pair of former Sounds: Emilio Pagan (’18) and Pete Fairbanks (’19). Fairbanks was not on the Rays’ roster for the Wild Card Game, but if he appears for them at any point, he’ll be the only player we see this postseason who played for the Sounds in ’19. The flame-throwing righty joined the Sounds in late May from Double-A, made his major league debut a couple weeks later, and then was traded by Texas on July 13 in exchange for Nick Solak, who became an everyday fixture in the Rangers’ lineup after a very impressive 30-game stint with the Sounds. Pagan is enjoying the best season of his young career. He pitched five times for the Sounds last year and had a 4.35 ERA in 55 games for the A’s, who traded him to the Rays last off-season in the three-team deal with Texas that included ’19 Sounds Eli White, Brock Burke, Kyle Bird and Yoel Espinal. This year Pagan posted a 2.31 ERA and 20 saves in 66 games, striking out 96 hitters over 70 innings.

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Enjoy the October baseball…there’s nothing like it!

Jeff

If you want to follow me on Twitter: @JeffHemPBP
If you want to send me an email: JeffH@NashvilleSounds.com
If you want to subscribe to blog posts via email updates, you can do so in the upper right section of the home page.

The MLB postseason continues tonight as the National League Division Series gets underway with the Nationals-Dodgers and Braves-Cardinals series. This year, as usual, the playoffs are loaded with former Sounds. Each of the 10 clubs in the playoffs features at least one former Sound, and depending on certain roster decisions following the end of the regular season, there likely will be more than 40 former Sounds involved in the playoffs. Several others with a different local connection will be involved as well. Below is a look at the former Sounds involved in the NLDS, and I’ll cover the ALDS teams on Friday.

(Previous post: former Sounds involved in the NL Wild Card Game: HERE)
(Previous post: former Sounds involved in the AL Wild Card Game: HERE)

Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 106-56
How they made it: Won the NL West
Fun fact: The Dodgers are in the playoffs for a franchise-record seventh straight season. They are trying to become the first team since the ’98-’01 Yankees to play in three consecutive World Series.

In this homer-friendly era of baseball, the Dodgers are elevating as well as anyone. They had 11 players this year hit at least 10 homers, and once again former Sound Max Muncy (’15-’16) is in that core. After hitting 34 last year and being a Home Run Derby participant, he hit 35 this year with 98 RBIs and was a National League all-star. He continues to be an amazing story, going from an unsigned minor league free agent in early ’17 after being let go by the A’s to an everyday big leaguer with consecutive seasons of 30-plus dingers. I’ve brought this up before, but one of the great moments of his Sounds days was his game-winning hit in extra innings in the inaugural game at First Tennessee Park on April 18, 2015, capping off one of the most significant days in Sounds history. He totaled 124 games played as a Sound over a two-year stretch. Other local connections with the Dodgers include Vanderbilt alum Walker Buehler, who went 14-4 with a 3.26 ERA in 30 starts; Belmont alum Matt Beaty, who hit .265 in 99 games; and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, a Chattanooga native, former UT Vol and a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy (Courtesy Mike Strasinger/Nashville Sounds)

Washington Nationals
Record: 93-69
How they made it: Won the top NL Wild Card spot; Defeated Milwaukee in the NL Wild Card Game
Fun fact: This is the fifth time in the last eight seasons the Nationals are in the playoffs, though they’ve never advanced past the Division Series round.

No Bryce Harper? A 19-31 start to the season? No problem in Washington, as the Nationals return to the postseason behind a star-studded rotation trio of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. Scherzer and Strasburg each worked in the Wild Card Game win over the Brewers. This season the Nats’ bullpen once again was anchored by closer and former Sound Sean Doolittle (’15-’17), who recorded 29 saves and finished a career-high 55 games. Doolittle, a two-time all-star, is on a playoff team for the fifth time in his career. He appeared in 13 games for the Sounds on rehab assignments over a three-year period during the Sounds’ affiliation with the A’s. The last time he pitched for the Sounds was June 7, 2017, in Omaha when he was part of a combined no-hitter! The other former Sound on the Nats is their assistant hitting coach Joe Dillon (’07-’08), who joined the staff of manager Dave Martinez last year after spending the previous two years as a hitting coordinator for the Marlins. Dillon had a 12-year playing career and totaled 140 games for the Sounds in ’07-’08, including 94 games in ’07 when he batted .317 with 20 homers and 73 RBIs. He also played in 95 games for Milwaukee over that two-year stretch.

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Atlanta Braves
Record: 97-65
How they made it: Won the NL East
Fun fact: This is the second year in a row the Braves are in the postseason, and they’re looking to get past the Division Series for the first time since 2001.

The Braves have two former Sounds on their club, one player and one coach. Veteran outfielder Matt Joyce (’18) has enjoyed a resurgent season this year, hitting .295 in 129 games for Atlanta. He played in nine games last year for the Sounds over two different rehab assignments for Oakland while dealing with a back injury. Joyce signed with Cleveland in February, was released by the Indians in spring training and signed by the Giants the next day. Four days later he was claimed by Atlanta, spanning three organizations in a five-day period! The Braves’ pitching staff again is led by pitching coach and former Sound Chuck Hernandez (’83), who made five starts for the Sounds in ‘83 as a Yankees minor leaguer. That became his final season as a player, and he’s been a professional coach in some capacity ever since. The Braves also have a couple of local ties with a pair of former Vanderbilt stars in Dansby Swanson and Kyle Wright. Atlanta has not included Wright on its roster for the NLDS.

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St. Louis Cardinals
Record: 91-71
How they made it: Won the NL Central
Fun fact: This is the sixth time this decade the Cardinals have reached the playoffs, having gotten there five straight years from ’11-’15.

The Cardinals’ playoff roster includes one former Sound in Yairo Munoz (’17), and their coaching staff includes one of the most notable former Sounds in team history in the great Willie McGee (’80-’81). McGee has been an assistant coach for St. Louis the last two years, specializing in outfield play, base running and hitting, three areas at which he excelled as a player during his 18-year big-league career. He played in 178 games as a Sound as a Yankees minor leaguer in ’80-’81, playing alongside fellow future major leaguers like Steve Balboni, Otis Nixon, Don Mattingly and Buck Showalter. There was a chance, though unlikely, the Cardinals were going to put both Munoz and fellow former Sound Rangel Ravelo (’15-’16) on their roster, but they did not include Ravelo for the NLDS. Munoz hit .267 in 88 games this year for St. Louis and brings a lot of versatility with his ability to play the infield and outfield. He played in 65 games for the Sounds two years ago with the A’s before being traded to the Cardinals that off-season in the Stephen Piscotty trade. Ravelo made his long-awaited major league debut this year after several successful Triple-A seasons, including parts of two years with the Sounds. He played in 28 games in ’15 coming back from an injury and then 106 in ’16 over a full season on the Sounds’ division-championship team. This year he batted .299 in 95 games for Memphis and .205 with two homers in his 28 contests for the Cardinals.

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Enjoy the October baseball…there’s nothing like it!

Jeff

If you want to follow me on Twitter: @JeffHemPBP
If you want to send me an email: JeffH@NashvilleSounds.com
If you want to subscribe to blog posts via email updates, you can do so in the upper right section of the home page.

October baseball continues tonight with the American League Wild Card Game. This year, like every year, the playoffs are loaded with former Sounds. Each of the 10 clubs in the playoffs features at least one former Sound, and depending on certain roster decisions following the end of the regular season, there likely will be more than 40 former Sounds involved in the playoffs by the time it all concludes. Several others with a different local connection will be involved as well. Below is a look at the former Sounds to watch for tonight, and I’ll have more on the Division Series breakdown on Thursday.

(Previous post: former Sounds involved in the NL Wild Card Game: HERE)

Oakland Athletics
Record: 97-65
How they made it: Won the top AL Wild Card spot
Fun fact: This is the second year in a row the A’s have clinched a Wild Card spot and the fifth time in the last eight seasons they’re in the playoffs.

Just like last year when the A’s faced the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game, there aren’t many A’s who are not former Sounds, given the Sounds and Oakland were affiliated with each other for four years (’15-’18) before the Sounds switched to the Rangers a year ago. Pitching staffs and benches are constructed differently for a one-game must-win compared to a best-of-five series but suffice it to say the A’s will only have a few guys in uniform tonight who we did not see at First Tennessee Park during the recent affiliation. The A’s once again are managed by Bob Melvin (’85), who has managed the club since ’11. He batted .271 with nine homers and appeared in 53 games for the Sounds in ’85 when they were a Tigers affiliate. He was called up to Detroit in late May that year for his major league debut. His bench coach continues to be Ryan Christenson (’17), who managed the Sounds two years ago before joining Melvin’s staff in ’18. Last year in their Wild Card game, the A’s used reliever Liam Hendriks (’16, ’18) as an opener. He’d gone from a Sounds rehabber in ’16 to making 23 appearances with the Sounds last year after being designated for assignment. Now he’s their closer, posting a 1.80 ERA with 25 saves for a bullpen that has lost usual-closer Blake Treinen and former Sound Lou Trivino (’18) to injury. The young core of the A’s centers around several former Sounds, including their Matts on the corners: first baseman Matt Olson (’16-’17), who blasted 36 homers in 127 games after missing time early in the year with an injury, and third baseman and Gold Glove winner Matt Chapman (’16-’17), who made his first all-star appearance and also belted 36 homers. Super-utility man Chad Pinder (’16-’17), shortstop Marcus Semien (3 rehab games in ’17), 1B/OF Mark Canha (’17-’18) and outfielder and human-highlight-reel Ramon Laureano (’18) help anchor the A’s up the middle with power and defense, former Sounds fan favorite Franklin Barreto (’16-’18) again split the year between Oakland and Triple-A, and outfielder/DH Khris Davis (’12-’13), a Sound from the club’s days as a Brewers affiliate, completed a sixth straight season of 20-plus homers. At the catching position, the A’s feature two former Sounds: Josh Phegley (’16-’18), who enjoyed a breakout season offensively with 12 homers in 106 games, and young prospect Sean Murphy (’18), who appeared in three games for the Sounds the final weekend of ’18 and would’ve been with the team more last year if not for an injury. Infielder Sheldon Neuse (’18) made his major league debut this season following a breakout season at Las Vegas and played in 135 games for the Sounds last year. The lengthy list of former Sounds on the A’s continues to the mound. Their rotation this year has been anchored by, among others, Mike Fiers (’11-’14), Brett Anderson (’18) and Chris Bassitt (’15, ’17-’18), who combined to make 89 starts. Daniel Mengden (’16-’18) and Paul Blackburn (’17) contributed at times up from Triple-A, and Frankie Montas (’17-’18) went 9-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 16 starts in the regular season and recently was reinstated following an 80-game suspension. Former Sounds ace Sean Manaea (’16) is back from injury and had a 1.51 ERA in five starts, and phenom Jesus Luzardo (’18), who just turned 22 years old on Monday, posted a 1.50 ERA in six relief outings and now appears to be a force as a late-game reliever. The A’s have announced that Manaea will start tonight against Tampa Bay, getting the nod over Fiers, though Fiers is also on the roster for the game (unlike Anderson and Montas). Other bullpen options for the A’s tonight include J.B. Wendelken (’16, ’18) and lefty Ryan Buchter (4 rehab games in ’18).

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Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 96-66
How they made it: Won the second AL Wild Card spot
Fun fact: The Rays are in the playoffs for the first time since 2013, which was the final year of a six-year stretch when they made the playoffs four times.

The Rays’ return to the postseason was aided by three former Sounds, most notably the Sounds’ all-time doubles leader, Joey Wendle (’15-’17). Wendle, who finished fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting in ’18, missed a lot of time this year due to a wrist injury. He played in only 75 games after appearing in 139 last year. Wendle ranks 10th in Sounds history in games played (380) and remains an all-time fan favorite. Interestingly, the man who Wendle passed on the franchise doubles list a couple years ago is Skeeter Barnes (’79, ’88-’90), the Sounds’ all-time games played leader whose number 00 is retired by the team. Barnes and Wendle both are with the Rays these days, as Barnes has worked in player development for Tampa Bay for several years. The Rays’ vaunted bullpen features a pair of former Sounds: Emilio Pagan (’18) and Pete Fairbanks (’19). If Fairbanks is on the Rays’ playoff roster, he’ll be the only player we’ll see this postseason who played for the Sounds just this year. The flame-throwing righty joined the Sounds in late May from Double-A, made his major league debut a couple weeks later, and then was traded by Texas on July 13 in exchange for Nick Solak, who became an everyday fixture in the Rangers’ lineup after a very impressive 30-game stint with the Sounds. Pagan is enjoying the best season of his young career. He pitched five times for the Sounds last year and had a 4.35 ERA in 55 games for the A’s, who traded him to the Rays last off-season in the three-team deal with Texas that included ’19 Sounds Eli White, Brock Burke, Kyle Bird and Yoel Espinal. This year Pagan posted a 2.31 ERA and 20 saves in 66 games, striking out 96 hitters over 70 innings.

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Enjoy the October baseball!

Jeff

If you want to follow me on Twitter: @JeffHemPBP
If you want to send me an email: JeffH@NashvilleSounds.com
If you want to subscribe to blog posts via email updates, you can do so in the upper right section of the home page.

Welcome back to October baseball! The postseason officially starts tonight with the National League Wild Card Game. This year, like every year, the playoffs are loaded with former Sounds. Each of the 10 clubs in the playoffs features at least one former Sound, and depending on certain roster decisions following the end of the regular season, there likely will be more than 40 former Sounds involved in the playoffs. Several others with a different local connection will be involved as well. Below is a look at the former Sounds involved tonight, and I’ll have more on the American League Wild Card game tomorrow and the Division Series breakdown on Thursday.

Washington Nationals
Record: 93-69
How they made it: Won the top NL Wild Card spot
Fun fact: This is the fifth time in the last eight seasons the Nationals are in the playoffs, though they’ve never advanced past the Division Series round.

No Bryce Harper? A 19-31 start to the season? No problem in Washington, as the Nationals return to the postseason behind a star-studded pitching staff led by Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Scherzer will start the game, and since it’s an all-or-nothing contest, the Nats may go to Strasburg and fellow rotation stalwart Patrick Corbin after that. This season the Nats’ bullpen once again was anchored by closer and former Sound Sean Doolittle (’15-’17), who recorded 29 saves and finished a career-high 55 games. Doolittle, a two-time all-star, is on a playoff team for the fifth time in his career. He appeared in 13 games for the Sounds on rehab assignments over a three-year period during the Sounds’ affiliation with the A’s. The last time he pitched for the Sounds was June 7, 2017, in Omaha when he was part of a combined no-hitter! The other former Sound on the Nats is their assistant hitting coach Joe Dillon (’07-’08), who joined the staff of manager Dave Martinez last year after spending the previous two years as a hitting coordinator for the Marlins. Dillon had a 12-year playing career and totaled 140 games for the Sounds in ’07-’08, including 94 games in ’07 when he batted .317 with 20 homers and 73 RBIs. He also played in 95 games for Milwaukee over that two-year stretch.

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Milwaukee Brewers
Record: 89-73
How they made it: Won the second NL Wild Card spot
Fun fact: The Brewers, who won the NL Central last year, now have made consecutive postseason appearances for the first time since 1981-82.

The Brewers had an eventful final weekend of the season for the second year in a row. Last year they beat the Cubs in a Game 163 to claim the NL Central. This year they came up short in the division race against St. Louis but solidified a Wild Card spot following a 20-7 record in September, the highest win total in the major leagues for the month. They did much of that without the reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich, who won a second straight batting title but is injured with a fractured kneecap. Two other Brewers outfielders have had their own ailments recently but are expected to play in the Wild Card game, and they’re both former Sounds: Lorenzo Cain (’08, ’10) and Ryan Braun (’07). Cain has had a sprained ankle of late but enjoyed another stellar year with the glove, and Braun has dealt with a calf issue but also put together another 20-plus homer season, the 10th in his career. On the pitching side, former Sound Jimmy Nelson (’13-’14), the 2014 PCL Pitcher of the Year, made his way back to the major leagues this year after dealing with right shoulder issues the past couple years and then an elbow injury this year after coming back from the shoulder woes. He pitched in four games in June for Milwaukee before landing on the injured list with the elbow problem and returning in September for six relief outings. He’s not on the Brewers’ roster for this game but you’ll probably see him in the dugout cheering on his teammates. Speaking of comeback seasons, former Sound Jay Jackson (’14) found his way back to the big leagues, appearing in 28 games out of the bullpen, his second stint in the major leagues and first since 2015. He made six starts for the Sounds in ’14, the team’s final year as a Milwaukee affiliate. Jackson is on the Brewers’ roster for the Wild Card Game as one of 10 Milwaukee pitchers. Former Sounds catcher Robinzon Diaz (’14) continues to serve as the Brewers’ bullpen catcher. It’s his third season in that role. He played in 38 games for the Sounds in ‘14 and retired as a player after the ’16 season. The Brewers have one other local connection on their staff with hitting coach Andy Haines, who took over in that role this year for former Sound Darnell Coles (’92). Haines, who managed in the PCL for the Marlins at New Orleans in ’14 and ’15, earned his master’s degree at Middle Tennessee State University and was an assistant coach for the Blue Raiders from ’00-’05. He and his family reside in nearby Columbia, TN.

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Enjoy the playoffs!

Jeff

If you want to follow me on Twitter: @JeffHemPBP
If you want to send me an email: JeffH@NashvilleSounds.com
If you want to subscribe to blog posts via email updates, you can do so in the upper right section of the home page.

That’s a wrap! With a wild extra-inning walk-off victory on Labor Day, the Sounds have concluded their 2019 season, the 42nd in franchise history and first as a Texas Rangers affiliate. The Sounds won 10 of their last 14 and 19 of their final 25 to close out the season and finished 66-72 overall. Start preparing now to join us at First Tennessee Park in 2020!

Below is an audio rewind from the final weekend of the season, including catcher Jett Bandy on closing out his season against several familiar faces and former teammates on San Antonio’s club, reliever David Carpenter on his resurgent season and being named PCL Reliever of the Year, outfielder Zack Granite on his successful season and the team’s strong finish, and manager Jason Wood on the team’s end-of-season award winners and the year as a whole.

September 2 – MGR Jason Wood

September 1 – OF Zack Granite

August 31 – RH David Carpenter

August 30 – C Jett Bandy

Thanks for listening…on the air and off.

Jeff

If you want to follow me on Twitter: @JeffHemPBP
If you want to send me an email: JeffH@NashvilleSounds.com
If you want to subscribe to blog posts via email updates, you can do so in the upper right section of the home page.