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The Sounds’ parent-club Texas Rangers officially introduced their new manager today in Arlington, as former Sound Chris Woodward (’08) takes the helm. He received a three-year contract with a club option for 2022 and was introduced by Rangers President of Baseball of Operations Jon Daniels. If you’ve followed this blog in recent weeks, Woodward’s name probably rings a bell. He was part of the “Former Sounds in the MLB Playoffs” series due to his previous role as third base coach for the two-time defending NL-champion Dodgers. Woodward is widely respected around the game by players and his peers, and you can get a glimpse of that by reading why he chose to wear number 8 on his jersey in Texas.

Woodward played for the Sounds in 2008 when they were a Brewers affiliate. It was toward the end of his career, and he appeared 71 games, hitting .291 with a .341 on-base percentage. He’d begun that season with the Phillies before being released and signing with Milwaukee. Interestingly, that 2008 season is the only one from 1999-2011 when Woodward did not appear in at least one major league game, and that ’08 Brewers team reached the postseason for the first time since 1982. Woodward spent all or parts of 12 seasons in the major leagues and totaled 659 games between the Blue Jays, Mets, Braves, Mariners and Red Sox.

Woodward now is one of three former Sounds who’ll be managing in the big leagues in 2019. He joins 2018 AL Manager of the Year Bob Melvin (’85) of the A’s and Don Mattingly (’81) of the Marlins. Buck Showalter (’80-’83) was in that group before the Orioles announced last month he would not be retained next season.

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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.

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It’s down to two! The World Series begins tonight in Boston, and it’s the Red Sox and the Dodgers. This postseason has been loaded with former Sounds from the start, and both the Red Sox and the Dodgers feature multiple former Sounds. Each of the original 10 clubs in the postseason had at least one former Sound on the roster either as a player, manager or coach, and it’s possible the Sounds are the only minor league team that can claim that. Here are the former Sounds to watch for in the World Series, as well as links to the previous posts about the earlier rounds of the postseason.

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
Previous post: former Sounds involved in the ALDS: HERE
Previous post: former Sounds involved in the ALCS and NLCS: HERE

Boston Red Sox
Regular Season Record: 108-54
How they made it: Won the AL East; Defeated the Yankees in the ALDS; Defeated the Astros in the ALCS
Fun fact: The Red Sox have been around since 1908, and their 108 wins this year were a franchise record.

The Red Sox are in the World Series for the first time since 2013 when they beat the Cardinals. Boston has one former Sound on their active roster and two on their coaching staff, as well as two very recognizable Middle Tennessee natives. Former Sound Ryan Brasier (’15-’16) was named a Triple-A all-star this year at Pawtucket but didn’t appear in the game because he was called up to Boston. He posted a 1.60 ERA in 34 appearances in his return to the big leagues and has become a reliable late-game reliever for Boston, posting seven scoreless outings in the playoffs so far. He was a crucial part of the Sounds’ division-championship team in ’16. He was joined in the Boston bullpen in the regular season by former Sound Tyler Thornburg (’12-’13), who missed all of last year and fought his way back from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome to make 25 appearances for the Red Sox this year. Thornburg has not been on the Red Sox postseason rosters to this point. David Price, the Murfreesboro native and former Vanderbilt star, went 16-7 with a 3.58 ERA in 30 starts during the regular season for Boston. He’d had two mediocre starts in the playoffs before delivering a huge performance in Houston last Thursday in the series-clinching Game 5, tossing six scoreless innings with no walks and nine strikeouts. Mookie Betts, the Nashville native and Overton High School alum, hit .346 with 32 homers and 80 RBIs in 136 games and is the likely AL MVP. He’s batted .205 so far this postseason. First-year manager Alex Cora’s bench coach is former Sound Ron Roenicke (’88), the former Brewers manager who played in 83 games with the Sounds as a Reds minor leaguer in 1988. Boston’s assistant hitting coach is Andy Barkett (’01), who played in 91 games as a Sound in 1991 for the Pirates and was called up for his major league debut that season. It’s his first year as a major league coach after many years as a minor league manager, coach and coordinator.

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Los Angeles Dodgers
Regular Season Record: 92-71
How they made it: Won the NL West; Defeated the Braves in the NLDS; Defeated the Brewers in the NLCS
Fun fact: The Dodgers are in the playoffs for a franchise-record sixth straight season. This is the first time since 1977-78 they’ve won consecutive NL pennants.

The Dodgers are in the World Series for the second year in a row, and they’re looking to claim the first title since 1988. They once again boast a pair of former Sounds on manager Dave Roberts’ coaching staff. Their third base coach is Chris Woodward (’08), who played 12 years in the major leagues and hit .291 in 71 games for the Sounds in 2008. The Dodgers’ hitting coach is former Sound Turner Ward (’99), who also played 12 years in the major leagues. He hit .292 in 35 games for the Sounds in 1999. Woodward and Ward observed first-hand the monster season from former Sound Max Muncy (’15-’16), who went from an unsigned minor league free agent in early ’17 after being let go by the A’s to an everyday big leaguer and a Home Run Derby participant who smashed 34 homers this year. His only two hits in the NLDS against the Braves were home runs, and he had four hits and drew four walks against the Brewers in the NLCS. Speaking of a flair for the dramatic, among the things I’ll never forget about Muncy is his game-winning hit in extra innings in the inaugural game at First Tennessee Park on April 18, 2015. What a way to open a new ballpark! The Dodgers had two former Sounds on their roster late in the season they’ve elected to leave off their postseason rosters to this point. One is the amazing switch-pitcher Pat Venditte (’15), who went back and forth several times this year from L.A. to OKC. He posted a 2.57 ERA in 15 appearances in the big leagues. The other is John Axford (’09-’10, ’17), who worked in 45 games for the Blue Jays before the Dodgers acquired him in late July. Other local connections with the Dodgers include Vanderbilt alum Walker Buehler, the Dodgers’ 1st-round pick in ’15 who made his major league debut last year, and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, a Chattanooga native, former UT Vol and a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

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Enjoy the Fall Classic!

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.

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The MLB Postseason resumes Friday night with the National League Championship Series between the Dodgers and Brewers and continues Saturday with Game 2 of that series and Game 1 of the American League Championship Series between the Astros and Red Sox. The postseason has been loaded with former Sounds from the start, and the LCS round has multiple former Sounds on each team. Each of the original 10 clubs in the postseason had/has at least one former Sound on the roster either as a player, manager or coach, and it’s possible the Sounds are the only minor league team that can claim that. As many 50 former Sounds could be involved by the end depending on roster decisions as the playoffs unfold. Below is a breakdown for the two LCS match-ups, as well as links to the previous posts about the Wild Card Games and the Division Series round.

(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.)
(Previous post: former Sounds involved in the ALDS: HERE.)

Milwaukee Brewers
Record:
 96-67
How they made it: Won the NL Central; Defeated the Rockies in the NLDS
Fun fact: The Brewers are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 when they were the Sounds’ parent club and reached the NLCS.

The Brewers have three former Sounds on their active roster, all of whom were with the Sounds during that affiliation. Lorenzo Cain (’08, ’10) made his return to Milwaukee this year as one of the big off-season acquisitions by the Brewers (also see Yelich, Christian). They’d drafted him in ’04 and then included him in the trade with Kansas City that brought Zack Greinke to Milwaukee going into ’11, which was the last Brewers playoff season until now. Cain hit .308 with a career-high 30 steals this year in a lineup that continues to boast one of the all-time Brewers greats, Ryan Braun (’07).  Braun had 20-plus homers for the ninth time in his career and went 5-for-13 in the NLDS. He’s a career .380 hitter in the postseason. The Brewers’ bullpen is nasty, and a big reason why is former Sound Jeremy Jeffress (’14), one of three Milwaukee relievers with 10-plus saves. Jeffress owns a 1.29 ERA in 73 appearances. The Brewers also have a pair of former Sounds on manager Craig Counsell’s field staff. Their hitting coach is Darnell Coles (’92), who played in 22 games for the Sounds in 1992 when they were a Reds affiliate. He hit six homers in those 22 games, and three of them came on April 10 at Denver that season when he tied a franchise record. He remains one of seven Sounds all-time to hit three homers in one contest. He technically was also the Sounds’ manager for a brief time. He’d been named to that post by the Brewers in October ’13 before getting a major league coaching job with the Tigers later that off-season. The Brewers then replaced him in Nashville with Rick Sweet, who managed the Sounds in ’14 and has been Milwaukee’s Triple-A manager ever since. Former Sounds catcher Robinzon Diaz (’14) serves as the Brewers’ bullpen catcher. It’s his second 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 another local connection on their staff with pitching Derek Johnson, who was Vanderbilt’s pitching coach for 11 years (’02-’12) before he joined the Cubs as their minor league pitching coordinator. It’s his third season as Brewers pitching coach. Part of what makes the Brewers’ pitching staff so impressive is they’ve been without one of the anchors of their starting rotation, former Sound Jimmy Nelson (’13-’14), all season. He’s recovering from a right shoulder injury.

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Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 92-71
How they made it: Won the NL West; Defeated the Braves in the NLDS
Fun fact: The Dodgers are in the playoffs for a franchise-record sixth straight season. If they reach the World Series, they will have won consecutive NL pennants for the first time since 1977-78.

The Dodgers once again boast a pair of former Sounds on manager Dave Roberts’ coaching staff. Their third base coach is Chris Woodward (’08), who played 12 years in the major leagues and hit .291 in 71 games for the Sounds in 2008. The Dodgers’ hitting coach is former Sound Turner Ward (’99), who also played 12 years in the major leagues. He hit .292 in 35 games for the Sounds in 1999. Woodward and Ward observed first-hand the monster season from former Sound Max Muncy (’15-’16), who went from an unsigned minor league free agent in early ’17 after being let go by the A’s to an everyday big leaguer and a Home Run Derby participant who smashed 34 homers this year. His only two hits in the NLDS against the Braves were home runs. Speaking of a flair for the dramatic, among the things I’ll never forget about Muncy is his game-winning hit in extra innings in the inaugural game at First Tennessee Park on April 18, 2015. What a way to open a new ballpark! The Dodgers had two former Sounds on their roster late in the season they’ve elected to leave off their postseason rosters to this point. One is the amazing switch-pitcher Pat Venditte (’15), who went back and forth several times this year from L.A. to OKC. He posted a 2.57 ERA in 15 appearances in the big leagues. The other is John Axford (’09-’10, ’17), who worked in 45 games for the Blue Jays before the Dodgers acquired him in late July. Other local connections with the Dodgers include Vanderbilt alum Walker Buehler, the Dodgers’ 1st-round pick in ’15 who made his major league debut last year, and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, a Chattanooga native, former UT Vol and a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

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Houston Astros
Record: 103-59
How they made it: Won the AL West; Defeated the Indians in the ALDS
Fun fact: Prior to last year, the Astros had reached 100 wins one time in 55 seasons. Now they’ve done it two seasons in a row.

One of the Astros’ key mid-season acquisitions was getting former Sound Martin Maldonado (’09-’12) from the Angels. Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year with the Angels and combined to play in 119 games this year between the two clubs. He went 1-for-8 in the ALDS, and the one hit was a home run. 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 last year after spending several seasons as third base coach with the Rangers under Ron Washington. Franklin native and former Vanderbilt star Tony Kemp has scratched and clawed his way to a more full-time spot on the loaded Houston roster this year. He played in 97 games this season and hit .263 with 30 RBIs and a .351 on-base percentage. Two years ago Kemp was having a Nashville homecoming with Fresno when he got word of his first-ever major league call-up.

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Boston Red Sox
Record: 108-54
How they made it: Won the AL East; Defeated the Yankees in the ALDS
Fun fact: The Red Sox have been around since 1908, and their 108 wins this year are a franchise record.

For the ALCS, the Red Sox have one former Sound on their active roster and two on their coaching staff, as well as two very recognizable Middle Tennessee natives. Former Sound Ryan Brasier (’15-’16) was named a Triple-A all-star this year at Pawtucket but didn’t appear in the game because he was called up to Boston. He posted a 1.60 ERA in 34 appearances in his return to the big leagues and has become a reliable late-game reliever for Boston, posting three scoreless outings in the ALDS against the Yankees. He was a crucial part of the Sounds’ division-championship team in ’16. He was joined in the Boston bullpen in the regular season by former Sound Tyler Thornburg (’12-’13), who missed all of last year and fought his way back from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome to make 25 appearances for the Red Sox this year. Thornburg has not been on the Red Sox postseason rosters to this point. David Price, the Murfreesboro native and former Vanderbilt star, went 16-7 with a 3.58 ERA in 30 starts, and Mookie Betts, an Overton High School alum, hit .346 with 32 homers and 80 RBIs in 136 games and is the likely AL MVP. First-year manager Alex Cora’s bench coach is former Sound Ron Roenicke (’88), the former Brewers manager who played in 83 games with the Sounds as a Reds minor leaguer in 1988. Boston’s assistant hitting coach is Andy Barkett (’01), who played in 91 games as a Sound in 1991 for the Pirates and was called up for his major league debut that season. It’s his first year as a major league coach after many years as a minor league manager, coach and coordinator.

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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.

 

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The MLB Postseason continues Friday with a quadruple-header. Both of the American League Division Series get underway, and the two National League Division Series take the field for their Game 2. In the AL, the Indians visit the Astros, and the Yankees take on Boston. Each of the 10 clubs in the postseason had/has at least one former Sound on the roster either as a player, manager or coach, and it’s possible the Sounds are the only minor league team that can claim that. As many 50 former Sounds could be involved by the end depending on roster decisions as the playoffs unfold. Below is a breakdown for the two ALDS match-ups, 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.)

Cleveland Indians
Record:
 91-71
How they made it: Won the AL Central
Fun fact: The Indians are making a third consecutive playoff appearance for the first time since they won five straight division titles from ‘95-‘99.

Reliever Dan Otero (’15) once again was a frequently-used arm in the Cleveland bullpen. He worked in 61 games, second-most on the team, and had a 5.22 ERA. His pitching coach is former Sound Carl Willis (’87), who’s in his first year in Cleveland after time with Boston. Willis made 267 appearances in the major leagues over nine years from ’84-’95. His Sounds time came in ’87 during his stint in the Reds organization, and he owned a 4.20 ERA and tied for the team lead in appearances with 53. The Sounds’ pitching staff that year included future Reds stalwarts Rob DibbleTom Browning and Norm Charlton and future Royals Hall of Famer Jeff Montgomery.

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Houston Astros
Record: 103-59
How they made it: Won the AL West
Fun fact: Prior to last year, the Astros had reached 100 wins one time in 55 seasons. Now they’ve done it two seasons in a row.

One of the Astros’ key mid-season acquisitions was getting former Sound Martin Maldonado (’09-’12) from the Angels. Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year with the Angels and combined to play in 119 games this year between the two clubs. 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 last year after spending several seasons as third base coach with the Rangers under Ron Washington. Franklin native and former Vanderbilt star Tony Kemp has scratched and clawed his way to a more full-time spot on the loaded Houston roster this year. He played in 97 games this season and hit .263 with 30 RBIs and a .351 on-base percentage. Two years ago Kemp was having a Nashville homecoming with Fresno when he got word of his first-ever major league call-up.

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New York Yankees
Record: 100-62
How they made it: Defeated the A’s in the AL Wild Card Game
Fun fact: The Yankees’ 100 wins marks just the second time a Wild Card team won 100-plus games, as the ’01 A’s won 102.

Yankees 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. One of the pitchers Rothschild oversees is Sonny Gray (’17), the Smyrna native and Vanderbilt alum who made a rehab appearance with the Sounds last year. Gray went 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA in 30 games (23 starts) this year for the Bronx Bombers, though he is not on their roster for the Wild Card Game.

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Boston Red Sox
Record: 108-54
How they made it: Won the AL East
Fun fact: The Red Sox have been around since 1908, and their 108 wins this year are a franchise record.

For the ALDS, the Red Sox have one former Sound on their active roster and two on their coaching staff, as well as two very recognizable Middle Tennessee natives. Former Sound Ryan Brasier (’15-’16) was named a Triple-A all-star this year at Pawtucket but didn’t appear in the game because he was called up to Boston. He posted a 1.60 ERA in 34 appearances in his return to the big leagues. He was a crucial part of the Sounds’ division-championship team in ’16. He was joined in the Boston bullpen in the regular season by former Sound Tyler Thornburg (’12-’13), who missed all of last year and fought his way back from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome to make 25 appearances for the Red Sox this year. Thornburg is not on the roster for the ALDS. David Price, the Murfreesboro native and former Vanderbilt star, went 16-7 with a 3.58 ERA in 30 starts, and Mookie Betts, an Overton High School alum, hit .346 with 32 homers and 80 RBIs in 136 games and is the likely AL MVP. First-year manager Alex Cora’s bench coach is former Sound Ron Roenicke (’88), the former Brewers manager who played in 83 games with the Sounds as a Reds minor leaguer in 1988. Boston’s assistant hitting coach is Andy Barkett (’01), who played in 91 games as a Sound in 1991 for the Pirates and was called up for his major league debut that season. It’s his first year as a major league coach after many years as a minor league manager, coach and coordinator.

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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.

 

 

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The MLB Postseason continues Thursday as both of the National League Division Series get underway. The Brewers, after defeating the Cubs on Monday to clinch the NL Central, host the Wild Card Game victor Rockies. Then it’s the Dodgers, who beat the Rockies on Monday to win the NL West, hosting the Braves. Each of the 10 clubs in the postseason had/has at least one former Sound on the roster either as a player, manager or coach, and it’s possible the Sounds are the only minor league team that can claim that. As many 50 former Sounds could be involved by the end depending on roster decisions as the playoffs unfold. Below is a breakdown for the two NLDS match-ups, and I’ll cover the American League Division Series on Friday.

(Previous post: former Sounds involved in the Rockies-Cubs game HERE.)
(Previous post: former Sounds involved in the A’s-Yankees game HERE.)

Colorado Rockies
Record:
 91-72
How they made it: Won the second NL Wild Card spot; Defeated the Cubs in the NL Wild Card Game
Fun fact: Last year the Rockies reached the playoffs for the first time since ’09, and now they’ve made it in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history.

The Rockies don’t have any players on their active roster who are former Sounds, but their pitching staff again is led by pitching coach and former Sound Steve Foster (’91-’92), who pitched in 59 games for the Reds from ’91-’93 and appeared in 58 games as a Sound over two seasons. He posted a 2.14 ERA with 12 saves for the Sounds in ’91 and then had a 2.68 ERA in 17 outings (7 starts) in ’92, the final year of the Sounds’ affiliation with the Reds before they became a White Sox affiliate.

Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster (Courtesy Nashville Sounds)

Milwaukee Brewers
Record:
 96-67
How they made it: Won the NL Central
Fun fact: The Brewers are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 when they were the Sounds’ parent club and reached the NLCS.

The Brewers have three former Sounds on their active roster, all of whom were with the Sounds during that affiliation. Lorenzo Cain (’08, ’10) made his return to Milwaukee this year as one of the big off-season acquisitions by the Brewers (also see Yelich, Christian). They’d drafted him in ’04 and then included him in the trade with Kansas City that brought Zack Greinke to Milwaukee going into ’11, which was the last Brewers playoff season until now. Cain hit .308 with a career-high 30 steals this year in a lineup that continues to boast one of the all-time Brewers greats, Ryan Braun (’07).  Braun has 20-plus homers for the ninth time in his career. The Brewers’ bullpen is nasty, and a big reason why is former Sound Jeremy Jeffress (’14), one of three Milwaukee relievers with 10-plus saves. Jeffress owns a 1.29 ERA in 73 appearances. The Brewers also have a pair of former Sounds on manager Craig Counsell’s field staff. Their hitting coach is Darnell Coles (’92), who played in 22 games for the Sounds in 1992 when they were a Reds affiliate. He hit six homers in those 22 games, and three of them came on April 10 at Denver that season when he tied a franchise record. He remains one of seven Sounds all-time to hit three homers in one contest. He technically was also the Sounds’ manager for a brief time. He’d been named to that post by the Brewers in October ’13 before getting a major league coaching job with the Tigers later that off-season. The Brewers then replaced him in Nashville with Rick Sweet, who managed the Sounds in ’14 and has been Milwaukee’s Triple-A manager ever since. Former Sounds catcher Robinzon Diaz (’14) serves as the Brewers’ bullpen catcher. It’s his second 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 another local connection on their staff with pitching Derek Johnson, who was Vanderbilt’s pitching coach for 11 years (’02-’12) before he joined the Cubs as their minor league pitching coordinator. It’s his third season as Brewers pitching coach. Part of what makes the Brewers’ pitching staff so impressive is they’ve been without one of the anchors of their starting rotation, former Sound Jimmy Nelson (’13-’14), all season. He’s recovering from a right shoulder injury.

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Atlanta Braves
Record:
 90-72
How they made it: Won the NL East
Fun fact: The Braves are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013, and they’re looking to get past the Division Series for the first time since 2001.

The Braves don’t have any players on their active roster who are former Sounds, but their pitching staff again is led by pitching coach and former Sound Chuck Hernandez (’83), who made five starts for the Sounds in 1983 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. Though they don’t have any former Sounds as players, the Braves certainly have some local ties with several former Vanderbilt stars, including Ryan Flaherty, Dansby Swanson, and late in the regular season, Kyle Wright. Unfortunately a lingering left hand injury kept Swanson off the Braves’ roster for the NLDS.

Braves pitching coach Chuck Hernandez (Courtesy MLB.com)

Los Angeles Dodgers
Record:
 92-71
How they made it: Won the NL West
Fun fact: The Dodgers are in the playoffs for a franchise-record sixth straight season. If they reach the World Series, they will have won consecutive NL pennants for the first time since 1977-78.

The Dodgers once again boast a pair of former Sounds on manager Dave Roberts’ coaching staff. Their third base coach is Chris Woodward (’08), who played 12 years in the major leagues and hit .291 in 71 games for the Sounds in 2008. The Dodgers’ hitting coach is former Sound Turner Ward (’99), who also played 12 years in the major leagues. He hit .292 in 35 games for the Sounds in 1999. Woodward and Ward observed first-hand the monster season from former Sound Max Muncy (’15-’16), who went from an unsigned minor league free agent in early ’17 after being let go by the A’s to an everyday big leaguer and a Home Run Derby participant who smashed 34 homers this year. Among the things I’ll never forget about Muncy is his game-winning hit in extra innings in the inaugural game at First Tennessee Park on April 18, 2015. What a way to open a new ballpark! The Dodgers had two former Sounds on their roster late in the season they’ve elected to leave off their roster in the NLDS. One is the amazing switch-pitcher Pat Venditte (’15), who went back and forth several times this year from L.A. to OKC. He posted a 2.57 ERA in 15 appearances in the big leagues. The other is John Axford (’09-’10, ’17), who worked in 45 games for the Blue Jays before the Dodgers acquired him in late July. Other local connections with the Dodgers include Vanderbilt alum Walker Buehler, the Dodgers’ 1st-round pick in ’15 who made his major league debut last year and was the Dodgers’ starting pitcher Monday against the Rockies in Game 163, and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, a Chattanooga native, former UT Vol and a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

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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.

 

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The MLB Postseason got underway last night with the National League Wild Card Game. Tonight it’s the American League’s turn. It’s the A’s at the Yankees, and a ton of former Sounds are involved. As I wrote yesterday, each of the 10 clubs in the postseason has at least one former Sound on the roster either as a player, manager or coach, and as many 50 former Sounds could be involved depending on roster decisions as the playoffs unfold. Below is a breakdown for the Athletics and Yankees. I’ll have more on the Division Series teams tomorrow, and you can see yesterday’s post about the former Sounds that were involved in the Rockies-Cubs game HERE.

New York Yankees
Record: 100-62
How they made it: Won the top AL Wild Card spot
Fun fact: The Yankees’ 100 wins marks just the second time a Wild Card team won 100-plus games, as the ’01 A’s won 102.

Yankees 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. One of the pitchers Rothschild oversees is Sonny Gray (’17), the Smyrna native and Vanderbilt alum who made a rehab appearance with the Sounds last year. Gray went 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA in 30 games (23 starts) this year for the Bronx Bombers, though he is not on their roster for the Wild Card Game.

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Oakland Athletics
Record: 97-65
How they made it: Won the second AL Wild Card spot
Fun fact: The A’s are in the playoffs for the first time since they made it three years in a row from ’12-’14, and their 97 wins are their highest total since they won 103 in ’02.

Given that the Sounds spent the past four seasons as an A’s affiliate before recently announcing a new parent club, and the A’s then affiliating in Las Vegas, there aren’t many members of the A’s who are NOT former Sounds. Of the 25 players on the A’s roster for tonight, 19 are former Sounds in one way or another, and 12 of them played for the Sounds this past season! The A’s amazing season has been piloted by manager 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 and was called up to Detroit in late May that year for his major league debut. His bench coach, as many Sounds fans know, is Ryan Christenson (’17), who managed the Sounds last year before joining Melvin’s staff this year. Keep in mind that teams use a very different strategy in making roster decisions for the single Wild Card Game than for the best-of-five Division series, so it’ll change if the A’s defeat the Yankees and advance. The A’s have joined the trend of teams electing to use a reliever, or “opener,” to start a game, and tonight they’ll give that job to Liam Hendriks (’16, ’18), who rehabbed with the Sounds two years ago and then made 23 appearances with the Sounds this past season after being designated for assignment. He had a 2.84 ERA for the Sounds, earned his way back to Oakland in September and had much better results down the stretch. The A’s have two former Sounds who played in Nashville as Brewers prospects and now are key veterans in Oakland: outfielder/DH Khris Davis (’12-’13), who had another monster year with an 48 homers (1st in MLB) and 123 RBIs (2nd in AL), and catcher Jonathan Lucroy (’10, ’12), a crucial presence for a mostly young pitching staff. The young core of the A’s and their bright future is built around several recent Sounds, including first baseman Matt Olson (’16-’17), who played in all 162 games this year, third baseman and soon-to-be perennial Gold Glove winner Matt Chapman (’16-’17), utility man Chad Pinder (’16-’17) and outfielder and human highlight reel Ramon Laureano (’18). The Sounds’ team MVP from this year, Nick Martini (’18), has become a fixture in the Oakland outfield and the top of the order, and second baseman and Sounds fan favorite Franklin Barreto (’16-’18) is on the A’s roster for the Wild Card Game over Dustin Fowler (’18) as a speed option off the bench. The only regular starting pitcher the A’s have on their roster for this “bullpen game” is Edwin Jackson (’18), and the rest of the pitching staff includes several guys who pitched for the Sounds this year: Emilio Pagan (’18), Lou Trivino (’17-’18) and J.B. Wendelken (’18). Catcher Josh Phegley (’16-’18), who earned his way back to the A’s roster this year after a stint with the Sounds, will back up Lucroy tonight, and Mark Canha (’17-’18) is in the outfield and another of the many A’s who played for the Sounds this year. There are also four A’s players who played for the Sounds at some point in the past few years on a major league rehab assignment: infielder Jed Lowrie (1 game in ’16), shortstop Marcus Semien (3 games in ’17), reliever Ryan Buchter (4 games in ’18) and outfielder Matt Joyce (9 games in ’18).

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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
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Welcome back to October baseball! It felt like the MLB postseason got started yesterday with two divisions needing a 163rd game to claim a champion, but tonight it officially starts with the National League Wild Card Game. This year, like every year, the playoffs are swarming with former Sounds. Between the 10 clubs in the post-season and what their active roster looked like at the end of the regular season, there could be over 50 former Sounds involved in the playoffs, and several more who have local ties in other ways. 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 combatants on Thursday.

Chicago Cubs
Record: 95-68
How they made it: Won the top NL Wild Card spot
Fun fact: The Cubs have now reached the post-season four years in a row, the first time they’ve done that in the history of the franchise, which began in 1903.

The Cubs ended the regular season with two former Sounds on their player roster. One is Franklin resident Ben Zobrist (’15), the three-time all-star who appeared in three road games for the Sounds in ‘15 on a rehab assignment with the A’s. Longtime Sounds fans may also remember Zobrist’s wife, Christian recording artist Julianna Zobrist, from being a featured artist at a Faith Night concert at Greer Stadium several years ago. The other former Sound is Brandon Kintzler (’10-’12), though the Cubs elected to leave him off the Wild Card Game roster because he pitched Monday in Game #163 against the Brewers. If the Cubs advance, Kintzler would be on the Division Series roster. He was acquired from Washington at the July 31 trade deadline and pitched for Washington against the Cubs in the playoffs last year. The Cubs do still have a local connection in their bullpen for Tuesday’s game against Colorado, as they’re including Clarksville native Alec Mills, who pitched against the Sounds this year with Iowa and made seven appearances in the big leagues for Chicago. Mills played collegiately at UT-Martin. Cubs third base coach Brian Butterfield (’82) played four years of professional baseball and appeared in 11 games with the Sounds in ’82 on a team that won the Southern League title and boasted players like Brian Dayett, Rex Hudler, Otis Nixon and Buck Showalter. Butterfield has plenty of postseason coaching experience, having been with Boston the previous five seasons. The Cubs have another local connection on their coaching staff with assistant hitting coach Andy Haines, a former MTSU coach who makes his off-season home in Columbia, TN. Haines and his family had spent plenty of time as a visitor at First Tennessee Park the last few years, first managing in the Pacific Coast League with New Orleans for the Marlins, and then joining the Cubs and serving two years as their minor league hitting coordinator before assuming his current role.

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Colorado Rockies
Record:
 91-72
How they made it: Won the second NL Wild Card spot
Fun fact: Last year the Rockies reached the playoffs for the first time since ’09, and now they’ve made it in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history.

The Rockies don’t have any players on their active roster who are former Sounds, but their pitching staff again is led by pitching coach and former Sound Steve Foster (’91-’92), who pitched in 59 games for the Reds from ’91-’93 and appeared in 58 games as a Sound over two seasons. He posted a 2.14 ERA with 12 saves for the Sounds in ’91 and then had a 2.68 ERA in 17 outings (7 starts) in ’92, the final year of the Sounds’ affiliation with the Reds before they became a White Sox affiliate.

Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster (Courtesy MLB.com)

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.

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