Results tagged ‘ Wisconsin Timber Rattlers ’
by Kevin Kimmes
In the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft, Milwaukee had the luxury of drafting 3 players in the 1st round: Clint Coulter (27th), Victor Roache (28th) and Mitch Haniger (38th). While Roache will start the season for the AZL Brewers of the Arizona League, both Coulter and Haniger will look to make a name for themselves right here in Wisconsin as members of the defending Midwest League Champion Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
Last week during the team’s media day, I had the opportunity to talk briefly with both Clint and Mitch about where they come from and what they look to do in 2013.
Milwaukee’s 1st pick in the 2012 draft, Coulter is a catcher considered by many to be the best high school player in the Pacific Northwest. A versatile ball player, Coulter started as a shortstop before being moved to third and eventually landing at catcher due to his strong arm.
“I played every game in the Arizona League at catcher and all through the winter they sent me catching drills to do. All through spring training I caught, so if it’s not catcher I’m really going to be surprised.”
One advantage that Coulter has had right out the gate was having former Major League catcher Tom Lampkin as his high school coach. Lampkin, who played parts of 13 seasons for six different teams, including the Brewers in 1993, helped define the psychological aspects of the position for him.
“I didn’t get to work with him a ton as far as technical aspects of catching, but psychologically we still talk. I just talked to him before I came. He knows that it’s a grind and that he’s been there and done that so he’s been able to talk me through stuff like that.”
Drawing comparisons to catcher Mike Napoli, Coulter says that he based his game around that of Atlanta Braves catcher, Brian McCann.
“He’s definitely a really good catcher as well as a good hitter. In High School I switch hit a little bit, hit a little bit left handed. Now I’ve stuck solely to right handed. But also, it’s the leadership aspect. He’s really respected by his peers. As well as guys like Jason Varitek, he’s got the Captain on his shirt, so if you can be the leader, you’re the catcher, you run the ship. I just want to be that type of guy.”
Milwaukee’s 3rd pick in the 1st round of the 2012 draft, Haniger made a brief appearance with the Timber Rattlers in 2012 before being sidelined with an injury.
“I tore my PCL in my right knee on a bad slide into home plate and then tried to stay in the game. I don’t know if I hurt it worse trying to run to 1st on my next at bat, but that’s when I really felt it and had to come out of the game. I had to go to Arizona for the remaining 3 months of the year and just rehab and get healthy.”
When asked about how the knee is feeling this year, Haniger assured me that it’s feeling good and that he’s faster and stronger than ever before.
As an outfielder, Haniger states that his goals for 2013 are to focus on his defense, throwing, and hitting.
“I want to continue to play good defense and throw guys out from the outfield, continue to have good at bats, hit the ball hard and do what I can to help my team win.”
Additionally, for card collectors out there, it should be noted that Haniger made his initial cardboard appearances with Brewers cards appearing in both 2012 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects and 2012 Bowman Sterling.
“It’s pretty cool. I signed a few in the offseason, so I think I saw them before anyone else did, but that was pretty cool to finally see my name on a card.”
The Timber Rattlers play their first home game of the 2013 season this evening at 6:35 PM at Fox Cities Stadium. All fans in attendance will receive a Matt Erickson bobblehead.
Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and a 2013 MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.
by Kevin Kimmes
With less than 4 weeks until their home opener on April 8th, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers invited the media out to Fox Cities Stadium on Tuesday to preview the parks newly renovated amenities. The 6.2 million dollar renovation began last fall following the teams last Midwest League Championship Series home-game and currently stands at about 95% complete, which according to Timber Rattlers President, Rob Zerjav, puts the progress ahead of schedule.
Zerjav stated Tuesday that the renovation will not be coming at the expense of the fans. The project was fully funded by the team, the facility’s owners (The Fox Cities Amateur Sports Authority) and a $400,000 grant from the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau. That means that prices at both the ticket window and the concession stands will be in line with what fans paid last season.
So, what can fans expect when they head out to the ballpark this season?
1) An expanded team store: Twice the size of the old team store, the new store will be open during the day and will allow the team to have an expanded selection of merchandise on hand at all times.
2) Parking lot accessible restrooms: Piggybacking off of the existing concourse restrooms, the new restrooms will provide amenities for tailgaters prior to gates opening on game day.
3) 2nd Floor Banquet Facility/Club Level: One of the big focal points of the renovation was to turn the park into a year round venue which has been accomplished with the addition of an enclosed banquet facility on the parks new upper level. Already scheduled to host 12 weddings this year, the team is looking into how the space can be utilized for other non-baseball events potentially including concerts or festivals.
Tickets for the Club Level will be $15.00. This section of the facility will also be open for 2 hours after every home game giving fans who don’t want to go home yet a place to hang out.
4) Luxury boxes: Also located on the parks upper level, 6 luxury boxes have been added which replace the teams 3 suites which they previously had . Each box is designed to accommodate 14 fans with outside seating for 10 and an additional 4 seats located at a party bar inside the boxes themselves. Additional features of the boxes include closed circuit TV and waitstaff. The boxes will be rented out on a 1/4, 1/2 and full season basis.
5) Increased stadium capacity: Stadium capacity has increased from 5,500 to 5,900 with the addition of the upper deck. While not a huge jump in capacity, the expanded facilities should make for an even better fan experience on game day.
The Timber Rattlers play their first home game of the 2013 season against the Cedar Rapids Kernels on Monday April 8th with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 pm.
Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.
Despite leaving Appleton on Thursday tied at a game a piece, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers were able to overcome the hostile environment of playing on the road and took games 3 and 4 in Fort Wayne in order to win their first Midwest League pennant. The win was the cherry on the sunday of what was an amazing season for Milwaukee’s Low-A affiliate. So, without further ado, let’s look at some of the highlights.
8 Timber Rattlers Take Part in the Midwest League All-Star Game
The following players took part in this years All-Star Game held at Kane County:
7 Players Promoted to High-A Brevard County
Rehab Starts A Plenty
The following Brewers each spent some time on the Appleton Roster this year:
For the Record
Brandon Macias set a dubious team record becoming the most hit batsman in team history. Macias was hit 21 times this season, breaking the old record of 18 times held by Luis Tinoco.
Chadwin Stang’s 19 game hitting streak was the 3rd longest in team history behind Luis Tinoco (27 in 1996) and Josh Womack (22 in 2005).
Ben McMahan became only the 2nd player in team history to record double digits in doubles, triples and home runs in a season with 21/11/15. The only other player to complete this accomplishment was Chris Colton in 2004.
The following players had multi-homer games this season:
Greg Hopkins (x2)
Cream City Cables would like to not only congratulate the players, coaches, and staff for all they did to make this championship possible, but also would like to thank the organization for providing us access to the team and players throughout the season. I can’t wait to get the 2013 season started to see what the team does in defense of the title.
Despite being delayed by an hour due to rain, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers managed to get Game 2 of their best of 5 series with the Fort Wayne TinCaps in on Thursday afternoon. The results however, were not exactly to their liking.
The Rattlers were downed by the TinCaps 5-1, and now must play the remaining games of the series in enemy territory. When asked about today’s loss, Chad Pierce said the following:
“If we score 4 runs, we can afford to give up 3. Today, we scored 1 run, so we needed to give up zero. You know, I battled, I just wish I had thrown better. That 2 run inning (top of the 5th) I was leaving balls up. Luckily, they were mishitting throughout the game.”
The lone run today came in the bottom of the bottom of the 4th when 1st baseman Nick Ramirez crushed a solo homer to center that bounced on the outfield walkway before disappearing over the parks exterior wall. Ramirez, who led the team in home runs during the regular season with 16, was unfazed by the task of having to win 2 games on the road in Fort Wayne:
“It’s just a game. It doesn’t make the game any tougher. We just have to go to their place and have an us against the world mentality. We’ve been pretty good on the road this year, so I don’t think it changes anything.”
If there is a silver lining to be found in today’s loss, it has to be that despite the offensive struggles the team has seen in the first 2 games (6 total hits in 2 games, with 2 runs in Game 1 coming off of wild pitches), the team is heading to Fort Wayne with a series split.
“There is definitely a belief that we can get this done,” Rattlers manager Matt Erickson stated in his post game press conference. “We’ve won a lot of series this year, and we’ve been alright on the road as well, and that’s what it boils down to. It’s a 3 game series now and we need to go on the road and take 2 out of 3. But, no, there is no loss of hope by any means just by losing this ballgame.”
Friday is a scheduled travel day for both teams, with the series resuming on Saturday evening in Fort Wayne with Game 3 scheduled for a 6:05 pm start.
Last night in Game 1 of the best of 5 Midwest League Championship series, Timber Rattlers catcher Rafael Neda scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 10th to give the team a walk-off win and a 1-0 advantage over the Fort Wayne Tin Caps. This morning I took a few moments to talk with Rafael about last night’s performance and what it means to him to be this far into the playoffs.
CCC: Last night in Game 1 of the Championship series, you had 2 hits and drove in a run. You then scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 10th to win the game for the Rattlers. What was going through your mind as you watched the pitch go wild?
RN: I was just expecting something out of the catchers reach and I was going to score no matter what.
CCC: With your offense factoring heavily in last night’s win, you drove in Max Walla in the 4th and then started the rally in the 10th, are you approaching your at bats differently in the post season, or are you just looking for good pitches and taking advantage of what you see?
RN: Not at all. I’m just trying to put the ball in play and that’s it. I’m not doing anything different, anything special, I’m just trying to put the ball in play, that’s it.
CCC: Finally, what does it mean to you to have gone this far into the playoffs and what is different about this years squad compared to last years?
RN: It’s been really, really fun so far, and of course, we don’t want this to end. Of course, we still have to win two more games, and we’re just going to keep working hard to win those games. It’s been really, really fun so far, long year, but really, really fun.
The Timber Rattlers are scheduled to play Game 2 today at 12:05 pm. Follow me on Twitter (@kevinkimmes) to get updates as the Timber Rattlers press ever closer to the Midwest League Championship.
Ladies and gentlemen, there will be a game 3! Facing the threat of elimination, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers took game 2 of their best of 3 series with the Burlington Bees on Thursday night and in the process, tied the series at a game a piece. And they did it in true Hollywood fashion.
It was a “home town boy makes good” kind of story as Fond du Lac’s own Chad Pierce who faced the pressure and put together the only 9 inning complete game shutout of the year (Mark Williams had a 7 inning complete game earlier this season). The Rattler bats helped to ease the pressure early as the team put together 3 runs in the bottom of the 1st, and a 4th in the 2nd inning. It would turn out that these would be the only scores for either side all evening.
“The offense gave us some runs in the beginning, and you know, that’s what a good team does, score early and hold ‘em” Pierce said post-game.
“It was a battle, but luckily they miss hit. Our defense played spectacular, (Chadwin) Stang ran down a bunch of balls. (Max) Walla, (Ben) McMahan to start off the game in the 1st inning, and Yadi (Yadiel Rivera) he had probably 8 to 10 putouts, or something like that. Then, Cias (Brandon Macias) had that diving stop, so the defense was spectacular.”
The win comes on the back of a 4-0 shutout in Burlington on Wednesday, which forced the team into a corner. It was now going to be the teams first home game of 2012, and possibly their last.
Coach Matt Erickson said, “Yesterday, they come out and their starter did exactly what Pierce did to them tonight, and that’s exactly what we needed. Now, immediately the momentum is back on our side and now it’s up to (David) Goforth to set the tone tomorrow and hopefully we can continue to play solid defense and get some timely hitting.”
Game 3 will be played tonight at Fox Cities Stadium with a 6:35 pm first pitch.
After Thursday nights loss to the Beloit Snappers, I sat down with Timber Rattlers manager Matt Erickson to discuss the playoffs, and what effect winning the first half has on a team.
CCC: With next week being the beginning of the playoffs, what preparations have you and the coaching staff put in place to make sure that the team is ready for the next phase of this season?
ME: We’ve talked a little bit about our pitching staff and how we want to set it up. I don’t know if we’re totally committed to it yet, we’re still talking about some things there, so I don’t know if I want to release that quite yet, but the overall health of the team is important. You want to be as healthy as you can and it was unfortunate we lost (Greg) Hopkins in our last home-stand to a ruptured quad, so he’s done for the season.
Tomorrow (Friday) and the next three days, I’ll rest people who need rest, and those who are healthy will play, and hopefully we can get on a little run here.
CCC: With the new infusion of talent in several players that have been added recently, along with the constant churn that A-ball has as guys go up, guys go down, are there guys you are going to be looking towards more than others? Possibly those that have been with the team longer?
ME: Yeah, it’s pretty much that you’re going to run the hot hand out there when the game is on the line. Right now it is very much a developmental stage, and it really is throughout the season. You don’t really always have the matchups that you really want, but you’re going to get innings to the guys that are up, at least as far as the pitching staff is concerned, but yeah, there will be a bit more matching up in the post season. Whoever is throwing the ball good down there is going to get the ball.
CCC: With winning the first half, do you feel that it’s more of an advantage or a disadvantage, considering how sports have been the last several years where we’ve seen a lot of teams take a hot hand from the end of the season and run it all the way to the championship?
ME: Sure. I’m never going to argue with winning. Whether it be at the beginning of the season, the middle, or the end, but you’re right. Most of the teams, especially in baseball the last few years, are the teams that get hot towards the end and have a belief, and that’s really the run that we got on in the first half.
It was really a similar situation in the first half, as to how it ended. These guys (Beloit Snappers) came in the series before the last, we were up by a game or two, and we swept them at home which pretty much locked up the first half for us. We were playing good baseball, and we were on a run. Now, they’re playing good baseball, us, not so much at the moment. Hopefully, we have 4 games left at the end of the season and we can find that belief and take that right into the playoffs.
The Timber Rattlers are 1-1 in their last 2 games, with Saturday’s game being postponed and rescheduled as part of a double header this afternoon against the Burlington Bees.
The first round of the playoffs kicks off on Wednesday, with the Rattlers on the road to face their as yet to be determined opponent. The series then comes home to Fox Cities Stadium for games two and three to be played this Thursday and Friday. Tickets are available through the teams official website.
At just 23 years old, Timber Rattler’s 1st baseman Nick Ramirez has experienced more in his short baseball career than many players will if they play well into their twilight years. As a member of Team USA, Nick was afforded the opportunity to travel the world doing what he loves, playing baseball.
Yesterday, I sat down and talked to Nick about his time as a 1st baseman/reliever for Cal State Fullerton, Team USA, the injury that left him sidelined earlier this season, and what it means to play for a contender.
CCC: I looked into your back-story a little bit, and discovered that not only are you a power hitting first baseman, but you also have some experience as a reliever and were the closer for Cal State Fullerton.
NR: In college, my freshman year, I was thrown into that later in the season. I think I only had 7 opportunities to save in my freshman year. Ever since that, I liked the adrenalin rush, so my sophomore year I planned on doing it the whole year, so that’s what I did do.
It was fun to play 1st base for 8 innings, then run down to the bullpen, throw like 10 pitches, and then it’s “All right, I’m hot!” I did that my sophomore and junior year.
I really don’t like pitching, but I compete and I wanted to win the game, so if I feel like I give the team the best opportunity to do it, then I’m going to compete to let our team win, and that’s what we were doing. I kind of fell into the roll of, “If you give me the ball, then alright, let’s go!”
It was always fun to hear the guys say: “Alright Nick, let’s go home.” “Alright, let’s go.”
CCC: So, do you think it’s one of those things in the future where you’re going to be up in the big leagues, it’s the late innings, and you’re going to get the call from the bench, “Ok, let’s put it away”?
NR: No, I don’t think so, not any more. That whole thing is in my past and I want to be in the big leagues as a first baseman and not worry about pitching any more.
CCC: Now speaking of first base, you currently lead the team in home runs (13) and RBI (55). As a a power hitting first baseman, and with the void left by the departure of Prince Fielder in the organization, do you feel it presents an opportunity for a player like you to make an advancement to the majors in short order?
NR: I wouldn’t say that because there are guys in the organization already who are capable. I’m just out here every day trying to get better and be a better player everyday. There are plenty of things I need to work on and when the time for me to be in the big leagues is ready, then I guess that’s when I’m going to be there.
CCC: Being a relatively young guy, a lot of guys your age are lucky if they have played across the country. You, on the other hand, have played around the world as part of Team USA. What was that experience like for you?
NR: That was definitely an eye opening experience with how much talent there is around the world, especially with Cuba. Cuba was unbelievable when we played them. We played Chinese Taipei…
CCC: In which you hit a walk off single in the 11th to win the game.
NR: Yeah, that was crazy because every country that we played plays baseball differently. It was definitely fun to see all the different countries and how they play baseball and all that stuff. It was fun to travel around the world and get treated how we did and get taken care of.
CCC: Earlier in the year you had the hamate fracture in your hand, one of the more common baseball injuries. What was it like having to start the season off in the rehab process and then having to come in with the season already underway?
NR: It definitely wasn’t easy and wasn’t something that I had planned on. It was kind of just a freak thing. I’ve asked myself probably 100 times, “If it didn’t break in Spring Training, when would it have broke?”, because they told me if it didn’t do it then, it was destined to happen.
It was just tough going through the rehab and staying mentally tough knowing that I’m in Arizona not doing anything with a cast on my hand when all my buddies are playing. I’m texting my buddies, “Hey, how are you doing, blah, blah, blah…” but their texts back weren’t “How are you doing?” they were “When are you going to swing a bat again?”
Yeah, it was tough to do all of that, but there was no better feeling than once I got cleared and heard “Ok, you’re heading out.”
CCC: So, now that you’re here, you’re playing on a contender. You guys have already punched the ticket into the post season, so, what is that like and how do you keep focused knowing that you are headed to the post season with almost 1/4 of the season left to play?
NR: We have a good group here. No one is really taking anything easy, especially with the playoffs already guaranteed. This is a group of guys who likes to win. No one here likes to lose, no one settles for anything either. We go out there and compete everyday, and most of the time when we compete, we are going to win. So, that’s nice because it’s hard enough to lose. We go out here and try to win every game regardless of the playoffs.
CCC: Growing up did you collect cards?
NR: Not really. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t much of a cards kid growing up, I was too busy playing baseball. I’ve never really collected cards, but it’s kind of cool now to see how many cards I have, especially since I just signed (with Milwaukee) last year. I think I’ve already got 3 or 4 cards out.
CCC: Looking online, you’ve got some Team USA stuff, some Bowman, the Pro Debut…
NR: Yeah, it’s cool to have people ask me to sign stuff all the time. It’s pretty cool.
You can follow Nick on Twitter @N_Ram3314.
by Kevin Kimmes
On Thursday, Jonathan Lucroy made the all important first step on the road back to The Show, making a rehab appearance for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and sharing the kind of experienced advice with the team that only a tenured player can.
“When the guy ahead of me, (Brandon) Macias, came up with a runner on third, I was like, look, you’ve got to get something out over the plate, be patient, and hit it the other way. For me, with a runner on third and nobody out or one out, you try to get a guy to roll over. I was trying to give the guy a tip, go the other way, hit the ball up in the zone, and he did. He got the ball up in the zone and drove it.”
Lucroy’s guidance was seen on defense as well. While behind the plate, Lucroy assisted starter Matt Miller in putting together a scoreless performance through 5 innings only allowing 2 hits and a walk.
“I just tried to help him through everything, help him with little stuff: keeping his elbow up, working down in the zone. If you can do that, you’re going to be successful. As far as you go up the ladder, if you stay down with those strikes, you’re going to be successful.”
Offensively, Lucroy looked sharp going 2-3 with a single and a double.
So, what is the next step for Lucroy?
“After my first two ABs, our trainer called Pax (Jeff Paxson), who is the trainer here, and said give him another at bat and another inning behind the plate. It let me get that last AB right there. Hopefully we just continue to move up and increase in at bats. I think one day I might DH, I’m not sure. Towards the end of this home-stand, Saturday and Sunday, I’ll probably be in there for the whole game. Then, I go to Nashville after this where I’ll be catching all nine.”
And for those wondering, he has no lingering resentment towards suitcases.
“I still carry one around, but it looks at me weird some times, so I’ve got to watch it.”
More pictures below.
With the second half of the Low A season now in full swing and the 2012 draft a recent memory, it was only a matter of time before the Timber Rattlers saw an infusion of new talent to replace those team members who have found themselves promoted to the next level. This year, one of those call ups came with a very recognizable name: Roenicke.
Lance Roenicke is the son of Brewers’ manager Ron Roenicke. Drafted in the 25th round of the 2012 Amateur Draft by Milwaukee, Roenicke was signed on June 15th and promoted to the Rattlers roster after only playing in 3 games for the Helena Brewers in the Pioneer League where he batted .538 with an on base percentage of .571. So far, in 6 games with the Rattlers he has continued his hot start batting .529 with a .556 OBP.
On Saturday afternoon, I took a few minutes to discuss what it’s like coming from a baseball family, what he attributes his strong start to, and what it means to be on a team who is already playoff bound.
CCC: Lance, you come from a baseball family. Your dad played for 8 years in the majors, coached for 10 plus, and is currently the manager of the Brewers. Your uncle, Gary, played for 10 years, and your cousin Josh is currently with the Colorado Rockies. What advantage do you think you have coming from a baseball family?
LR: It’s an advantage just being around the lifestyle. It’s a different lifestyle and there’s a lot of games so you just have to bare with it, but I’ve been around the game my whole life. I watched my dad manage in the minors in the Dodger’s organization and then being with the big league team, with the Angels, for 11 years, so I’ve been around the game for a long time. I’ve seen a lot of great players, worked with a lot of great coaches, so I think just being around the game has tremendously helped me.
CCC: What piece of advice did you take away from all of this in order to propel you to where you are today?
LR: Just that you have to work hard, that is the biggest thing. Every level that you move up, the talent level is going to be that much greater, so you have to continue to get better, and that’s why guys are in the majors, they found ways to get better every year. I was doing well in Helena, so they brought me up here, and while I wasn’t playing right away, you just have to keep working, keep sticking with it, and keep getting better here, move on to the next level, keep getting better there. You just have to find ways to keep improving your game to separate yourself from others.
CCC: Speaking of Helena, you only played 3 games there before being called up to the Timber Rattler roster. So far in 6 games with Wisconsin you are batting .529 with a .556 OBP. What do you attribute this success to?
LR: Just grinding out at bats. I’m trying to have the best quality at bats that I can because the game of baseball is tough and you get hit. You can go 0 for 5 with five line outs or you can go 4 for 4 with 4 broken bat singles, so I just continue to work on putting a good swing on the ball, taking balls, swinging at good pitches and having quality at bats.
CCC: Your promotion was obviously tied to Jason Rogers being promoted to Brevard County. With Rogers being an All-Star, do you feel any additional pressure filling in that spot that Rogers left on the team?
LR: There’s going to be pressure regardless, but I don’t really feel it that much because I focus on each day, working hard, trying to get better each day. So if I’m in the lineup or not, I’m going to work hard and try to contribute the best that I can.
CCC: With the Rattlers already having punched their ticket to the post-season, what is your biggest focus for the second half of the season?
LR: Momentum. You see teams, like last year if you watched the World Series, the Cardinals had a great run at the end there and carried it through the post season. Winning the first half is huge as it gives us a ticket to the playoffs, but we need to have a good second half to push us through the playoffs and to have a good playoff run.
CCC: Finally, coming in mid-season do you find the team to be pretty welcoming and how has the transition been so far?
LR: I’ll tell you what, this team has some energy. This is a great group of guys with great chemistry here. They have been very welcoming of Mitch (Haniger) and I right away, and we feel like we get along with these guys pretty well and it’s fun. There’s a lot of games and you need to find ways to entertain yourselves and these players enjoy coming to the ballpark every day.
You can follow Lance on Twitter: @LTRoenicke.