News release from the TinCaps:
Former TinCaps, Wizards in MLB Postseason
Fort Wayne Alumni Chase World Series Title
(October 8, 2015) â€” After two wild card games, eight teams remain alive in Major League Baseball’s Postseason, and several former TinCaps and Wizards have a shot at winning the 2015 World Series.
While 54 Fort Wayne alumni played in the majors during the regular season, four players and one coach are on active rosters for the American League and National League Division Series.
LaTroy Hawkins, an original 1993 Wizard, is in the bullpen for the Toronto Blue Jays. Hawkins, who at 42 is the oldest player in the big leagues, began the season with the Colorado Rockies before being dealt to the Jays before the trade deadline. In 18 regular season appearances for the Jays, “Hawk” posted a 2.76 ERA.
Hawkins was a starting pitcher in ’93 and still holds Fort Wayne franchise records for strikeouts in a game (15), strikeouts in a season (179), complete games (4), and complete game shutouts (2). The Gary, Ind., native ranks second for wins in a season (15) and ERA (2.06). This is the fifth time in his 21-year career MLB career that he’s in the postseason.
Michael Cuddyer, who starred for the Wizards in 1998, was teammates with Hawkins on the Minnesota Twins for a pair of playoff runs. Now the outfielder is prepared for his seventh postseason overall, and first with the New York Mets. At 36, Cuddyer hit .259 during the regular season with 10 home runs and 41 RBIs. The right-handed veteran is expected to start against left-hander pitchers.
Back in ’98, in his first season of professional baseball, Cuddyer led the Wizards offensively with 12 homers and 81 RBIs along with a .276 batting average. His 37 doubles that year are tied for third most in franchise history. Cuddyer was a shortstop at the time, although he’s never played the position since, and committed a franchise record 61 errors.
Will Venable held the Fort Wayne single-season record for RBIs with 91 in 2006 until that mark was broken a year ago. Now Venable is making his postseason debut with the Texas Rangers as a backup outfielder valued for his defense, leadership, and left-handed bat. The Rangers acquired the 32-year-old Venable from the Padres in a mid-season trade. He hit .244 this year with six home runs and 33 RBIs. In ’06, the Princeton alum shined in Fort Wayne, knocking 11 homers and batting .314.
Oliver Perez started 19 games on the mound for the 2001 Wizards, going 8-5 with a 3.46 ERA. A 34-year-old reliever now, Perez is a left-handed specialist for the Houston Astros. He began the season with the Arizona Diamondbacks before he was shipped to the Astros in August. He had a 4.17 ERA in the regular season, while limiting lefties to a .185 average. He previously pitched in the playoffs in ’06 as a starter for the Mets.
Gary Jones, who managed the Wizards to the Midwest League Playoffs in 2003, is the third base coach for the Chicago Cubs. Jones returned to Fort Wayne on occasion from ’07-13 as the Padres’ minor league infield coordinator. He joined Chicago’s major league staff last year.
Meanwhile, a few other former TinCaps and Wizards were already eliminated in the wild card round: Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Joakim Soria ’06, New York Yankees starting third baseman Chase Headley ’05, and Yankees backup outfielder Rico Noel ’11.
The list of former Fort Wayne players who’ve won a World Series includes catcher A.J. Pierzynski ’95-96 (2005 Chicago White Sox), third baseman David Freese ’06 (2011 St. Louis Cardinals), and starting pitcher Jake Peavy ’00 (2013 Boston Red Sox, 2014 San Francisco Giants).
2015 American League Division Series
- Kansas City Royals vs. Houston Astros
- Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers
2015 National League Division Series
- St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs
- Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Mets
Note — The following played on AL playoff teams during the regular season, but are/were not active so far in the postseason: reliever Anthony Bass ’09 (Texas Rangers), infielder/outfielder Kyle Blanks ’06 (Texas Rangers), reliever Steve Delabar ’06-08 (Toronto Blue Jays), reliever Colt Hynes ’08-09 (Toronto Blue Jays), reliever Jose De Paula ’10 (New York Yankees), and infielder Cole Figueroa ’09 (New York Yankees). The same goes in the NL for: infielder Dean Anna ’09 (St. Louis Cardinals), relief pitcher Nick Greenwood ’09-10 (St. Louis Cardinals), outfielder Mike Baxter ’05-06 (Chicago Cubs), outfielder Jaff Decker ’09 (Pittsburgh Pirates), and starting pitcher Mat Latos ’08-09 (Los Angeles Dodgers).