Spring Blogs, 2011 ‘Hawks in 2012, Championships


Spring Training is underway. We are coming ever closer to Opening Night on April 5 at RedHawks Field at Bricktown against the Memphis Redbirds. Season, partial season and seven-game plans along with group outings are available through the RedHawks front office at (405) 218-1000 or by visiting www.okcredhawks.com. As always, send any questions or comments to jp.shadrick@okcredhawks.com or on Twitter: @okcredhawksjp.

Sorry for the day delay in this post! Enjoy…

– J.P.

Follow Spring Training

Houston Astros pitchers and catchers went through their first workouts of Spring Training Monday in Kissimmee, Fla. With players reporting, the internet and blogosphere is full of reports, photos and commentary from Kissimmee and other Spring Training sites. Here are a few of the best (and most trusted) media blogs for Houston Astros Spring Training coverage:

  • http://footer.mlblogs.com – Alyson Footer, Houston Astros Director of Social Media – Footer, an Astros employee, will update daily from Kissimmee with an inside look at the Astros, giving a perspective not always available to fans and regular media. Her blog is one of the most-visited sites on the MLBlogs platform, for good reason. Solid photos, always strong commentary.
  • http://brianmctaggart.mlblogs.com – Brian McTaggart, Astros beat writer, MLB.com and Astros.com.
  • http://blog.chron.com/ultimateastros/section/astros-blog/ – Zachary Levine and Steve Campbell, Astros beat writers, Houston Chronicle

Nearly all Astros positions are up for grabs, as new General Manager Jeff Luhnow calls the shots with Manager Brad Mills. These blogs will give you the latest on position battles as Spring Training heats up.

Where are They Now?

A number of 2011 RedHawks were not renewed by the Houston Astros for the 2012 season. Some have latched on with other organizations, while others remained unsigned for 2012. This is not the complete list, but here are few highlights, in alphabetical order:

Robinson Cancel - Catcher

  • Cancel 2011 Stats with OKC: 94 G, .299, 4 HR, 51 RBI. The 35-year-old was sitting on the couch in March 2011 and with the Houston Astros in late May… Very consistent hitter with OKC but had struggles in Houston, granted free agency in October;
  • Cancel in 2012: Unsigned.

Koby Clemens - Infielder

  • Clemens 2011 Stats with OKC: 126 G, .234, 16 HR, 55 RBI. Team’s leading HR hitter, son of Roger and Debbie, relegated to bench in August after demotion of Brett Wallace (1B) and Chris Johnson (3B) from Houston; 
  • Clemens in 2012: Signed to Minor League deal with Toronto Blue Jays, no reports of a camp invite. Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s, visit OKC May 8-11.

Anderson Hernandez - Infielder

  • Hernandez 2011 Stats with OKC: 136G, .300, 6 HR, 52 RBI. Hit safely in 30 consecutive games from August 2 through September 2, the eighth-longest hitting streak in PCL history, did not get a September call to Houston;
  • Hernandez in 2012: Signed to Minor League deal by Pittsburgh Pirates with invite to Spring Training. Should compete for back-up infield job in Pittsburgh. If he does not make the roster, the Pirates Triple-A affiliate is Indianapolis in the International League.

Drew Locke - Outfielder

  • Locke 2011 Stats with OKC: 125 G, .264, 11 HR, 58 RBI. Had a huge series August 7-10 at Tucson, going 8×17 with 3 HR and 14 RBI. That includes an 0x3 final game of the series on Aug. 10;
  • Locke in 2012: Signed by Sugarland Skeeters of Independent Atlantic League.

Ryan Rowland-Smith - Pitcher

  • Rowland-Smith 2011 Stats with OKC: 22G, 19GS, 2-10, 6.19 ERA, 41 BB, 87 SO. The Australian toiled all year and missed all of July with a busted index finger…crikey;
  • Rowland-Smith in 2012: Signed to Minor League deal by Chicago Cubs, no reports of a camp invite. Worked with new (and secret) pitching instructor in offseason, while continuing mixed martial arts training. Chicago’s Triple-A affiliate, the Iowa Cubs, visit OKC June 2-5 and July 24-27.

Andy Van Hekken - Pitcher

  • Van Hekken 2011 Stats with OKC: 35G, 19GS, 9-6, 3.40 ERA, finished 2nd in ERA in the PCL, pitched for Team USA in the Pan Am Games;
  • Van Hekken in 2012: signed with Nexen Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization. The Heroes do not visit RedHawks Field at Bricktown in 2012.

Job Fair Success

The Oklahoma City RedHawks seasonal job fair was a tremendous success, as dozens of candidates applied and interviewed for concessions and gameday customer service positions for the 2012 season over four days. The final days were this past Friday and Saturday.

Channel 4 visited RedHawks Field at Bricktown on Friday, with Ali Meyer giving an inside look at the process: http://www.kfor.com/videobeta/?watchId=659fc65f-644b-4c4d-8fd3-f26248994a8d.

If still interested in any future gameday positions, contact the RedHawks front office at (405) 218-1000 or email info@okcredhawks.com.

OKC Championships

In digging through boxes and filing cabinets of old team photographs over the weekend for other projects, I came across this gem from the 1992 American Association Championship:

Oklahoma City 89ers Manager Tommy Thompson, 89ers Owner Jeffrey Loria and American Association President Branch B. Rickey after the 89ers swept the Buffalo Bisons in four games for the 1992 American Association Championship. This was the scene in the visiting clubhouse in Buffalo, N.Y. Thompson was most recently a scout in the Miami Marlins organization, Loria is now owner of the Miami Marlins, and Rickey is President of the Pacific Coast League.

Teams can have winning seasons and win divisions and have a great season, but, fair or not, in sport we measure true success in trophies and rings.

The Oklahoma City Triple-A franchise has four league championships, all as the Oklahoma City 89ers:

  • 1996 – American Association (Rangers)
  • 1992 – American Association (Rangers)
  • 1965 – Pacific Coast League (Astros)
  • 1963 – Pacific Coast League (Colt 45s)

That’s four league championships in 50 seasons of Triple-A baseball in Oklahoma City. For perspective, in the last decade Sacramento won four Pacific Coast League titles in a six year span (2003-04, 2007-08).

The last time Oklahoma City celebrated a league title, in September of 1996, I had hair to my shoulders and was entering the ninth grade. As we enter 2012, I am 30 years old and losing hairline by the minute.

Always remember, as much as we want to win and dominate here in OKC, we are all here to develop players for the Houston Astros in order to help them win the National League Central, the National League and the World Series. For 28 years, it was the same goal for the Texas Rangers, the previous organization here. This is why the Minor League farm systems were invented, to create depth for Major League clubs.

Winning, while still important in the Minors, can sometimes seem secondary due to needs from higher levels. The other argument is that winning in the Minor Leagues breeds winning in the Major Leagues. Different organizations have different philosophies on this subject.

That being said, there is nothing like being a part of a championship team at any level of any sport. That includes broadcasters, front office employees and fans. The Astros are working hard to send a winning team here and have proven it by replenishing the Minor League system with young talent. It just takes time and experience for that young talent to make the Triple-A level and perform.

A wise and important man once said that “patience is a necessary ingredient of genius.” If that’s the case, Oklahoma City baseball fans are Minor League Baseball’s Einsteins.

OKC has seen great playoff teams, but since ’96 each season has ended in bitter defeat. My hat is off to you all for enduring this stretch.

Actually, I’ll put the hat back on since I’m still losing hairline…

Have a great week.

1 Comment

Reblogged this on The AustralianBaseballDigest and commented:
Ryan Rowland-Smith has a new and [secret] pitching coach says this writer.

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