Your favorite Tri-City ValleyCats, Albany-Colonie Yankees, Albany-Colonie A’s, who came through here. Your favorite locals on their way to and in the bigs who grew up here. If you’re wondering where they’ll start in baseball in 2011, well it’s all here!
Buck Showalter- Manager: Baltimore Orioles. In 1989 Buck Showalter led the Albany-Colonie Yankees to a record of 92-48 and an Eastern League title. Since that time, Showalter has been instrumental in building two World Series winners in New York and Arizona. Buck has two Manager of the Year awards on his ledger and is now attempting to change the culture in Baltimore with the Orioles. Taking over the O’s late last season, Showalter guided the squad to a mark of 34-23. Buck has an overall record of 916-856 for a .517 winning percentage.
Dan Radison- First Base Coach: Washington Nationals. Dan Radison skippered the Albany-Colonie Yankees in parts of three seasons from 1990-1992. During that time Radison went 226-192 and in 1991 guided the AC Yanks to an Eastern League Championship. Since that time Radison has had coaching stints with the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres and is currently serving as the Washington Nationals first base coach.
Hensley Meulens- Hitting Coach: San Francisco Giants. Hensley “Bam-Bam” Meulens played third base for Albany in 1988 and 1989. During his time with the AC Yanks, Meulens belted 24 home runs. In his entire career spread out between New York, Montreal and Arizona, Meulens hit 15 from 1989-1998. Last year Meulens served in his current role as hitting coach for the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants.
Roberto Kelly- First Base Coach: San Francisco Giants. Roberto Kelly played in Albany back in 1986. During that season, Kelly hit .291. Most folks remember Roberto as the guy the Yankees robbed the Reds for to get Paul O’Neill (and Joe DeBerry). What a lot of people don’t remember is Kelly was a darn good player in his own right and a young bright spot for the Yanks before they took off in the early 90’s. Kelly made two All-Star teams, was a career .290 hitter with 124 home runs, 235 steals and 1,390 hits. Playing from 1987-2000, Kelly bounced around on seven other teams before finishing up with the Yanks. Last year Kelly served in his current role as first base coach for the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants.
J.T. Snow- Special Assistant: San Francisco Giants. J.T. Snow starred for the 1991 AC Yanks, batting .279 with 13 home runs and 76 RBI. After a short stint up in New York, Snow the slick fielding first baseman really took off in California and San Francisco. Snow won gold gloves six years in a row between the AL and NL from 1995-2000, clubbed 189 career homers and totaled 1,509 hits. A career .327 post-season hitter, Snow hit an impressive .407 in the 2002 World Series for the Giants against the Angels. Snow currently serves as a Special Assistant in the San Francisco organization.
Rob Thomson- Third Base Coach: New York Yankees. Thomson coached with the 1992 AC Yanks. He has served as the Yankees third base coach under Joe Girardi since 2008.
Brian Butterfield- Third Base Coach: Toronto Blue Jays. Butterfield was a coach on the 1993 AC Yanks before moving up with the big club in New York during the 1994 and 1995 campaigns. Butterfield followed Buck Showalter out to Arizona and eventually came back to the Yankees organization in 2001. Since 2002 Butterfield has served as either a third base or bench coach with Toronto.
Brad Arnsberg- Pitching Coach: Houston Astros. In 1985 with Albany, Arnsberg went a spectacular 14-2 with a 1.59 ERA. Arnsberg’s major league career never came close to touching that as he finished with an overall mark of 9-6. Arnsberg had primarily been pitching coach with the Toronto Blue Jays in the past and will now be serving in that same role on Brad Mills’ staff in Houston.
Tim Belcher- Pitching Coach: Cleveland Indians. In ten starts with the Albany-Colonie A’s in 1984, Belcher went 3-4 with an ERA of 3.33. Belcher did manage to carve out a pretty steady major league career, winning 146 games over 14 seasons. As an aside, my first game at Yankee Stadium in 1996 on Old Timers Day, Belcher was the starter for the Kansas City Royals, a year in which he would tie a career high for wins with 15. Belcher also won a World Series while pitching for the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers, going 3-0 in the post-season that year. Tim Belcher retired after the 2000 season with Anaheim and he now serves as the Cleveland Indians pitching coach.
Bob Geren- Manager: Oakland Athletics. Bob Geren was a catcher for the AC Yanks during the 1986 and 1987 seasons and in 1987 he clocked eleven home runs. Geren caught parts of four seasons in the Bronx from 1988-1991 and finished out with the Padres in 1993. Originally drafted by San Diego, Geren was involved in a trade which sent him to the St. Louis Cardinals for the father of current Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher, Steve Swisher. Since 2007, Geren has skippered the A’s with an overall record of 307-340. However last season was the A’s best record (81-81) and finish (second) under Geren and there are high expectations for Oakland to be a dark horse candidate in 2011.
Mike Gallego- Third Base Coach: Oakland Athletics. Aiding Geren is third base coach Mike Gallego. Yankees fans may know him as the guy who not only played short but also as who was the last guy to wear number two before Derek Jeter. Gallego played in 90 games for the Albany A’s in 1983. Gallego was solid and versatile defensively and was a member of the 1989 World Championship team in Oakland. In addition, Gallego was on of the guys credited with helping change the culture in New York and he batted a career high .283 in 1993. Gallego went back to Oakland in 1995 and followed skipper Tony LaRussa to St. Louis before retiring after the 1997 campaign. Before last year Mike Gallego had been coaching third base with the Colorado Rockies and he now does so for the Oakland A’s.
Fredi Gonzalez- Manager: Atlanta Braves. Fredi Gonzalez spent parts of two seasons as a catcher for Albany in 1986 and 1987. Gonzalez is regarded as top young manager’s on the rise and will succeed Bobby Cox this season. In three plus year’s with the Florida Marlins before a spat with star short stop Hanley Ramirez, Gonzalez compiled a record of 276-279.
Randy St. Claire- Pitching Coach: Florida Marlins. After spending parts of nine seasons in Montreal, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Atlanta and Toronto and going 12-6, St. Claire the Glens Falls native has served as pitching coach for the Montreal Expos and Washington Nationals. This season St. Claire will serve in that role for the Florida Marlins on the staff of Edwin Gonzalez.
Andy Fox- Minor League Infield Coordinator: Boston Red Sox. Andy Fox played for the AC Yanks during the 1993 and 1994 campaigns. Fox was part of the 1996 World Champion New York Yankees and also played in the majors with Arizona, Florida, Montreal and Texas.
Derek Jeter- Short Stop: New York Yankees. In 34 games during the 1994 campaign, Derek hit a robust .377 at Albany. From that point on Jeter has been on the fast track to the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The Captain, Mr. November, has five World Series rings, is the New York Yankees all-time leader in hits and is only 74 away from 3,000. Jeter is a career .314 hitter, an eleven time All-Star and continues to rise in the Yankees record books. In addition, Jeter won the 1996 Rookie of the Year award, and was MVP of the 2000 All-Star Game and World Series.
Mariano Rivera- Closer: New York Yankees. When Mariano Rivera made nine starts for the Albany-Colonie Yankees in 1994, the line was impressive. Rivera went 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA and even a ten-year-old kid like yours truly could tell Mariano might have a nice major league career. But best closer ever? For those of you kids out there who know nothing but Mo closing for the Yanks, in 1994 the New York closer was Steve Howe. Mariano has 559 career saves and barring injury should end up with the most in MLB history. Most impressive of all are Mo’s post-season accolades. In 94 games totaling 139.2 innings, Rivera has a record of 8-1 with a 0.71 ERA and 42 saves. Rivera is also a member of the five rings club, an eleven time All-Star and winner of the 1999 World Series MVP and 2003 ALCS MVP. Mariano Rivera is obviously Cooperstown bound.
Jorge Posada- Catcher/DH: New York Yankees. During the 1993 season, Posada spent just seven games at Albany-Colonie and hit .280 in that span. Since then Jorge has become an integral part of five World Championships in the Bronx. Posada continues to climb up the Yankees record books with 261 home runs, including the first one ever at the “New House” in 2009 against Cleveland. Jorge is also a five time All-Star and owner of five silver sluggers. One really has to take a good hard look at Jorge Posada when it comes to Cooperstown consideration.
Hunter Pence- Right Field: Houston Astros. By far the most successful player to star for the Tri-City ValleyCats in the major leagues. Aside from Bernie Williams, perhaps the best hitting outfielder to have played in this area period. Pence played 51 games in Troy in 2004, on a ValleyCats team that reached the New York Penn League Championship. That season Pence batted .296 with eight home runs and 37 RBI. Hunter has been a standout model of consistency ever since for the Houston Astros. Since getting called up in 2007 and finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting in the NL, Hunter has hit 92 home runs, driven in 315 with a career high 91 last year. A 2009 NL All-Star for Houston, Pence has hit 25 home runs each of the last three seasons.
Ben Zobrist- Right Field: Tampa Bay Rays. Another member of that vaunted 2004 Tri-City ValleyCats club was then short stop Ben Zobrist. During that special season Zobrist hit a robust .339 in 68 games with 87 hits, four home runs, 45 RBI and 15 stolen bases. In 2006 Ben was dealt to Tampa for Aubrey Huff. Since his debut for the then Devil Rays in 2006, Zobrist became the first former ValleyCats player to appear in a World Series in 2008, was an AL All-Star like his buddy and former teammate from 2004 Hunter Pence in 2009. In that 2009 All-Star campaign, Zobrist batted .297 with a career high 27 home runs, 91 RBI, 91 runs scored and finished eighth in AL MVP voting. While his numbers dipped a bit in 2010, the Rays “everywhere man” rebounded to hit .300 with a homer and two RBI against the Texas Rangers in the ALDS.
Matt Albers- Relief Pitcher: Boston Red Sox. Matt Albers had quite an impressive summer pitching for the ValleyCats in 2003. Albers went 5-4 with a 2.92 ERA and 94 K’s in 86.1 innings of work. Matt made his debut with the Houston Astros in 2006 and was shipped to the Baltimore Orioles for Miguel Tejada after the 2007 campaign. Albers carved out a nice niche in the O’s bullpen and went 5-3 with a 4.52 ERA in 62 contests in 2010. That was obviously impressive enough to warrant the Boston Red Sox adding him to the mix in their pen for 2011.
Mark McLemore- Pitcher: Florida Marlins (New Orleans Zephyrs). Mark McLemore was a member of the inaugural ValleyCats squad of 2002. In 2007 with the Astros, McLemore was an impressive 3-0 out of the pen with a 3.86 ERA and 35 K’s in 35 IP. McLemore was in Independent ball in 2010 and is slated to start the season at Triple-A New Orleans in the Marlins system.
Troy Patton- Pitcher: Baltimore Orioles. Patton was a member of the 2005 ValleyCats. In 2007 Patton got into three games with the Astros and last year saw one game with the Orioles.
Felipe Paulino- Pitcher: Colorado Rockies. Felipe had a solid season for Tri-City in 2005, going 2-2 with a 3.82 ERA and 34 K’s in 30.2 IP. Paulino made his debut with Houston in 2007 and in three seasons with the Astros, registered 187 K’s in 208.1 IP. Paulino was dealt to the Rockies for Clint Barmes in the off-season.
Drew Sutton- Short Stop: Boston Red Sox Organization. Sutton was another key player on that 2004 ValleyCats roster. In 63 games Sutton batted .280 for Tri-City, forming the other half of their DP combo at second base. Drew made his MLB debut with the Cincinnati Reds in 2009 and last year split time between the Reds and Cleveland Indians. In the off-season Drew signed on with the Red Sox and will likely begin the year in Triple-A Pawtucket.
Bud Norris- Starting Pitcher: Houston Astros. A key contributor to the ValleyCats 2006 runner up team, Bud Norris in 15 games went 2-0 with an ERA of 3.79 with 46 K’s in 38 innings. Norris now takes a regular turn in the Astros starting rotation, slotted behind Brett Myers, J.A. Happ and Wandy Rodriguez. Since making his MLB debut for Houston in 2009, Norris has a respectable mark of 15-13 with an ERA of 4.82. Norris is in the process of harnessing his stuff, which has yielded 212 K’s in 209.1 IP in two seasons.
Tommy Manzella- Short Stop: Houston Astros. Tommy Manzella was a member of the 2005 ValleyCats and played in 53 games that season at short stop. After making his MLB debut in 2009, Manzella was more or less Houston’s regular short stop for the 2010 campaign. While not the biggest bat, Manzella gave the Astros steady play in the field in 2010. Tommy will likely begin the year at Triple-A.
Chris Johnson- Third Base: Houston Astros. Another member of that vaunted 2006 Tri-City squad, Johnson has really started to blossom offensively on a Houston club that desperately needs it. After debuting in 2009, Johnson hit a solid .308 in 94 games with the big club, while homering eleven times and knocking in 52.
Jason Castro- Catcher: Houston Astros. Since starting out with the ValleyCats in 2008, Jason Castro has made a meteoric rise through the Astros system. After batting .275 in 39 games with the Cats behind the plate, Castro found himself in the Houston lineup 67 games in 2010. Unfortunately due to an injury to his right knee in Spring Training, Jason is expected to have surgery and miss the entire 2011 season.
Fernando Abad- Pitcher: Houston Astros. Fernando pitched in a couple of games in Troy during the 2007 season. Making his MLB debut with Houston in 2010, Abad put up som filthy numbers. In 22 games Abad registered an ERA of 2.84 in 19 innings of work.
Brian Bogusevic- Outfielder: Houston Astros Organization. Bogusevic played in 13 games for the ValleyCats in 2005. Bogusevic made his Houston debut last season and is slated to begin 2011 at Triple-A.
Tim Stauffer- Starting Pitcher: San Diego Padres. Since making his MLB debut for the San Diego Padres in 2005, Saratoga Central Catholic standout Tim Stauffer has shown some sparks of brilliance on the mound. After fighting through the numbers game, injuries and some hard luck, Stauffer followed up a solid 2009 season with a superb 2010 output. Over a stretch of 32 games, including seven starts, Stauffer put up a sparkling 1.85 ERA for San Diego with a record of 6-5 in 82.2 innings of work. Stauffer obviously caught the eye of Manager Bud Black during that 90 win season of 2010, because with Mat Latos starting the year on the DL, Tim Stauffer will start Opening Day for San Diego.
Brendan Harris- Infielder: Baltimore Orioles (Norfolk Tides). After making his MLB debut in 2004, it appeared as though Queensbury, NY native Brendan Harris had finally carved out a nice niche for himself as a useful role player at the major league level. The best season to date for the career .260 hitter came in 2007 with the Rays where Harris set career highs for runs, hits, doubles, homers, RBI and average. Harris had actually been a fairly regular part of the Twins lineup in Minnesota up until last year when he was sent down to Triple-A Rochester to finish out the season. Harris tried to hook on with Baltimore this year, but with new acquisitions Mark Reynolds, J.J. Hardy, Derrek Lee and mainstay Brian Roberts, the O’s infield looks hard to crack. Thus Harris will begin the year at Triple-A Norfolk.
Casper Wells- Outfielder: Detroit Tigers. Some may refer to Detroit as a ghost town, but with Casper Wells on the rise that phrase may well come with a positive connotation soon enough. Wells, the Schenectady, NY native and Schenectady High School grad made a solid enough impression in 2010 to make the 2011 Tigers squad out of camp. In his 2010 Detroit debut, Wells batted a robust .323 in 36 contests, hit four homers and drove in 17. The Tigers have Austin Jackson and Ryan Rayburn seemingly cemented in left and center though with an injury prone and aging Magglio Ordonez in right and Johnny Damon now in Tampa, Wells will likely battle for at-bats with Brennan Boesch.
John Lannan- Starting Pitcher: Washington Nationals. Finally, while Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman may get the ink in D.C., the Siena College grad Lannan has been a steady influence on the Nats starting rotation. Lannan has been durable to say the least for an awful team in Washington. Upon making his debut in 2007, Lannan in 95 starts has logged 566.1 innings with a record of 28-38 and an ERA of 4.10.