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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | PRO BASEBALL

Major Moves Made by Few Area Players in the Minors

September 03, 2000|DAVE DESMOND

From the rapid rises of Jon Garland and Barry Zito to the megabucks signing of Joe Borchard and the non-signing of Matt Harrington, it's been an eventful summer involving minor league players from the region.

With the final weekend of the minor leagues' regular season upon us, we take a look back at some of the noteworthy happenings and hand out our annual awards.

Worst start: Eric Cole of Antelope Valley High and Antelope Valley College.

During spring training, Cole and several other Houston Astro farmhands were held at gunpoint in their hotel and robbed.

Sandy Koufax Big Hitter Award: Javier Delahoya of Grant High.

Delahoya, of Baltimore Oriole affiliate Rochester, was selected the most valuable pitcher in a triple-A all-star game.

He received the Lou Gehrig pitcher of the game award. Gehrig was a first baseman.

Please Pass the Chips: Jack Wilson of Thousand Oaks High.

Wilson, then a member of the St. Louis Cardinal organization, received a huge, silver-plated trophy depicting a Mexican Indian after being chosen the top player in an all-star game between the double-A Texas League and the Mexican League.

"All the MVP stuff is written in Spanish that I don't understand," he said. "As far as anyone will know, it could be a dip holder."

Most Upwardly Mobile (minor league): Borchard of Camarillo High and former Lancaster JetHawk Willie Bloomquist.

Borchard, the 12th overall selection in the draft by the Chicago White Sox in June, didn't sign until late in July, but jumped from the rookie Arizona League to Class-A Winston-Salem to double-A Birmingham during a three-week span in August.

Bloomquist, an all-star infielder during the first half for the Class-A JetHawks, skipped over double-A and went to the Seattle Mariners' triple-A affiliate in Tacoma.

Most Upwardly Mobile (major league): Garland and Zito.

At 20, Garland of Kennedy High became the youngest pitcher in the majors when he was called up to the White Sox in July.

Zito, a left-hander from Pierce College, made his debut with the Oakland Athletics soon after, a year after signing as a first-round pick out of USC.

Most Immobile: Pitcher Harrington of Palmdale High.

After almost three months of negotiations, the seventh overall pick in the June draft has yet to agree to terms with the Colorado Rockies.

Good News, Bad News Award: Garland and Zito.

Both were considered shoo-ins for the U.S. Olympic team. Their big-league promotions made them ineligible.

Does Anyone Else Pitch Around Here?: Rob Crabtree of Cal State Northridge.

The triple-A reliever for the San Francisco Giants set a Fresno team record when he appeared in his 58th game last week. He entered the weekend with 61 appearances.

Does Anyone Relieve Around Here?: Brandon Knight of Buena High and Ventura College.

A triple-A pitcher for Columbus in the New York Yankee chain, he leads minor league baseball with eight complete games.

Parental Guidance: Manager Mark Parent of the JetHawks.

In his first season, Parent turned around a team that had one of the minors' worst records in 1999.

Despite a rash of injuries, the JetHawks have one of the top winning percentages in the minors, clinched the first- and second-half titles in the California League's South Division and will begin postseason play on Friday.

Don't Unpack Award: Jon Schaeffer of Harvard-Westlake.

The catcher began the season with New Britain, the Minnesota Twins' double-A affiliate. He was sent to Class-A Fort Myers, then back to New Britain.

Two weeks later, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics assigned to double-A Midland, demoted to Class-A Modesto and, on Thursday, returned to Midland.

If You Build It, They Will Come, Eventually: Bryan Corey of Thousand Oaks High and Pierce, and Zito.

Because construction of their new stadium was behind schedule, Corey, Zito and the rest of the triple-A Sacramento Rivercats began the season with a 37-game, 40-day road trip.

There is No Joy in . . . Port Hueneme?: Unhappy with their stadium deal in Stockton, the Mudville Nine and General Manager Kevin O'Malley, a Harvard-Westlake graduate, proposed a move to Ventura County.

Best Debut: Keith McDonald of Pepperdine.

The catcher became only the second player in major league history to homer in his first two major league at-bats in July for the St. Louis Cardinals.

McDonald, with 27 home runs in seven minor league seasons, drew comparisons to Mark McGwire in the St. Louis media.

Prettiest Toenails: McDonald.

Continuing a practice he began at Pepperdine, he paints his toenails with florescent polish.

"I guess I'm a colorful character," he said.

Lancaster Blaster: Juan Silvestre of the JetHawks.

He entered this weekend leading professional baseball with 133 RBIs and was tied for the California League lead with 29 home runs.

Nowhere to Pass the Hat: Victor Hall of Monroe.

Hall, an outfielder in the Arizona Diamondback organization and all 23 of his teammates on the short-season Missoula Osprey were fined and suspended for their part in a brawl with Medicine Hat.

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