Wednesday, June 18, 2003
As promised, I am going to list the best players that I have ever played baseball with. I will just start with high school ball. Here is a breakdown of the teams I played for, and which years:
|1990-1993||Perham High School /Perham American Legion|
Corliss Wildcats (Countryside League - Amateur/Town Ball - state
Perham Pirates (Hi-10 League - Amateur/Town Ball - state
|1994-1995||Concordia College (MIAC - Division III)|
As I mentioned, the premise for this article was hearing John Gordon and Paul Molitor talking about some of the best Minnesota high school. I donít know if this was a story in a newspaper or if they were just talking about it. The players they talked about included Tom Nevers, Joe Mauer, Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield and others. Including Perham High Schoolís Charlie Nelson. He graduated from high school in 1990, and I am fortunate to be able to say I played a full year of baseball with him on a very strong, senior-laden varsity squad. I was just a freshman starting with 8 seniors, and they actually treated me really well!
As that season was finishing up, I began playing amateur baseball for the Corliss Wildcats. We played in a cornfield, very similar to that in Field of Dreams. Except, not that nice. But, that was when playing baseball was fun. That lasted for not even a year. Then I began to see the ugly side of amateur baseball, namely, everyone thinking that I should have been playing somewhere else. Until, I had to leave the Corliss team, where baseball was fun, and sign with the Perham Pirates. It had its moments, but believe me, Iíve got enough issues with how that is set up that I wonít get into them in this space.
I went to Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, a Division III school in the Minnesota Inter-Collegiate Athletic Association (MIAC). One of the big reasons I went there was because of the schoolís baseball tradition. (and their academic tradition!!!) I watched them play one time in my senior year and saw them taking good solid swings at the plate. I loved watching their aggressive style. I had also gone to some Gophers games, and watched every batter seemingly take 2 strikes each at bat and didnít like that. I went there thinking I was pretty good. You quickly find out that even at Division III schools, there are some unbelievable players. Players that for some reason or other didnít receive attention from Division I or pro scouts. Youíll see a number of players from there on this list. I just played two years, but my second year, we went to the Regional Tournament in Oshkosh, WI
So, thereís the background, here are the Players that I think are the best players Iíve played with, by position:
I couldnít pick between my Perham High School coach Howie Kangas and long-time Concordia baseball coach Bucky Burgau. Both are so knowledgeable of the intricacies of the game that make baseball so great. I learned a lot from both of them!
Position Players -
LF - Mike Brasel - Perham High School í93 - Played 2+ years of Varsity baseball. Caught everything in the outfield with a quick jump on every fly ball. A great leadoff hitter who could drive the ball some, and bunt for hits. Hit over .400 his senior year.
CF - Charlie Nelson - Perham High School í90 - 4+ years of Varsity baseball. Unbelievable all-around athlete. Starred in football, basketball and track. Great arm in CF. Caught everything. Very strong bat who hit everything hard. Never got caught trying to steal bases (literally). Signed and started for 4 years at the University of Minnesota where he was All-Conference and his name is found throughout the Gophers Baseball Record Book -
RF - Chad Griffin - Perham Pirates - Hit the ball hard all over the field. Some power, had some speed. Not a natural outfielder. He was actually a 3-year starting catcher at St. Cloud St., and had an absolute cannon for an arm! Heíll be seen later in this article.
4th Outfielder - Cory Brasel - Played some Legion ball with him - Mikeís younger brother. Best defensive outfielder that I have ever played ball with. Got great jumps and just outran baseballs. He was good for at least one diving catch per game! Can also bunt well.
1B - Jeremy Kovash - Concordia - Check out the stats from his senior season at Concordia (.336/.445/.477, for a 932 OPS!). A solid defensive first baseman as well. May have the sweetest swing still of anyone on this list.
2nd 1B - Rob Hendrickson - Perham High School í94 - Best defensive first baseman Iíve ever been on the same team as. He also played for the Perham Pirates for a year but didnít play a lot because someone who was not even in the same caliber as Rob was playing 1B. (but I wonít get into that topic either!)
2B - Marc Winjum - Best defensive second baseman I played with. There may be some argument from those who saw Jeremy Holm play too, but to me, Marc Winjum was the best I ever was on the same team with. He was the freshman that got called up when I was a senior in high school. Tough player. Not big, but had a quick, powerful bat. Also played for the Perham Pirates for a few years. He was from Perham, so you can imagine how well that went at times (but I wonít get into that!)
SS - Scott DeBrito - Concordia - The Fergus Falls native came to Concordia his sophomore season and played SS the next three years, putting up very strong offensive numbers. If there is one guy that I donít understand why he wasnít drafted, it would be DeBrito. Could hit, hit with power, play solid SS defense, strong arm, and decent speed.
3B - Chris Coste - Concordia - Besides the fact that I wasnít that good, Chris Coste is the biggest reason I didnít play much in college. The three-time All-American was, by far, the best baseball player I have ever seen. He was a great defensive third baseman! Great arm! Could hit any pitcher (in Oshkosh, he was 2-3 with a walk and a home run off of Anaheim Angels Jarrod Washburn). There was nothing he couldnít do. In his 3 years at Concordia, his career hitting numbers were (.442/.502/.725, with 19 homers 44/17 BB/K rate) great, but factor in his 21-5 record with 7 saves and an ERA of 2.11. Since that time, he learned another new position. For the FM Redhawks, Coste became a catcher and became one of the best players in Independent baseball. That got him a few big league tryouts before the Cleveland Indian Organization gave him a shot. After a year at AA, he played two solid years at AAA Buffalo. He caught some, DHíd, played 1B, 3B, and even some in the OF. This offseason, he signed with the Boston Red Sox and was one of the last players sent back to AAA to begin the season. He was hurt in the 2nd game of the season and hasnít played since. Having spent a lot of time at 3B taking ground balls with him before the game, he was great to talk to and learn from. His career minor league numbers warrant consideration for a callup! If there was ever any one person Iíd like to see get a shot in the major leagues, it is Chris Coste. Oh, and heís written two books very worth reading. They are: Hey, Iím Just the Catcher and Roller Coster which should be coming out very soon. Check them both out here.
Catcher - Ron Litzau - Concordia - One of the smartest baseball players Iíve ever played with (and saying that in the above group really is saying something). Ran the show behind the plate. Great pitch caller. Blocked everything. Very quick release and time to 2B so threw out a high percentage of would-be base stealers. All-around great guy. Knew what to say to make everyone on the team feel important. Oh yeah, check out his senior year stats, he could/can hit too!
Backup Catcher - Jeremy Morgenroth - Perham Pirates - Stronger arm, and maybe even a better blocker than Litzau, Morgy could play ball. His strength also made him a good hitter with some power. Played 2 years with him with the Pirates. Of course, he left the Pirates for a year in there because (oh yeah, not going to get into that!).
Pitching Staff -
#1 - Chad Griffin - Perham Pirates - As I mentioned above, he was a catcher at St. Cloud St. When he played amateur ball, he pitched. Actually, at first he threw, but by í95, he threw almost 90 mph, with a great change up and control of the curve ball too. He could absolutely dominate a game. In the í96 Amateur State Tournament, he led us to the final 8, winning 2 games and keeping us even in the 3rd game.
#2 - Chris Coste - Concordia - See above pitching stats -
#3 - Greg Salvevold - Concordia - Great moving fastball, great slider/curveball, and pretty good control. Oh, and heíll hit for himself too. He played CF and was all-conference as a sophomore, hitting .362. Signed with the Devil Rays organization after his junior season, and has been pitching in the FM Redhawks organization since 1997.
#4 - Jim McCormick - Concordia - He would be a perfect example of what scouts would classify as too small to be a solid pitcher. However, McCormick could hit spots with such precision. Wherever the glove was put, McCormick put in there. His 1995 (sophomore) season was amazing. He actually started out with the JV, but ended up with a 4-1, 1.32 ERA and was getting the tough matchups. Arm problems troubled him after that season, but his performance that year was Greg Maddux-esque.
#5 - Joe Cuchna - Concordia - I actually played against him in amateur ball for a number of years. He was the starting shortstop at Concordia his freshman year, but became basically a full-time pitcher there. He had a very solid pitching line there. But, he makes this team because he can also be the backup at the 3 infield positions because he can hit too!
Relief Pitcher -
Stuart Lang - Concordia - When he became a submarining pitcher for the Cobbers, he became great. In í95, he went 7-0 with a 2.79 ERA. In í96, he recorded 8 saves.
ďUtility PlayerĒ -
Justin Stohs - OK, heís my brother, but thatís OK. I played high school, legion, and Perham Pirates ball with him. His time at Concordia started after I was done. I could put him other places on this list, but this makes the most sense since he has played 3B, 1B, Catcher, LF and RF, and made his mark at Concordia as another submarining relief pitcher who tied Stu Lang in appearances in a season at Concordia with 20. He was already a pretty solid fastball/curveball pitcher from overhand, but the transition to submarine made him even better. He fortunately has since moved on from the Perham Pirates, which is the best thing he could have done (but I wonít get into that!).
So, there it is. The list of the best players I have ever been on the same team as. Would I make this team? I doubt it. Maybe as a backup backup! I could pitch Tony Fiore-like innings! But, I wasnít that bad.
Twins Thoughts -
I donít even want to discuss tonightís game! They got crushed. That 12 run 6th for the Royals was just strange! JC Romero got tossed for hitting someone with a slow curveball.
But, the one question I do want to find out is: Has Justin Morneauís home run ball landed yet????? And, as I mentioned yesterday, wasnít Morneau brought up to PLAY!??
Have a great Wednesday!
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