Poughkeepsie Journal from Poughkeepsie, New York on June 25, 1989 · Page 4D
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Poughkeepsie Journal from Poughkeepsie, New York · Page 4D

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Sunday, June 25, 1989
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r I . jy 4D - irPpughkqfeps1o Journal Sunday. Juno 25. 1989 The to Majors Local stars battle to .ijt' .J,, - rl". ', escape 'no - mans land' By Rich ThomasclH Joei - Mltutf Joe Kesselmark, Joe Bruno and Dee Dixon always knew the road to the Major Leagues would be paved with potholes and detours. They never thought they'd, be in "no - man's land", however. The trio of area minor league baseball : players .are currently plying their trade on :the Double A level. While each one Is having :a different type of season so far, air three. : share a common bond the dream of mak - " ing It to 'The Show' and the reality of the hard work, politics, and lucky breaks it takes : to get there. Kesselmark, a Poughkeepsie native who : graduated from Our Lady of Lourdes High : School, is hitting the ball as well aThe ever : has,, he said. Yet Kesselmark, an outfielder : for the San Antonio Missions in the Los An - :geles Dodgers organization, is batting just .' .231 with 12 RBIs in 69 games. "I've got to prove I can do it here," he : said. "In another month, they won't remem - : ber that I've been hitting the ball hard. : They'll just look at the average." , Staatsburg resident Bruno, who came but of Roosevelt High School, is having an .outstanding season. The right - hander is cur rently pitching for the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Double A farm team for the Cincinnati Reds. A relief specialist, 'Bruno recently gained the win in the Double A All' Star Game against the Toronto Blue Jays. "I know there's a lot of pitching in the organization," said Bruno, "but I'd Just like to see them give one of us down here a chance.'' Dixon, the speedster from Poughkeepsie, is having a - season that is best "described as frustrating. After swiping 72 bases last year for the Double' A Shreveport Captains a figure that led the entire San Francisco Giants organization the outfielder figured he'd get the call to go to Phoenix, the Giants' Triple A team. Instead, he is currently being platooned in Shreveport "Right now, this is a crucial 'point in my life," says Dixon. "I'm 25 and things have to start happening." What Kesselmark, Bruno and Dixon are going through is not uncommon to minor league players. Dave Horton, a former minor league infielder with the St. Louis Cardinals organization and the brother of Dodgers pitcher Rick Horton, coined the term "no - man's land." Double A baseball is the middle of the ladder, says Dave Horton, a Roosevelt graduate. Matt Michael, a Dutchess Community College graduate, is pitching this season Tor the Peninsula Pilots; a Single A team for the Yankees'. Another DCC grad, Frank Cinu relli, has just reported to Rookie ball in Johnson Cityt - Tenn., for the Cardinals. Those levels of baseball are past history for Kesselmark,' Bruno and Dixon. They've, struggled and made.it past Rookie ball and Single A but still see Triple A and the Major Leagues ahead of them. "I think it's one of those things where they feel it's a make or break year," said. Horton. "They're in no man's land now. They're ih currently 9 - 2. well but thQ timing hasn't been there. vit "Theway thejOook at it is this," added Horton. "Tie people with more money involved in them get more of alliance to screw up. They get mote of a chance to do worse," Pete Wyso agreed. Wyso, a Wappingers Falls resident, spent 10 years in the minor leagues with four different organizations. He was also a pitching coach in the Baltimore ' Orioles chain ior two years and worked, wlth - Jeff Ballard, th Orioles right - hander who is Double A and it's kind of hard to walk away. They're almost at that point of making it It'd be very, very difficult to give it up now." Horton, who retired while still at the Single A level, said there are many factors involved in a player advancing through the ' system ability, how a player at the next level is doing, a little politics, a little luck, and money. Yes, money. "What's going on right now with the big club is important E9uy move they make. has an effect on down the line," said Horton. "But a lot of it comes down to who they have the money involved in. Joe (Bruno) signed as a free agent and he's damn glad to be there. But if (Cincinnati) has $100,000 invested in another guy, they're gonna bring him up even if 'Joe's stats are a little better.Joe has done "How much you signed for, that's the key," jsays Wyso. "If you get anything over $15,000, you're guaranteed a shot (at the Majors). You get $40,000 and up, well, unless you die, you should be in the big leagues, for at least a year." Money is 'also the common denominator when players talk politics. Not GOP and the Democrats, mind you, but the politics that come into play in moving up. Or down. The Dodgers, "for instance, just signed three former Major League players, assigning twofo their Triple A team in Albuquerque and the other to San Antonio. , "Those are political moves usually based on the fact that the franchise wants to win," said Wyso. "Within the franchise, the farm teams are personally owned by people, corporations, who want to make money and draw. At arotain level, If they're short; they1 canlbuy these (former; major leaguers)fotf attendance. They have no bearing on a guy like Joe (Kesselmark), however. Joe is gonna go to the big leagues." .. ., Wyso , feels that none, of the three players (. should consider this a pivotal season, though. When Kesselmark was signed by the Dodgers, he earned a bonus. He. will be given his shot. Bruno and Dixon were both protected over the winter by their respective parent clubs. ' "If the guy goes to Triple A and then back to Double A, OK then, yeah, I'd tell him to consider life elsewhere," said Wyso. "But I would say they have no reason to worry right now, despite their ages. The Giants protected Dixon over the winter. That says they wanted someone to pay at least $50,000 to . take him. If he was on the Double A list he would have been gone. People would pay $12,500 to take $r guy who had 72 stolen bases. I don't care ff he killed a guy." As for Bruno, Wyso said the Reds Triple A team in Nashville has long been regarded as one of the top drawing minor league teams in the country. There' is pressure to win there, just as in Cincinnati, and it might take longer for a prospect to reach that level. Still; expect Bruno to be there. "Hey, if theydidn't consider Bruno a prospect they wouldn't have taken him to big league camp this spring," said Wyso. Dixon runs into Giant roadblock By Rich Thomaselli Jovrnal tuff D ee Dixon is an angry young man. In the Billy Joel tune of the name, an angry young man at an old establishment and it as one that is holding him same looks views back. In this case, the establishment is the San Francisco Giants. The angry young man is Dee Dixon. The problem is Dixon's advancement through ' San Francisco's farm system. "This job isn't fair," said Dixon, ;H 'riV ;H s LDEEDIXON ACE: 25 RESIDENCE: Virginia Beach, Va. HICH SCHOOL Poughkeepsie COLLEGE: Norfolk State University DRAFTED: San Francisco Giants 17 pick. June 1986 POSITION: Left - handed hitting out - CURRENT CLUB: Shreveport Captains. Texas League PARENT CLUB: San Francisco Giants MINOR LEAGUE EXPERIENCE: Ev erett, Washington (Rookie). Clinton, Iowa (Single A); Shreveport, Louisiana (Double A) CURRENT STATS: 53 games. .229 average, (36 - for - 157), 22 runs, 6 doubles. 3 triples. 0 HR, 1 4 RBI. 1 4 stolen bases. speaking from the clubhouse of the Double A Shreveport (La.) Captains. "There's lot of BS, a lot of politics, but I don't want to be a baby. I don't want to get that kind of reputation." Last year at Shreveport, Dixon batted .290 and stole 72 bases for the Captains, a figure that led the entire Giants' organization. When spring training rolled around this year, the former Poughkeepsie High School standout thought he'd be headed to the Phoenix Fire - IBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBJ jBBlrc 9BBBflPVwBBBBBBBBB ILLLLLLVLLLLLLLBtt&jdHHesH' - 1iBSBF - 'V'kkBBM BBBBBBBBBBBB2SBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBHBBBBitfM k?3BBMBR:'.:',m'uBBBBBBBBBfl EBBBBBBBBHBBsPBBBBBBBBB ?IHitfNBHBBBBBn BBBBBBBBBkHBlBBBaBBBBBHB9BHBiui& - 3Bv jk "MSf y vSmH HLHHSgRPfLiKliL. vHkit' & &l til BBBBBHBnBnlBHRfFiBJtti - & K' lHBy"W? 4 - si IbbbbbbbbbbShHbhbhb9P''l. &.v!V ! jjI BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBpSBSBjBBBBBHIBBBBr 'w - 4Mflp.4fe. " JVtf (4A w f h. 4X v JtOfc r bbbbbbbbbbHHHPPJt - ; TnMtonrrfi 4. ,k ' sS XJ. Vly 0" BBBBBB aJ W Hwffpfr w 1bbbbLbbT kxi. u v9 r jLTbbbbbbYi 1 1 1 iimm .BBBBBMi v.i n " Y.V w U4kBk. KlZyM Spvckil to Itw JownKil Dee Dixon has had a frustrating season to date in 1 989, . .Vi birds, the Giants' Triple A team. It was not to be. A glut ol outfielders sent Dixon back to Shreveport, bitter and disap - " pointed. The' ill feelings have apparently spilled over to his play. Dixon is in the midst of a 4 - for - 40 slump that has dropped his batting average to .229. With half the season finished, he has just 14 stolen bases in 19 attempts. As a result, he is be - " ing platooned. "Yeah, he's struggling big time," said Shreveport manager Bill Evers. "He's having a, hard time accepting platooning." v Making matters worse is Dixon's attitude. He is admittedly sulking over the platoon system Evers has chosen to employ. "That's really the only thing that has me down, not playing on a regular basis," said Dixon. "It's rough. I play one out of four days. and it's tough to get something going. "Right now, I'm a little (ticked) off," he said. "At one point I was ready to shut things down but my mom, my friends told me not too." Dixon was peeved to the point where he has asked his agent to look to swing a deal that will land Dixon in another organization. Don't expect that to happen, however. The Giants protected Dixon over the winter and Evers believes Dixon can make it to the majors. "He possesses a tool that can't be taught he has great speed," said Evers. "His weaknesses are out in the field and his throwing arm. If he could work on those things I'd say he's a major - league prospect: "But I think the true problem is he feels he doesn't belong as a platoon player. He thinks he put big enough numbers up to go to Triple A and it hurt his pride." Evers said Dixon's case is nothing new at this level. He used Greg Linton as an example. "Greg Linton was a platoon player down here," explained Evers. "Something happened, he caught a few breaks, and now he's in the big leagues." , So now the ball is literally in Dixon's court. . "I don't kngw what's going to happen," Dixon said. "I had a decent year last year, hit .290, and then I , have to come back (to Shreveport) and now I'm on the bench. If they (the Giants) don't give me my chance, hopefully another team will. "But I'm going to bear down," he added. "My mom says the cream Irises to the top and I look at myself as the cream." Kesselmark takes 'crazy' life in stride By Rich Thomaselli Journal iuif Life in the minor leagues can be crazy, says Joe Kesselmark. Take this week, for instance. Kesselmark's San Antonio Missions, the Double A farm team of the Los Angeles Dodgers, were in Wichita, Kansas, to take on the Wichita - S. SJOE KESSELMARK AGE: 23 RESIDENCE: Poughkeepsie HIGH SCHOOL Our Lady of Lourdes COLLEGE: Pace University DRAFTED: Los Angeles Dodgers 8 pick. June 1986 ... POSITION: Left - handed hitting outfielder .CURRENT CLUB: San Antonio Missions, Texas League PARENT CLUB: Los Angeles Dodgers MINOR LEAGUE EXPERIENCE: Great Falls, Montant (Rookie): Vero Beach, Florida (Single A); San Antonio Missions (Double A) CURRENT STATS: 69 games, .231 average (S7 - for - 247), 33 runs, 1 1 doubles, 3 triples. 0 home runs. 12 RBI. a fd Wranglers, the San, Diego Padres farm club. It was a three - game series in the Texas League. It yas also the 10th straight game between the two teams since San Antonio and Wichita hatTendeVi the first half oMhe season last week by playing a seven - game set In Texas. seen their best pitcher three times in 10 games. "It's crazy." Right now, Kesselmark will take crazy .When the former Our Lady qf LourdeV and Pace University star suited up for Tuesday night's game .with the Wranglers, it was his 67th game of the year, or roughly half the schedule. Last season, fate prevented Kesselmark from playing 67 games. On June 4 of last year, Kesselmark and a teammate were assaulted outside a San Antonio restaurant. Kesselmark was stabbed several times and underwent emergency surgery. He spent .the next week in a hospital and the next two months recovering. The wounds weresuch that doctors said he heeded at least nine months before resuming his career. Kesselmark was back swinging the bat in late August. . TJis year, though his numbers are down, Kesselmark is sUlhjyinging (he sweet stick. "I don't even think about the stabbing anymore' said Kesselmark. It might not come into play but that doesn't mean it's forgotten. Kesselmark's manager at Sari Antonio, John Shoemaker, says every time he looks at Kesselmark he sees courage. "That just proves what type of kid """" he'js," Shoemaker said. "He's real ,lcP tUUgll ailU MUiU - llVSEU. IE MW "V been that type of a person he might not have been able to rebound so Joe Kesselmark squares to bunt land Angels iVicrixy said . Kesselmask - , quickly. He looks like he's 100 per - from his hotel room in Wichita, "you - cenuome. KesseimarK is navuig an inieresi - log season so - far. The numbers usually pjay a ive, six - game .series find you get tired of seeing the same people. I meanwell probably have M aren't typical Kesselmark stats a " : .231 batting average with just 12 runs batted in. Yet, he and Shoemaker say he's swinging the bat as well as he ever has. That's what has the lefty - hitting outfielder frustrated. If he were in a ' slump, Kesselmark would just take a back, find put what the problem and make the change to correct it. In this case, there is nothing to correct. "My first full year in Vertf Beach (Single A) I started out slow," recalled Kesselmark.;uThat was differ eht, though. I made the adjustments because I was struggling. Here It's b SpMlol to Jvwnwl in a recent game against the Mid - different because I'm hitting the ball well. There's not too much you can do. You think you have to change but really you shouldn't Shoemaker agrees, or else he wouldn't he penciling in Kesselmark's namj on the lineup card every night. "It seems like every time he hits the ball hard, he hits It right at someone," said the manager. "He just has to go out and stay within hjmself. He knows1 he's .better when he's hitting line drives and hitting it to all fields," ' , "It's Just a matter pf time for Jo" - ',. i ' '' - tr - - - - - - - - j. - s - - J - . - - JS. - m ..... m Special to th iowrmrf Joe Bruno is tearing it up for Double A Chattanooga, but is finding advancemertt to the Triple A level a rough - numbers game. Reds" depth keeps Bruno on the farm By Rich Thomaselli Journal (tiff J oe Bruno is playing the waiting game. Once again, he's having a strong season for the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Double A farm team of the Cincinnati Reds. His stats bear that out. But the Staatsburg resident and former Roosevelt High School star is caught up in a different set of numbers the ones involving his advancement to the Triple A level. ;There is a lot ot pitching in this organization. A lot of good pitching," said Bruno from his hotel room in Birmingham, Ala., . this week. Bruno and the Lookouts were in town to lake on the Barons, the Double A team of the Chicago White Sox. "I think the Reds, like every team, take pride in their farm system and the pitching down here," he said. "But there's just so many (pitchers)." Bruno is doing his part. Last year, the right - hander was 7 - 3 with a 1.21 earned run average and four saves. ,; This year, Bruno has taken on a new role, going from middle reliever to stopper in the bullpen. Bruno is 41 with a 3.60 - earned run average and seven saves. "It really wasnt my choice (to be a short reliever) but it's the. way I'm gonna get to the big leagues,1' he said. Those numbers earned him a spot on the Double. A All - Star .team and he galnedwe win in the AU - Star game with an inning's work against - the Toronto Blue Jays. ' Yet Bruno finds roQnrfbrieli - improvement. The saves, he says,, should be higher. "I have seven saves and another guy has eight," said Bruno. "But it jusUeems like.every time iiW'flm'TiiiTiiifeJftiiiai tadEBRUli AGE: 25 RESIDENCE: Staatsburg HIGH SCHOOL Roosevelt COLLEGE: Columbia University DRAFTED: Cincinnati Reds, June 1985, free agent draft POSITION: Right - handed relief pitcher CURRENT CLUB: Chattanooga Lookouts, Southern League PARENT CLUB: Cincinnat Reds MINOR LEAGUE EXPERIENCE: Billings, Montana (Rookie); Cedar Rap - Ms, Iowa (Single A); Chattanooga, Tennessee (Double A). CURRENT STATS: 4 - 1 record, 3.60 ERA, 30 innings pitched, 25 hits, 12 earned runs, 13 strikeouts, 7 saves: (Double A All - Star game 1 inning, 3 hits, won the game). S turn to pitch." A save is more than he got last year, however. "To me. there's no difference in being a middle reliever or a short reliever," he said. "Only this year, ff I do well I get a save instead of a pat on the back." v To move up, Bruno needs more saves than pats on the back. And more wins. And a lower ERA, In short, the righty needs to distinguish himself. In spring training, Bruno vas at the big league camp in Plant City, Fla. - along with 24 other pitchers. Now, there's a dozen other pitchers on the Chattanooga roster hoping to make a Triple A Nashville team that has eight pitchers with ERA'S Jess than 3.00. "It's hard to say what's going to happen," said Bruno, "There are some pitchers in Nashville that have been around for a while. The 'Reds signed them last year kind of as insurance policies. But from what, we hear, I gus they're not doing the job so I hope they, look down here... '.,. "I 'hope one of, us v; gets a chance." - A . ' mmmmmmmmmmmm ' "ii 4

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