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Midwest League 1998

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers


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This page is a profile of the 1998 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, a Single-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners and a member of the Midwest League. The main object of this page was to give clues about which players you should watch when the Timber Rattlers visited each team; this page was first published in April and was updated through the season.

Except when another date is specified, statistics on this page are through the end of the season.


Appleton, Wisconsin; affiliated with the Seattle Mariners.
Manager: Gary Varsho
Coaches: Omer Munoz, Steve Peck (pitching)

High Attendance: 5,541 (August 15)
Low Attendance: 1,021 (April 10)
Average Attendance: 3,343 (through end of season)
1997 Season Average: 3,390
Note: These unofficial numbers may have errors.


Post-Season Profile

Something went wrong, here. The Rattlers are just brimming with talent, especially on the mound, and many of these players showed flashes of brilliance. For half the season, they looked like the league's best nine. After June, though, they were just another team.

The offense was strong: Jermaine Clark's a delightful ballplayer with no apparent weaknesses. Harvey Hargrove's only obvious weakness is a tendency to swing at bad pitches. Ramon Valera's a terrific baserunner, a fine infielder, and a decent hitter. Greg Conners is a solid, dependable power source. Patrick (Peanut) Williams is a raw talent who needs to learn the strike zone--and nonetheless a strong contributor and an obvious big league prospect.

The pitching was stronger: The typical Timber Rattler pitcher throws extremely hard but has trouble finding the plate. Ryan Anderson's not ready for the majors, yet, but even his bad outings are pretty impressive. Gil Meche's a bit more polished, and nearly as promising. The others have less talent, but the same pattern repeats; brilliant outings and complete collapses. This squad broke the league record for season strikeouts, but lots of MWL pitchers had better seasons. An interesting group, but flawed. They should have interesting careers. This year, sadly, has to be called a disappointment.


MWL Fan's Guide

Team Profile

Season Summary

  • Pitching: 72-65, 3.98, 34 saves, 1274 strikeouts
  • Hitting: .256, 640 runs, 93 HR, 199 steals
  • First Half: 39-30 (.565), 1st place, 4.5 ahead
  • Second Half: 33-35 (.485), tied for 3rd, 6.0 behind
  • April: 13-5 (.722)
  • May: 15-15 (.500)
  • June: 15-12 (.556)
  • July: 16-13 (.552)
  • August: 9-17 (.346)
  • September: 4-3 (.571)
  • Playoff Round 1: Lost to Rockford, 1-2

  • Best Player on the Team: Second Baseman Jermaine Clark

  • Best Starting Pitcher: Gil Meche (8-7, 3.44, 168 strikeouts)
  • Bullpen Stopper: Lesli Brea (3-4, 2.76, 12 saves, 86 strikeouts)
  • Best Strikeout Pitcher: Leslie Brea or Ryan Anderson
  • Best Control Pitcher: Gil Meche

  • Best Hitter: Jermaine Clark (.324, 81 runs, 6 HR, 55 RBI, 40 steals)
  • Highest BA: Jermaine Clark (.324)
  • Home Run Leaders: Harvey Hargrove and Juan Silvestre (15)
  • Best Baserunner: Ramon Valera (52 steals)
  • Best Batting Eye: Luis Figueroa

July Profile

The Rattlers are an interesting group. This team's playing excellent baseball, but with this talent they could be a dominating team. They're still pretty young, so let's chalk it up to inexperience.

Second baseman Jermaine Clark and outfielder Mike Marchiano are very different players, but are the heart of this team's offense. Clark's a speedster who will develop serious power as he ages; Marchiano's a home run threat with some speed. Outfielders Harvey Hargrove and Juan Silvestre can hurt with their bats, while shortstop Ramon Valera is a basepath threat. The pitchers, as a group, are impressive prospects who haven't yet mastered the craft; almost any could develop into a big league star, but your best bets are Ryan Anderson, Gil Meche, and Emerson Bello.

Two more to watch: Pitcher Clint Chrysler and designated hitter Patrick Williams.


June Profile

While the Rattlers are not improving as fast as the other good MWL teams, they remain among the best. The pitching staff, in particular, is exceptionally talented.

Second baseman Jermaine Clark is the team's offensive leader; he's a fine all-round player who is leading the minor leagues in triples this summer. Harvey Hargrove and Mike Marchiano are a notch below, on the scale; still very fine players. Ryan Anderson remains the MWL's most formidable pitcher, though he's still real raw; Joel Pineiro is the safer, but less interesting, starter. This team doesn't really have a closer, but does have some notable relievers. Justin Kaye and Lesli Brea have been effective, and although Clint Chrysler's been roughed up a few times, he's a promising arm. It's an interesting and talented team.


May Profile

Although they slowed down quite a bit in May, this is still the league's best team. The hitters are very good, with lots of power throughout the lineup and a couple speedsters; the pitching staff has both talent and depth. And the team features the MWL's best-known prospect since A-Rod represented Appleton a few years back.

Ryan Anderson's the best talent on this team, but the entire pitching staff is performing well and Joel Pineiro's been a more effective starter. There's no pitcher on this staff who can't win consistently in this league. While the hitting's not as strong, Jermaine Clark's having a fine year. Luis Figueroa has the best batting eye in the league; unfortunately he's showing little power and less speed. Most of the other regular position players are power threats.


April Profile

I think the Timber Rattlers are the team you'll need to beat to win the MWL pennant, come September. This team has a brilliant pitching staff, and some very good hitters. If Ryan Anderson can learn to throw strikes, he'll be out of here; he might already be our best pitcher.


Pre-Season Profile

Manager

Manager Gary Varsho is in his second season as a manager, and his second with the Rattlers. Last year his team bunted a lot, but no other trait stands out.

Where they played last season

Many of these guys played at Everett last summer; most of the rest are returning from last year's Rattlers squad.

Team      League         W/L   Place    Hitters Pitchers
                              (Teams)
Lancaster California (A) 75-66  3(10)       0       1
Wisconsin Midwest (A)    76-63  2(14)       6       4
Everett   Northwest (A)  29-47  7(8)        9       8
Peoria AZ Arizona (R)    30-26  2(6)        1       1

One player was acquired from another organization, and one did not play professionally last summer. One of these folks spent some time at the AA roster, and another appeared briefly at AAA. There was some movement within the system, so some players are counted more than once on this table.

Team Age

This information is based on the opening-day roster.

  • Oldest Player:
    • Mike Marchiano, 23 (2/3/75)
  • Youngest Player:
    • Ryan Anderson, 18 (7/12/79)
  • Average Team Age:
    • Pitchers: 20.5
    • Position Players: 21.2
    • Team Average: 20.9

First Round Draftees

  • Ryan Anderson (1997; 19th pick)
  • Gil Meche (1996; 22nd pick)

Honors

  • Ryan Anderson
    • Baseball America best Mariners Prospects: best fastball, #1 prospect
    • Baseball Weekly 1998 Minor League All-Star: honorable mention
    • Baseball America 1998 Post Season MWL Prospects: Number 3
    • Baseball America Mariners Post-Season Prospect Summary: best minor league pitcher
    • Howe SportsData All-Prospect Team: honorable mention
    • Howe SportsData Teen Minor League Team: pitcher
    • 1998 Midwest League Post-Season All-Star Left-Handed Starter
    • Baseball America Best Tools: best fastball
    • 1998 Midwest League All-Star Game selection
    • Baseball America 1997 Prospects: #1 prospect, best fastball
    • Baseball America 1997 Mariners Draft Analysis: best athlete, closest to majors, second-hardest fastball of any draftee
  • Lesli Brea
    • Baseball America best Mets Prospects: #7 prospect
    • Mariners' Most Improved Player (tied)
    • 1998 Midwest League All-Star Game selection
  • Mike Birling
    • Midwest League Executive of the Year
  • Clint Chrysler
    • 1997 Northwest League: All-Star relief pitcher
  • Jermaine Clark
    • Baseball America best Mariners Prospects: best hitter for average
    • 1998 Midwest League Post-Season All-Star Second Baseman
    • Midwest League Hitter of the Week for June 29-July 4
    • Howe SportsData Emerging Prospect
    • Baseball America: 1997 Mariners Draft Analysis: best professional debut
  • Greg Connors
    • California League Player of the Week for week ending July 26 (on loan to Lancaster)
  • Luis Figueroa
    • Howe SportsData Emerging Prospect
    • 1998 Midwest League All-Star Game selection
  • Harley Hargrove
    • Baseball America: 1997 Mariners Draft Analysis: best pure hitter, fastest runner
  • Carlos Maldonado
    • Baseball America: 1997 Prospects: #10 prospect, best defensive catcher
  • Mike Marchiano
    • 1998 Midwest League All-Star Game selection
    • 1997 Northwest League: home run leader, All-Star designated hitter
    • Baseball America: 1997 Mariners Draft Analysis: best raw power
  • Gil Meche
    • Baseball America best Mariners Prospects: #4 prospect
    • Baseball America 1998 Post Season MWL Prospects: Number 6
    • 1998 Midwest League All-Star Game selection
    • 1997 Northwest League: #2 prospect
    • Baseball Weekly: 1997 Prospects: "Up and Coming"
    • Baseball America: 1997 Prospects: #2 prospect, best breaking ball
  • Jose Moreno
    • 1997 Arizona League: runs leader, All-Star shortstop
  • Juan Pineiro
    • Baseball America best Mariners Prospects: #6 prospect
    • 1998 Midwest League All-Star Game selection
  • Juan Silvestre
    • 1997 Arizona League: slugging percentage leader, All-Star designated hitter
  • Enmanuel Ulloa
    • 1998 Topps/NAPBL Short-Season Star: relief pitcher (at Mariners AZL team)
  • Ramon Valera
    • Baseball America best Mariners Prospects: fastest baserunner
  • Gary Varsho
    • Baseball America Best Tools: best manager prospect
  • Patrick "Peanut" Williams
    • Baseball America best Mariners Prospects: best power hitter


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The Midwest League plays Single-A, professional baseball in America's agricultural and industrial heartland. 16 teams play a 140 game schedule which begins in early April and ends Labor Day weekend.

Disclaimers:
This website is a private project and has no official relation with or sanction from the Midwest League or Minor League Baseball.
The opinions expressed on this page are mine, and are worth about that.


Copyright © 1996-2010 Joel Dinda
Some Rights Reserved.