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Midwest League 2001

Kane County Cougars

Midwest League Champions


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18may01
Changed
31aug10
Major Change
30oct01


2001 Teams
Beloit
Burlington
Cedar Rapids
Clinton
Dayton
Fort Wayne
Kane County
Lansing
Michigan
Peoria
Quad City
South Bend
West Michigan
Wisconsin

This page profiles the 2001 Kane County Cougars, a Single-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins and a member of the Midwest League.


Except where otherwise specified, all statistics on this page are through the end of the 2001 season.

  • Geneva, Illinois.
  • Affiliated with the Florida Marlins.
  • Manager: Russ Morman.
  • Coaches: Rey Mendoza (pitching), Matt Winters.

Post-Season Profile

The Cougars had a terrific season.

The Cougars lost their edge somewhere in July, and during August were playing 50/50 ball. They remain an immensely talented team, they did win more games than anyone else, and they mostly deserved all the post-season awards they accumulated (I'd have awarded MVP to another player). But their second half has to be called a disappointment. All the same, 88 wins is a remarkable season.

Manager Russ Morman ran good pitchers out there every night, and his team supported them with lots of runs. That's a winning formula. The Cougar pitching staff didn't show any special skills, but they threw strikes and made hitters work. Ramon Castillo was the most effective starter, and Chris Key starred out of the 'pen.

The Kane County offense had many strengths--speed, power, patience--and very few weaknesses. This team scored pretty much at will. Adrian Gonzalez played at an MVP level for the first half, then tailed off considerably after the All-Star break. By season's end Jim Kavouias was probably contributing more to the team; a half-dozen other players had strong seasons at the plate. The same players formed the league's strongest defense.


MWL Fan's Guide

Season Summary

  • Second Half: 41-29, .586, 2nd place, 2.0 behind
  • First Half: 47-21, .691, 1st place, 5.0 ahead (playoff qualifier)
  • Pitching: 88-50, 3.86, 39 saves, 865 strikeouts
  • Hitting: .271, 767 runs, 108 HR, 120 steals (67% success)
  • Errors: 150 (1.09 per game)
  • April: 16-8 (.667)
  • May: 20-7 (.741)
  • June: 19-8 (.704)
  • July: 16-12 (.571)
  • August: 14-15 (.483)
  • September: 3-0 (1.000)

  • Best Player on the Team: First Baseman Adrian Gonzalez

  • Best Starting Pitcher: Mike McNutt (3.94, 9-5, 107 strikeouts)
  • Bullpen Stopper: Brandon Sloan (3.36, 9 saves, 3-4)
  • Strikeout Pitcher: Eudy Lajara
  • Control Pitchers: Marc Sauer, Mike McNutt, Ramon Castillo, Hansel Izquierdo, Chris Key, John Skinner

  • Best Hitter: Adrian Gonzalez (.312, 17 HR, 103 RBI)
  • Home Run Leader: Jim Kavourias (23)
  • High Batting Average: Adrian Gonzalez (.312)
  • High On Base Percentage: Pat Magness (.400)
  • High Slugging Percentage: Adrian Gonzalez (.486), Jim Kavourias (.493), Will Smith (.457)
  • Notable Baserunners: Jim Kavourias, Chip Ambres, Josh Willingham, Josh Wilson, Matt Easterday, Matt Demarco
  • Notable Batting Eye: Pat Magness

July Profile

The Cougars remain the best team in the League, though they look better on paper than on the field. This is an enormously talented team--probably the best set of prospects in the last decade. Speed, power, pitching, and defense; they're lots of fun to watch.

The pitching staff is without stars, but it's a very solid corps. The starters don't give many games away. The relievers are rock-solid; closers Brandon Sloan and Mike Flannery have been particularly effective.

This team's glory, though, is the offense; this team scores far more runs than any other MWL team, and they've a shot at the season record for most team hits (it's 1350, by the 1999 Michigan squad). Although Adrian Gonzalez is no longer posting MVP-like numbers, he remains one of the League's best hitters. He's supported by an excellent cast: Jim Kavourias provides power, Josh Willingham & Josh Wilson provide basepath speed, and Pat Magness, Will Smith, and Chip Ambres are well-rounded talents.

Also worth watching: Catcher Matt Postell.


June Profile

There's so much to like about this team. Strong pitching, even stronger hitting, and an excellent defense add up the the MWL's best team. If the Cougars continue to play at this level, they'll rank among the best teams in league history.

Adrian Gonzalez is the strongest hitter in a very strong Cougar lineup, and is probably the best talent appearing on the MWL diamonds this season. But the supporting cast cannot be overlooked: Josh Willingham, Jim Kavourias, Pat Magness, Will Smith, and Chip Ambres are playing excellent baseball.

Marc Sauer, Gustavo Lopez, Mike McNutt, Brad Haynes, and Ramon Castillo form an exceptionally strong pitching rotation. Although Brandon Sloan's not an ideal closer, he's getting the job done. The bullpen, in general, is very strong.

Notable mid-season loss: Hansel Izquierdo.


May Profile

This is the team you've gotta see this summer....

Chip Ambres would be the best player on many MWL teams this season. He's the sixth best player on this team. The Cougars have great hitting and very good pitching.

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez is this team's star, but isn't significantly more valuable than outfielders Will Smith, Jim Kavourias, and Chip Ambres. This is a potent offense. There's not much on the bench, but the Cougar regulars are so talented the weak bench hasn't been an issue.

Hansel Izquierdo's won six games in middle relief--it's not a fluke; he's a very good pitcher capitalizing on his opportunities. The most common starting pitchers--Mike McNutt, Gustavo Lopez, Brad Haynes, Marc Sauer, and Ramon Castillo--are capable, and closer Brandon Sloan has done very well. The bullpen is probably the strongest in the league.


April Profile

The Cougars just might blow everyone away this summer. This team has an excellent mix of talents--the only apparent weakness is the defense. Unlike previous Cougar nines, this one has power. This should be fun to watch.


Pre-Season Profile

Manager

This is Russ Morman's second summer at the Cougars' helm. During Morman's rookie year at Kane County, he was a fully conventional Midwest League manager.


First Round Draft Selections

  • Adrian Gonzalez (2000; 1st selection)
  • Chip Ambres (1998; 27th selection)

Team Age Information

  • Average Team Age: 21.6
  • Pitchers: 21.6
  • Hitters: 21.5
  • Oldest Player on the Team: Willy Hill (born 9/21/76)
  • Youngest Player on the Team: Miguel Cabrera (born 4/18/83)

The average player in the Midwest League is 21.6 years old. Average ages were calculated from the opening day roster; age as of July 1, 2001.

This website has more information about team ages.


Where they played last season

This is a brief portrait of how the team was put together. These summaries are based on the team's opening day roster and will not be revised to reflect roster changes.

The 2001 Cougars were built from the best players in the lower reaches of last summer's Marlins system.

Team           League             W/L   Place    Hitters Pitchers
                                       (Teams)
Brevard County Florida State (A+) 66/74 10(14)      2       2
Kane County    Midwest (A)        74/65  4(14)      6       5
Utica          New York-Penn (A-) 35/40  9(14)      8       5
Marlins        Gulf Coast (R)     40/20  2(13)      4       4

There was lots of movement in the Marlins system last season, so many of these players played for two teams in 2000 and are counted here for both squads. One of these came from another organization.



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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.


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