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Midwest League 2003

The Best Players

Here's the question: If you could select a 25-player roster from the current MWL staff, which 25 would you choose? Here are my selections, as of late May, 2003.

By mid-May, we've begun to understand our teams, and the players who compose them. We know which teams seem to have the best talent. We've begun to recognize the strongest pitchers, the fastest baserunners, the slick fielders, the power threats. Late in the month, I find a few hours and make a list. Among other things, this gives me an opportunity to look at the players away from their teams, and make some sense of what we're watching.

These are strictly my opinions. The MWL All-Star team, which reflects the managers' opinions on a similar question, was published a few days after this listing.


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2003 Season
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League
MWL Fan's Guide

As long as I'm offering opinions:

  • Best Player? Perhaps Kane County's John Baker. Or maybe Peoria's John Santor.
    • Beloit's Prince Fielder's been our Most Exciting player. Partly it's the name; partly it's performance.
  • Best Pitcher? Jon Connolly, of West Michigan.
    • I'd been planning to select Kane County's Shane Komine, but he's been promoted to Midland. Doing quite well, thank you.

Everyday Starters

Here are the players I'd use every day. A complete roster, with full statistics, is presented at the bottom of the page.

  • Batting Order
    • Wilton Reynolds, West Michigan
    • Alberto Callaspo, Cedar Rapids
    • Travis Hanson, Peoria
    • John Santor, Peoria
    • John Baker, Kane County
    • Nelson Cruz, Kane County
    • Donnie Hood, Lansing
    • L.J. Biernbaum, Fort Wayne
    • Eric Aybar, Cedar Rapids
  • Starting Rotation
    • Gabe Ribas, Fort Wayne
    • Brian Whittaker, Fort Wayne
    • Jon Connolly, West Michigan
    • Blake Hawksworth, Peoria
    • Drew Dickinson, Peoria
  • Short Relief
    • Pat Neshek, Quad City
    • Dale Thayer, Fort Wayne

Disclaimer: This isn't a list of prospects. It's a list of players having excellent seasons; most of them are "prospects," but that wasn't a consideration.


Best Players for 2003

If I could pick a team of 25 Midwest League players (perhaps to play a Sally League All-Star team), this is the team I'd select:

  CATCHERS           Tm  Bats Pos  G  AB  R  H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB  AVG  OBP  SLG
  John Baker         KC  L    C   46 177 24 57 13  2  3  33 20 41  0 .322 .389 .469
  Brian Kennedy      QC  L    C   38 126 16 37  5  2  3  24 20 19  0 .294 .412 .437

  INFIELDERS         Tm  Bats Pos  G  AB  R  H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB  AVG  OBP  SLG
  Eric Aybar         CR  B    SS  48 183 32 57  9  3  3  24  8 23 15 .311 .360 .443
  Alberto Callaspo   CR  R    2B  47 184 35 60 13  2  2  25 11  7  8 .326 .357 .451
  Prince Fielder     BEL L    1B  48 171 22 48  8  1  7  26 28 32  1 .281 .397 .462
  Travis Hanson      PEO L    3B  48 188 29 56 16  3  5  39 14 37  2 .298 .351 .495
  Kevin Howard       DAY L    2B  48 174 30 49 11  1  3  23 23  6  3 .282 .371 .408
  John Santor        PEO B    1B  47 165 29 58 15  1  2  20 25 39  1 .352 .440 .491

  OUTFIELDERS        Tm  Bats Pos  G  AB  R  H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB  AVG  OBP  SLG
  L.J. Biernbaum     FW  L    OF  43 159 29 47  7  3  4  28 20 32  0 .296 .372 .453
  Nelson Cruz        KC  R    OF  46 179 32 48 10  2 11  40 14 54  3 .268 .335 .531
  Matt Lemanczyk     PEO R    OF  46 167 25 46  4  0  0  14 12 30 22 .275 .330 .299
  Wilton Reynolds    WM  R    OF  41 145 20 48  9  4  4  22 11 38  4 .331 .413 .531
  Mel Stocker        BUR B    OF  45 177 31 50  6  5  2  10 15 25 15 .282 .359 .407
  
    DESIGNATED HITTER  Tm  Bats Pos  G  AB  R  H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB  AVG  OBP  SLG
  Donnie Hood        LAN R    DH  26  87 20 34 10  1  6  18  7 24  0 .391 .432 .736

  
  PITCHERS           Tm  Th W L  ERA  G GS CG SHO SV IP    H  R ER BB SO
  Jon Connolly       WM  L  8 0 0.75  9  9  1   0  0 59.2 50  9  5 17 29
  Drew Dickinson     KC  L  6 2 2.75 10 10  2   1  0 68.2 50 24 21 17 38
  Jose Garcia        BC  R  4 3 1.98  8  8  2   0  0 50.0 38 12 11 14 32
  Blake Hawksworth   PEO R  4 1 1.69  7  7  0   0  0 42.2 28  8  8  8 46
  Kameron Loe        CLI R  3 1 1.08 11  6  0   0  1 50.0 36  9  6  8 45
  Pat Neshek         QC  R  2 2 0.42 19  0  0   0  8 21.2 12  2  1 11 32
  Gabe Ribas         FW  R  6 2 2.44 10 10  0   0  0 55.1 42 21 15 15 56
  Sam Smith          SB  R  6 1 2.11  9  9  2   2  0 61.0 53 17 15  7 29
  Anderson Taverez   LAN R  5 1 1.83  8  8  1   1  0 44.1 47 16  9 10 31
  Dale Thayer        FW  R  0 1 0.44 20  0  0   0 10 20.1  6  3  1  6 32
  Brian Whittaker    FW  R  3 2 3.40  9  9  1   0  0 50.1 53 27 19 66 31

Note

While the MWL's best player is usually obvious by late May, that is not the case this summer. These are very fine players, but none seem likely to blow away the competition for MVP, Prospect of the Year, or other post-season awards.


Of course there's room for disagreement. That's what makes this fun.

  • These are my May 25 opinions, and are subject to change. I won't post updated opinions on this page, but may post them elsewhere on the site.
  • Stats shown are through May 25, 2003.


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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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