Chinooks in the Minors: Earning the Respect of the Organization
A look at how Lakeshore Chinook alumni performed throughout baseball in 2016 . . .
Grafton, WI – Major League Baseball promotes all levels of minor league teams on its website, MiLB.com, where each year the site honors the players — regardless of age or prospect status — who had the best seasons in their organizations. MiLB.com looks at each farm system to determine the outstanding minor league seasons. Here is a quick review, along with comments from club officials about the former Lakeshore Chinooks who left a mark with their clubs in 2016 and have earned the respect of their organizations.
Brian Anderson (LAK 12), Jupiter (49 games), Jacksonville (86 games): The Marlins' No. 4 prospect and Minor League Player of the Year came into his own this season, tying one career high with 11 long balls while setting others with 65 RBIs and 58 walks across the two levels. "For me, he showed a real patience in his approach offensively and someone who was driving balls with authority to the outfield," said vice president of player development Marc DelPiano. "He dominated that speed of the game."
Harrison Bader (LAK 13), Springfield (82 games), Memphis (49 games): Bader began the season without much fanfare, ranked 10th among Cardinals prospects. The 22-year-old exploded out of the gates and hit .303 with 13 homers in the first half of the season. He ended up with a .267 average, 19 homers and 58 RBIs to move up to third in the system's rankings and 82nd overall. "Offensively, he hit right away in the months of April and May," Cardinals director of player development Gary LaRocque. "He was at the level of the league and beyond it…he had a lot of energy. He's got good tools and he competes extremely well."
Zach Granite (LAK 12), Chattanooga (127 games): Twins' Minor League Player of the Year stole 56 bases, which led the organization and the Southern League. He also topped the circuit with 155 hits, ranked second with 86 runs scored and third with a .295 batting average. The Seton Hall product fanned 43 times all year and his 13.58 total plate appearances-per-strikeout ratio was the lowest in the league. "He was the spark plug of our team. He was our heartbeat," said Chattanooga hitting coach Tommy Watkins. "He has a simple approach. Him, [manager] Doug [Mientkiewicz] and myself, but Doug especially, we were trying to get the bat head out a little more so he wasn't just hitting to the opposite field. He did that well. He started to pull the ball hard and he hit a couple of home runs. He's great on defense and he has great speed."
Marty Herum (LAK 13), Visalia (96 games): As he told Benjamin Hill in August, Herum could sum up his season as "pretty good" and that might not even cover it. He was part of the backbone on a Visalia team that finished with the California League's second-best overall record at 81-59 and reached the Championship Series. "He hit third, fourth or fifth for us every day and just held it down in the top of the lineup right there, did a great job," Rawhide manager J.R. House said. "He could've benefited from me giving him a little bit more time off, but I just couldn't. I loved putting him out there, and we needed him." Herum played primarily first base but also saw considerable time across the diamond at third. In total, the Minnesota native batted .294/.336/.411 with eight homers and 46 RBIs and was the only Rawhide player named to the Cal League's end-of-season All-Star squad. Beyond his on-field work, Herum the former UW-Whitewater Warhawk, has established a reputation as a clubhouse leader and well-rounded presence. "He's definitely earned that reputation where everybody loves him because he has a great heart and plays as hard as he can," House said. "He's the type of kid that you would want your daughter to marry. He's just a genuinely nice person and would do anything for you."
Jake Noll (LAK 14), GCL Nationals (7 games), Auburn (18 games), Hagerstown (32 games): Washington's seventh-round pick in this year's draft enjoyed a solid professional debut, batting .275/.332/.401 across three levels while playing strong defense up the middle. "It was a nice debut, right from the first day," said Washington director of player development Mark Scialabba. "Our scouts did a good job acquiring someone with an advanced approach, plus speed and solid athleticism. He controls the strike zone well, has good discipline and a quick, compact stroke with gap-to-gap strength. We already like what we've seen and we think he's got a bright future ahead of him."
Andrew Stevenson (LAK 13), Potomac (68 games), Harrisburg (65 games): Stevenson turned a strong debut in 2015 into an All-Star season in his first full year in 2016. Washington's fifth-ranked prospect earned Carolina League midseason All-Star honors and was named the game's MVP. Stevenson hit .304 and swiped 27 bases with the Nationals before a promotion to Double-A. Overall, the 22-year-old hit .276/.332/.374 with 75 runs scored and 39 stolen bases in 133 games. "It was a tremendous year for Andrew," Mark Scialabba said. "He's a top-of-the-lineup catalyst for us and an explosive runner with a contact bat. He's got great gap strength and has flashed the ability to drive the ball while handling the strike zone consistently well. He's an exciting player who is fun to watch."
Chinook fans should keep an eye on this group as each have left impressions and are likely to have the opportunity to be the first former Chinook called up to the major league level!
To follow the progress of any of the Lakeshore alums who are playing professional baseball, click on the Alumni tab under the Team section at the top of this page. Click on a specific player’s name to open a link to view their MiLB bio page.
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