Chinooks in the Minors: Overcoming Injuries
A look at how Lakeshore Chinook alumni performed throughout baseball in 2016!
Grafton, WI – It’s one thing to get drafted or to sign a free agent contract with a minor league team, but rising through the ranks to the ultimate dream of playing in “The Show” is often determined by talent, perseverance, timing, and avoiding injury. This past summer several former Chinooks were tested physically and emotionally by the dreaded injury bug. Additionally, others bounced back from or continued to battle with previous injuries. Here is an update on some of the more significant injuries faced by our former ‘Nooks:
Shaun Anderson – Coming off a long college season, including a trip to the 2016 College World Series, former Florida Gator pitcher Shaun Anderson was asked to transition from closer to starter as a 3rd Round pick of the Boston Red Sox. Prior to his first start, however, Anderson suffered a minor arm injury that set back his initial rookie season. Anderson, who commented, “I finished off the year strong in instructionals in the Dominican Republic and now feel very healthy,” will look to start fresh in 2017.
Bryce Beeler – Battling injuries is nothing new for the 23 year-old former Memphis Tiger. As a 19th Round pick of the Mets in 2014, Beeler underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and look to be back to form in 2016. He seemed to be on track with the Class A Columbia FireFlies, but reoccurring arm issues limited him to just to 23.1 total innings.
Blake Butler – Playing for the Daytona Tortugas in the Red’s organization, the steady second baseman from the College of Charleston who hit .309 in his first minor league season in 2015, hit a major roadblock in 2016 when a 98 mph fastball connected with and broke one of Butler’s ribs. The former NWL All-Star for the Chinooks is completing his degree at C of C while rehabbing to get back to form in 2017.
Chris Cotton – While Cotton has advanced further and more quickly than any of the Chinooks, the crafty lefty has been challenged throughout his ascent. This season, after a second promotion to the AAA Fresno Grizzlies in the Astros’ system, an arm injury and rehab resulted in a stint on the DL, a rehab assignment to Tri-City Valley, and a return to the AA Corpus Christi Hooks. Cotton battled through, however, turning in 36 appearances with a 3.70 ERA and returned to Fresno for the final month of the season.
Jason Hoppe – After a strong season with the Advanced A Inland Empire 66ers in the Angel’s system, the right-handed pitcher was shelved late in the season to have his appendix removed. With a solid 49 innings on the mound, Hoppe is aiming to make the jump to AA in 2017.
Karch Kowalczyk – The determined closer in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ system was headed for a terrific season as he earned six saves at Rancho Cucamonga (Advanced A) before a nagging injury in a lat muscle set the hurler back. After recovering late in the summer, he was sent to the Class A Great Lakes Loons where he was credited with the win in one inning of work in the decisive game of the Midwest League Championship.
Ryan Krill – While the Chinooks’ faithful were thrilled to see Ryan Krill on hand for the team’s first player bobble head this year, it was only made possible by a wrist injury that set the first base slugger back in 2016. Krill returned to the diamond as a member of the Yankees’ Gulf Coast Rookie team after an early June surgery to repair his hamate bone. Once recovered, Krill returned with a vengeance, batting .379 with 3 home runs in 18 games at the end of the 2016 summer.
Connor McKay – After signing a free agent deal out of Kansas in 2015 with the Texas Rangers, McKay was promoted to the Class A Hickory Crawdads where he struggled at the plate in 47 games before being hit by a pitch in late August. A concussion left him on the disabled list, but a winter opportunity to play in the Australian Baseball League may help the outfielder get back on track.
Alex Young – As a second round pick for Arizona, former TCU pitcher Alex Young got an extended look this summer with 118.2 innings for Class A Kane County and Advanced A Visalia, despite missing over a month with a slight elbow injury. "It's you versus yourself when you;re doing rehab," says Young. "I made it a goal to work as hard as I could each day to get back out there pitching, but you can't push so hard that you get hurt again." An important off-season working out at TCU will help the top prospect prepare for a pivotal year in his development.
As all of our former Chinooks work hard in the off-season, we wish them well as they recover from injury and work hard to prevent future injuries that may jeopardize a career. For many, dealing with and avoiding injuries will impact their futures!
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.
The Lakeshore Chinooks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 23-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 160 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.lakeshorechinooks.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Chinooks as your favorite team.