Former Mallards Vying For Chance at Big Leagues This Spring
By Ryan Hill — Public Relations
Madison, WI – March 14, 2013. Former Madison Mallards pitcher J.R. Graham and catcher John Hicks are off to highly successful starts this spring training for their respective MLB teams.
Graham, a right-handed pitcher for the Mallards during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, pitched two scoreless innings of two-hit ball for the Atlanta Braves in their 10-2 loss to the Miami Marlins Sunday. He recorded two strikeouts and extended his scoreless innings streak to seven.
Graham has a 0.00 ERA and has recorded two saves in his four appearances for the Braves this spring. He has four strikeouts while only allowing three walks in his seven innings of work.
The 6’2″, hard-throwing righty went 12-2 with a 2.80 ERA in 26 starts last season for high-A Lynchburgh and AA Mississippi.
“The kid’s got plenty of stuff to be successful up in the major league level,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday.
Graham went 1-2 with a 4.67 ERA in 44.1 innings for the Mallards in 2009. In 2010, he went 2-4 with a 2.75 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 32.2 innings of work.
Hicks, a catcher for the Mallards during the 2009 season, has six hits in ten at-bats for the Seattle Mariners this spring. He has knocked in four runs and scored three after starting the spring with three hits in his first three at-bats.
In 2009 with the Mallards, Hicks hit .273 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 35 games.
Another former Mallards catcher in Matt Pagnozzi is hitting .357 with four RBIs in 14 at-bats for the Atlanta Braves this spring. The 6’2″ catcher reached the majors in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies, but never recorded more than 39 at-bats in a season.
He caught for the Mallards during the 2002 season and hit .177 with six RBIs in 113 at-bats.
Rafael Lopez and Kyle Gaedele, both members of the 2010 Mallards, have also seen action this spring training.
Lopez, who hit .344 with four home runs and 30 RBIs for the Mallards in 2010, has one hit—a double—in nine at-bats for the Chicago Cubs this spring.
Gaedele hit .315 with nine home runs and 38 RBIs for the Mallards in 2010 and is 1-for-2 with the San Diego Padres this spring.
The Mallards will host their season opener against the Eau Claire Express on Wednesday, May 29th at 7:05 pm at the “Duck Pond.” Single-game tickets will go on sale Saturday, April 27th.
The Madison Mallards are part of the 16-team Northwoods League. The Northwoods League has more teams, plays more games, and draws more fans than any other Summer Collegiate Baseball League in North America. In 2013, the Northwoods League will celebrate its 20th season.