New Voice Finishes First Year as Lead Broadcaster

By Matt DeVries

Working in minor league baseball can be a little unusual. For instance, I doubt Vin Scully has a mascot visit him in his radio booth very much. That wasn’t the case for first-year Great Lakes Loons radio broadcaster Chris Vosters during the 2015 season.

The Loons qualified for the Midwest League Playoffs by finishing in second place during the first half of the season with a 38-30 record. However, they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

It was a rollecoaster year of sorts for the Loons that saw the first three home games of the season wiped out due to a field malfunction, the high of clinching a playoff spot and the ultimate end of your season.

Turns out, it was quite the up-and-down year for Vosters, as well, with him joining the Loons and ESPN 100.9-FM (WLUN) as the team’s second play-by-play broadcaster in its history.

“I wasn’t nervous or worried about anything, maybe there were some jitters going into the season because it was my first time as a No. 1 broadcaster, but it was very much an excited energy more than anything,” Vosters said. “I was very excited to get my first game under my belt and I’ll never forget that. It was down in West Michigan at Fifth Third Ballpark.

“It was also a crazy way to start the season because of losing the first three games of the season. I just had to laugh when it was happening because I had been waiting all winter to step into this role and get started with the baseball season. There was something telling me to just be patient and relax a little bit.”

Chris Vosters calls a game against the Burlington Bees at Dow Diamond on Saturday, June 6, 2015. (Amanda Ray / Great Lakes Loons)

Chris Vosters calls a game  against the Burlington Bees at Dow Diamond in the ESPN 100.9-FM radio booth on Saturday, June 6, 2015. (Amanda Ray / Great Lakes Loons)

One of the big reasons the Loons made the playoffs was thanks in large part to a string of games towards the end of May and into the early part of June that saw the Loons catch fire and take the MWL Eastern Division by storm.

“The highlight of the season was definitely when the team won 10 (games) in a row to tie a franchise record, and ultimately 15 of 16 for that stretch,” Vosters said. “It was cool to see it happen and the turning point was in a game against Fort Wayne. There was a disputed call involving a baserunner at second base and (Loons) field manager Luis Matos was ejected. I think that served as the catalyst for the rest of the first half of the season.

“The on-field performance was great, but it was also cool to see how the team gelled both on and off the field. It gave me an appreciation for how many little things go in to a team coming together to collectively achieve a goal, in this case, winning a baseball game.

One of the many beautiful nights at Dow Diamond during the 2015 season. (Amanda Ray / Great Lakes Loons)

One of the many beautiful nights at Dow Diamond during the 2015 season. (Amanda Ray / Great Lakes Loons)

“It was the timing of the year, too. The weather was finally starting to get warm, there were some good crowds at the ballpark, it just felt like there was a lot of promise in the air.”

Vosters found his way to Midland, Mich., after a few stops in broadcasting. Upon graduating from the University of Wisconsin, where he was the Sports Director of WSUM-FM 91.7, Chris spent two seasons in the collegiate summer Northwoods Baseball League, where he got both play-by-play and hosting experience.

He then spent the 2014 baseball season as the No. 2 play-by-play voice of the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders working alongside Alex Vispoli. Before making the leap over Lake Michigan, he spent time at 620 WTMJ in Milwaukee doing high school sports.

Vosters, pictured center, during his time with 620 WTMJ in Milwaukee alongisde his “Preps Live” colleagues Matt Menzl and Matt Salmon. (Photo from

Vosters, pictured center, during his time with 620 WTMJ in Milwaukee alongisde his “Preps Live” colleagues Matt Menzl and Matt Salmon. (Photo from

“I think because it was my first time going through everything, I treated every day as a new experience,” Vosters said. “Of course, there are bumps and bruises along the way like the couple of times when we would become disconnected and dropped our signal on the road.

“But in hindsight, it really wasn’t a big deal. We were able to get every single game on the air and almost all in their entirety, whenever we dropped it was never for very long. I feel very good about the product that we put on the air.”

The transition from providing support throughout the day and receiving limited repetitions each night calling baseball games, to running your own show and being the lead broadcaster for a 140-game season can be both time-consuming and strenuous.

“I learned a lot about how to carry a broadcast for a whole nine innings as opposed to coming on for three innings in a relief role, you might say, as a No. 2 broadcaster,” Vosters said. “I think I gained a better feel for the ebb and flow of a game of baseball and learned to relax a little bit and have fun with the game.

“I think you learn that every game, there are similarities, but every game is different. So don’t go into it with a mindset of this is how I want the game to go; I want to talk about this in this inning, just react to the game and pick your spots when it might be a good moment to weave in a good storyline or a fun fact about a player. Also, know the moments when it’s okay to step back and let the game call itself and let the crowd and the excitement from the crowd tell the story.”

While seasons can tend to drag on, especially in the dog days of mid/late-July, there are bright spots with the job of broadcaster in minor league baseball.

“One of the fun things is every ballpark is different,” Vosters said. “Bowling Green, for instance, you’re along the third base line which, quite frankly, is difficult to adjust to. When you have the vantage point like you have here at Dow Diamond, you can get better reads on fly balls and you can just see the game play out in front of you. Even just the way the sound of the game seems to slowly roll up and rises towards and embraces you.

“In places like South Bend and Kane County, you’re at the top of a seating bowl and you’re basically embedded in the action. That’s a cool perspective because you can really see the breaks on pitches and get a good idea for a strike zone and really kind of see the way the ball spins. And you can get a much better view of ball and strikes. You really feel like you’re in the game, almost like you’re calling the game from the dugout or right behind home plate.”

The unique thing about the Loons job that sets itself apart from nearly every other broadcasting job in minor league baseball is it is a full-time, year-round broadcasting/radio job. Along with maintaining the programming on WLUN during the calendar year, when MWL baseball isn’t on the air, Vosters can be heard describing some of the best high school action in Mid-Michigan. It has both benefits and drawbacks.

“Haven’t had a lot of time to digest everything just with flying right into high school football season, but I was really grateful through the season for the support I had from the Loons staff and from people in the community with the feedback that I got,” Vosters said. “It’s much more gratifying to look back and see how much I improved over the course of the season by relaxing and trusting that I would get better simply by calling 140 games over the course of a season.”

“Lots of room to improve for me fundamentally and mechanically, my knowledge of the game, all of those things need to get better. But it’s exciting to look back at last baseball season and see how much more I know now than I did even just a short time ago and being able to project that same progress and growth forward for another baseball season. It’s very exciting and more than anything a lot of fun.”

How the Loons Fared During the 2015 MLB Season

Clayton Kershaw (2007, Dodgers)

What more can be said about arguably the best player ever to put on a Loons uniform. Kershaw had another stellar year on the mound for the Dodgers and was a horse when they needed him to be. Since 2011, the left-hander has thrown 20 complete games, 10 of which were shutouts. He’s also either led, or tied for the National League-lead in complete games each of the last two seasons. He did have his highest ERA since 2012 (2.53) this season, but has had a sub-3.00 ERA since 2008, his first season in the MLB.

clayton kershaw stats

Along with his wife Ellen, Clayton founded Kershaw’s Challenge, a Christ-centered, others-focused organization, in 2011. This past summer, they hosted the third annual #PingPong4Purpose fundraising event at Dodger Stadium. It’s a celebrity ping pong tournament that includes blue carpet interviews, social ping pong games, high-end silent auction and more. Dodger players, corporate VIPs, local athletes and notable media outlets all attended the event. In 2014, it raised over $250,000.

Dee Gordon (2009, Marlins)

The 27-year-old second baseman in Miami led the MLB in hits (205) and stolen bases (58) in his first year with the Marlins. Gordon needed three hits on the last day of the season to edge past Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper for the batting title. He hit a career-best .333/.359/.418 atop the Miami lineup this season. The son of longtime major leaguer Tom Gordon, Dee was a National League All-Star selection for the second consecutive year.

Joc Pederson (2011, Dodgers)

Pederson was part of one of the most memorable MLB Home Run Derby contests in recent memory. Now, it was mostly due to the fact that Todd Frazier, playing in front of his hometown Cincinnati Reds crowd, was putting on an absolute show. But, Pederson hung with him till the very end, forcing Frazier to hit a walk-off winner in the final round to win 15-14.

But, the best moment of the night might have been when Joc’s brother Champ got the chance to meet his favorite player Albert Pujols during the derby.

Joc was selected to the NL All-Star Team for the first time in his career, but faded towards the end of the regular season. He was picked for the Dodgers postseason roster, but finished the 2015 season with a .210 batting average, 26 home runs and 54 runs batted in.

Nate Eovaldi (2009, Yankees)

What a turnaround. Eovaldi went a dismal 6-14 in 2014 with the Marlins. Then December 19, 2014 came and Eovaldi was traded to the New York Yankees. In 27 starts in the Bronx, the right-hander went 14-3, by far his best season in the MLB. In 2+ seasons with Miami, Eovaldi went 13-27. The trade that brought him to Yankee Stadium saw the Marlins send Eovaldi, RF Garrett Jones and RHP Domingo German to the Yankees for RHP David Phelps and 3B Martin Prado.

nate eovaldi stats

Kenley Jansen (2007-08, Dodgers)

The 2015 season was Jansen’s fourth full campaign as the closer at Chavez Ravine. Once again, the one-time catcher for the Loons was as reliable as any closer in baseball with the Dodgers converting 36-of-38 save opportunities. Since making his major-league debut in 2010 with Los Angeles, he’s converted 88.2% of his save situations (142-of-161). More recently over the last two seasons, Jansen has ranked in the Top 10 in saves in the MLB. Of course, Kenley enters games with the recognizable California Love by 2Pac blaring at Dodger Stadium.

Shawn Tolleson (2011, Rangers)

Amid his joy of signing with his hometown Texas Rangers, Allen High product Shawn Tolleson heeded warnings of potential drawbacks. Ticket requests. Time demands. Distractions. Turns out, the homecoming has been a continuous, and needed, embrace. Tolleson, 27, returned the hug by literally saving the Rangers in their unexpected run to the playoffs, which begin Thursday in Toronto. Tolleson replaced Neftali Feliz as Texas’ closer in mid-May. For the rest of the season, he notched the most saves (35) and the highest save percentage (94.6) in the major leagues as Texas rallied to win the AL West Division. – Excerpt from an October 7 article by Dallas Morning News reporter Brad Townsend

Corey Seager (2013, Dodgers)

Man, they sure do grow up fast. Just two seasons ago, Seager was plying his trade at shortstop at Dow Diamond. This September/October, he was playing on national television in front of capacity crowds at Dodger Stadium, BATTING 3RD in the lineup. He’s truly a special talent with an effortless look to him in the field and as smooth a swing as they come at the plate. After being named a Baseball America Minor League All-Star in the Pacific Coast League, he was a September call-up for Los Angeles. Upon joining the big club he hit .337/.425/.561 with four home runs and 17 RBI in under 100 at-bats. There’s also a lot to be said of the fact that Dodgers management handed Seager the No. 5 upon joining the team. It’s not every day you get called up from the minors and get a single-digit number.

new corey seager career

Carlos Santana (2007, Indians)

Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana looks to the bench during the second inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit, Sunday, June 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana looks to the bench during a game against the Tigers in 2013. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Santana has never been a guy who’s going to hit for a high average. But, he’s always been counted on to provide some pop in the Cleveland Indians lineup. He was able to provide that in 2015 as he hit 19 home runs and tied a career-high in runs batted in with 85 (also in 2014). On the flip side, he didn’t hit much for average turning in a paltry .231, tying the lowest mark of his career (also 2014). His durability will not be questioned, however, as he’s played 143 games or more each of his five seasons in the majors, including 154 this past year.

Pedro Baez (2010, Dodgers)

After getting called up from then Dodgers Triple-A affiliate the Albuquerque Isotopes in August 2014, Baez stuck in the L.A. bullpen. He appeared in 52 games this season and two games in the NLDS against the New York Mets. The 27-year-old right-hander was 4-2 with a 3.35 ERA and consistently averaged 97 mph and up with his four-seam fastball. Baez also had a 10.6 K/9 ratio in the Dodger blue this season.

Scott Van Slyke (2007-08, D0dgers)

In 96 games with the Dodgers this season, Van Slyke hit .239 with six home runs and 30 RBI. He’s spent parts of four seasons with the Dodgers since making his debut in May 2012. Him and outfielder Yasiel Puig seem to get along pretty well, too.

Yasiel Puig

Carlos Frias (2013, Dodgers)

Frias, who worked almost exclusively in the minors as a starting pitcher, found himself thrust into a reliever role when he joined the MLB club late in the 2014 season. Fast forword to 2015 and due to some injuries in the starting rotation, 13 of his 17 appearances were starts. Frias was 5-5 with a 4.06 ERA in 77 2/3 innings pitched. His strikeout numbers were low (4.99 K/9) and his opponent’s batting average was higher than you’d like (.297). But, in a fill-in role, Frias performed admirably.

Paco Rodriguez (2012, Dodgers/Braves)

Left elbow strain caused Rodriguez a lot of discomfort this season, forcing him onto the 15-day disabled list in May and then the 60-day disabled list in early July. When the trade deadline came, the lefty, along with another former Loon in Zack Bird, were traded to the Atlanta Braves. In total, Rodriguez appeared in 18 games for the Dodgers prior to being traded, compiling a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings pitched. On October 2, it was reported that Rodriguez underwent Tommy John surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews.

paco rodriguez trade

Jerry Sands (2009-10, Indians)

When he made his debut in 2011 with the Dodgers, he had what would amount to be career-highs in nearly every statistical category. For the next three seasons, Sands would struggle to find regular playing time at the big league level. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in October 2012; traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in December 2012; claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Rays in December 2013; and signed as a free agent by the Cleveland Indians in December 2014. From 2012-2014, Sands played in just 19 games in the majors. This past season, he saw the most action at that level since 2011 playing in 50 games for the Indians and hitting .236 with four home runs and driving in 19 runs.

Loons fans, however, will likely always remember him for this…

Darnell Sweeney (2012, Phillies)

When Chase Utley was acquired by the Dodgers in August, that meant RHP John Richy was headed to the East Coast. So was Sweeney. Upon his arrival, his contract was selected from Triple-A by the Phillies and he played in 37 games getting 85 at-bats. With 14 of those games including pinch-hit duty, Sweeney didn’t find regular playing time until the calendar turned to September. For the season, Sweeney hit .176 with three home runs and 11 RBI.

Allen Webster (2010, Diamondbacks)

Back and forth Webster went between the Triple-A Reno Aces and Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015. After being traded from the Dodgers to the Red Sox in 2012, the right-hander was apart of the deal between Boston and Arizona in December 2014 that sent LHP Wade Miley to the Red Sox in exchange for Webster, RHP Rubby De La Rosa and SS Raymel Flores. Webster appeared in nine games for the Dbacks, five of which were starts, compiling a 1-1 record in 2015.

Scott Schebler (2012, Dodgers)

Schebler followed suit and spent his 2015 season splitting time between Triple-A Oklahoma City and the Dodgers. He was summoned from the Triple-A Dodgers on three separation occasions throughout the season. Combined, he played in 140 games and hit .241 (113-for-468) with 16 home runs and 54 RBI. He was also named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Week for the week of June 22.

Zach Lee (2011, Dodgers)

Zach Lee was asked how he’ll remember his Major League debut. “Bittersweet is probably the best word to describe it,” said Lee, who suffered the loss in the Mets’ 15-2 rout of the Dodgers on Saturday night at Citi Field. “It’s great to come up here, but unfortunately it was not a very good outing to hang your hat on.” The former LSU quarterback recruit was charged with seven runs on 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings. – Excerpt from an article by’s Ken Gurnick

After that game, Lee was optioned back to Triple-A Oklahoma City and did not make another appearance for the Dodgers in 2015.

Playoff Baseball in Midland Once Again

Come September 9, playoff baseball will return to Midland. The Great Lakes Loons secured a spot in the Midwest League Playoffs back on June 20, the second-to-last day of the 1st half. With a record of 38-29, the Loons locked up a spot in the 1st half for the second time and the fourth time in franchise history (2009, 2010 and 2013).

Capture 2

Going into that night’s action, one spot remained up for grabs in the Eastern Division. The Loons held a two game lead over Lake County for the slot with two games to play.

The Captains dropped a 9-8 decision to the Dayton Dragons and could not make up any ground on the Loons in the standings. Trailing the Loons by two games with one remaining, the Captains were eliminated from contention.

News of Lake County’s defeat rendered the results of the Loons’ game that night against the Lansing Lugnuts largely irrelevant. Had Lake County prevailed, the Loons would have needed a win or a Lake County loss the next day to clinch. The results removed what could have been a drama-filled Father’s Day for the Loons against Lansing’s powerful lineup.

Now the Loons are set to face the Lansing Lugnuts, a team they have never faced in their previous appearances in the postseason. With new memories to be made this fall, let’s take a trip down memory lane and remind everyone just how things felt those few short years ago.

September 9, 2009: The Loons defeat the West Michigan Whitecaps 7-2 at Dow Diamond in the first playoff game in franchise history. The Loons defeated the Whitecaps in the series.

September 12, 2009: The Loons defeated the Fort Wayne TinCaps, 11-10, in Game 1 of the MWL Eastern Division Championship in one of the most memorable games in team history. The Loons rallied from behind to tie the score four times — including once on a three-run, ninth-inning home run by Jaime Pedroza. The Loons took their first lead on a game-winning, 11th-inning single by Jerry Sands.

September 14, 2009:  The Loons are eliminated by the eventual league champion in a thrilling three-game series two days later.

June 16, 2010: Loons clinched a first-half playoff berth with a 4-3 win over South Bend, securing a spot in the Midwest League playoffs for the second straight season.

September 6, 2010: The Loons wrap up the 2010 regular season with a 90-49 mark, the best record in Minor League Baseball and the only team to win 90 games in the Minors in 2010. The Loons were named the Baseball America Low-A Team of the Year. That year, the Loons knocked off Fort Wayne in Round 1 of the playoffs (2-1) before falling to eventual-champion Lake County (2-1).

June 19, 2011: On the last day of the first half of the season, the Loons lose 5-0 to Fort Wayne while Lansing wins 8-2 at Dayton. The Loons finish the first half in a virtual tie with Lansing but the Lugnuts clinch the playoffs with a better winning percentage by .002 despite the fact that the Loons won more games (39 vs. 38).

September 5, 2011: The Loons lost 5-3 to South Bend to finish the regular season 72-67, the Loons’ third straight season with a winning record but miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

September 4, 2013: The Loons begin their third playoff appearance after a remarkable turnaround season. Following a 27-43 first half, Great Lakes captured the second half Eastern Division wildcard with a 40-29 mark. The Loons were swept in a best-of-three series by South Bend.

The Loons are back in the playoffs and will be looking to leave the Bowling Green Hot Rods and Dayton Dragons behind as the only teams who have not won a Midwest League Championship.

Capture 3

So make sure you join us at Dow Diamond for what we all hope is the beginning of a special few weeks in Loons history! It’d be pretty great to see you!

that'd be great office space

Baseball and Italy — A Match Made in Heaven


By Neil Rosan @neilandsports

Federico Celli has always been a baseball player.

Despite growing up in the soccer crazed nation of Italy, the right-handed, lanky left fielder found a love for America’s pastime between matches of footy and volleyball starting at a very young age.

“When I was eight years old, my father brought me to a baseball stadium and wanted me to try this new sport,” the Rimini native said. “He played when he was 18 years old and thought I would like to try it. After the first day, I was in love with the sport. I just wanted to play.”

His father’s experiment would pay off, as Celli’s play started to grab the attention of baseball experts a few years later.

“After a few years some scouts came to me and asked me if I had ever heard about pro baseball,” he said. “I thought it would be interesting, so I started to play harder.”


Federico Celli slides in for a triple against the South Bend Cubs at Dow Diamond. Celli was promoted from extended spring training on June 11, 2015. (Amanda Ray / Great Lakes Loons)

His father may have been the reason he started playing baseball, but Celli started finding inspiration for professionals in America. A certain shortstop playing in the Bronx caught the young Italian’s eye in the mid-2000’s.

“I always liked Derek Jeter,” he said. “I was like he is the hero. He is the man.”

Since Celli’s first game for Great Lakes on June 12, he has been one of the heroes for the Loons.

The Italian is batting .269 with a .300 on base percentage. In 37 games, Celli has driven in 13 runs and scored 15 of his own. Defensively, the left fielder has committed 3 errors and recorded 2 outfield assists this season.

Needless to say, Celli has adjusted to the American game.

“Baseball is all about timing,” he said. “You need to take at bats every day and soon your eye is going to recognize pitches better. I wasn’t struggling at the beginning, but I have gotten better.”

The baseball wasn’t the only thing Celli had to get used to. The American style of food has started to grow on him as well.

“There is nothing wrong with American food,” Celli said with laugh. “It’s just different. It tastes good. I still eat it.”


A little fun in the dugout never hurt anyone. (Amanda Ray / Great Lakes Loons)

Fitting in with his teammates has also never been in question with Celli. Even though he is the only European in the clubhouse, he insists that he has fit right in, though he may have to book a few more plane tickets the next time he
goes home.

“All my teammates say I need to bring them back with me one day.”

Celli has set a high standard of play for himself, so it looks like he won’t be going home for good for a long time as he continues to blaze a trail for future European talent.

No matter where Celli ends up in baseball, maybe one day there will be another young Italian playing in the minor leagues that will cite Celli as his personal hero. But until then, he is focused on the present.

“This is the first step,” Celli said. “I don’t want my mind to get too big.”

#LoonsTakePeoria for MWL All-Star Game

A long car ride culminating with a visit to the wrong hotel; that’s how the trip to the 2015 Midwest League All-Star Game in Peoria, Ill., kicked off. But, the annual trip for some of the Great Lakes Loons staff and players ended up being a major success.

“The River City” provided the locale for the mid-summer classic for the first time since 2005. Before all-stars Michael Ahmed, Grant Holmes and J.D. Underwood were able to hit the road for central Illinois, the boys had to pack up after the 1st half of the season wrapped up.

The trio concluded a successful 68-game stretch that produced the first playoff berth for the franchise since 2013 and the 4th in team history. In the three instances prior to the current season (2009, 2010, 2013), the Loons have reached the Eastern Division Championship twice, falling to the Fort Wayne TinCaps and Lake County Captains in back-to-back seasons.

From Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing, Mich., an infielder and two pitchers squeezed into the backseat of a SUV rental and hit the road for the supposed 5-hour, 13-minute trek for Dozer Park, home of the Peoria Chiefs. However, just as in Michigan, construction proved to have a say in proceedings and delay the arrival of the convoy. Upon pulling in to a Courtyard by Marriott, the group was informed that they were at the wrong hotel. Whether communications manager Matt DeVries or production manager Trent Elliott were at fault, remains a mystery. A short trip back downtown saw everyone get where they needed to be.

After a good night’s sleep, Monday was a day where Ahmed, Holmes and Underwood visited the local zoo and attended the dinner party held for MWL players and staff, while Matt and Trent decided to see what the great city of Peoria had to offer.

Tuesday was gameday: Eastern Division All-Stars vs Western Division All-Stars. But, before the festivities at the stadium could take place, some official business needed to be taken care of.

Longtime league president George Spelius gave so much to the sport and the Midwest League during his 28 years in the big chair. His name is now on the trophy that will be awarded to the league champion each September.

To the ballpark. Players arrived in the early afternoon in preparation for that night’s game. After some catch, stretching and batting practice, the home run derby kicked things off. However, the Chiefs decided to give it a little twist. Players would be hitting from directly in front of the centerfield wall towards the seating bowl behind home plate. Some players took this opportunity to freshen up on their selfie skills.

#Repost @robbyrow12 with @repostapp. ・・・ #InstaChiefs #MWL #AllStarGame #TheSandbar homerun derby

A photo posted by peoria chiefs (@peoriachiefs) on Jun 23, 2015 at 6:25pm PDT


Prior to the game getting started, fans familiar with hockey were treated to a rousing performance from Chicago Blackhawks national anthem singer Jim Cornelison.

2015 #MWLASG #ChicagoBlackhawks Jim Cornelison sang the National Anthem

A photo posted by peoria chiefs (@peoriachiefs) on Jun 24, 2015 at 8:45am PDT


The game would see all three representatives from the Loons participate in the contest for East manager Shaun Larkin, however none were in the starting lineup.

Grant Holmes was the first to appear as he entered the game to start the 5th inning on the mound. Oscar Mercado was set down on strikes by Holmes and Colin Bray lined out to East shortstop Gleyber Torres. That would be it for him.

Next to enter the ballgame would be Michael Ahmed as a defensive replacement at third base to start the 6th. He finished the night 1-for-2 at the plate including a run-scoring single in the 9th.

The final debut came from J.D. Underwood in the 7th inning when he entered to face one batter, Yairo Munoz. The right-hander proceeded to record the strikeout to end the inning.

For everyone who couldn’t make the trip, there were a few different ways you could have caught the action.

A great trip all around for the Great Lakes Loons players and staff, along with a 5-0 win for the East to cap things off!


Mmm…craft beer!

Breweries are taking center stage this summer at Dow Diamond! If you’re a fan of craft beer, or have wanted to try something new, there’s going to be plenty of chances for you to do just that!


It all starts with the Loons Beer Tasting Extravaganza Friday, June 5th. You can sample beers from Michigan’s own Latitude 42 Brewing Company and Griffin Claw Brewing Company.

Located in Portage, Mich., Latitude 42 sport numerous award-winning brews and offer the ever-popular “Mug Club” which, after joining, get customers a t-shirt, logo pint glass, bumper sticker, empty growler and specialty deals only offered to members. Screenshot“We make beer because no one should have to drink swill.”

“When the best brewers in the world have problems, they call us.”

“I’m a brewer at heart.”

Not too shabby from the ole marketing department at Griffin Claw. Dan Rogers is the mastermind behind it all and he started brewing beer in 1992 out in Las Vegas. He’s been honing his craft ever since and has won 19 total medals (gold, silver, bronze) in competitions.

#griffinclaw #beersontap

A photo posted by GRIFFIN CLAW BREWING COMPANY (@griffinclaw) on May 14, 2015 at 2:27pm PDT


On June 5th, you’ll be able to enjoy game day munchies (chips, dip, fries, etc.) and (12) 4 oz. craft beer samples. Contact the Loons ticket office (989-837-2255) to reserve your spot!


Firkin Fridays

We’ll also have Firkin Friday’s on June 26th, July 24th and August 21st! Nothing beats an ice cold beer on a hot summer day, especially a strong and flavorful Michigan brewed craft beer. What better way to appreciate a locally crafted beer then straight from a firkin?

Arcadia Ales – June 26th

Latitude 42 – July 24th

Saugatuck Brewing – August 21st


Arcadia Brewing Company was established in 1996 as a microbrewery specializing in handcrafted British-style ales. In addition to brewing using authentic British equipment, Arcadia uses malted barley straight from England, hops from the Pacific Northwest and Ringwood yeast.


Founded in 2005, Saugatuck Brewing Company has been providing quality craft beer to folks in Southwest Michigan, as well as the entire state for nearly a decade. With live music, the “Pint Club” and the ability to brew your own bear, SBC has become a fixture in the craft beer scene.

You’ll be able to enjoy samples from the firkin and the same beers brewed traditionally to truly appreciate the unique difference. To participate, simply purchase a box or lawn ticket and be sure to arrive at the stadium in time for the tapping at 6 p.m. as samples are very limited.


For more information on all the breweries that will be featured this summer, check all of their social media channels listed below.

Latitude 42 Brewing Company: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Griffin Claw : Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Arcadia Ales: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Saugatuck Brewing: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Hitting Coach Jay Gibbons Mic’d Up

NBC 25 (WEYI) in Flint, Mich., had Great Lakes Loons hitting coach Jay Gibbons mic’d up on May 14 during a School Kids Day game against the Dayton Dragons at Dow Diamond. Check out what goes on in the Loons dugout below!

Dodgers Spring Training Recap

By Chris Vosters / Loons Play-by-Play Broadcaster

Happy to be here. #DodgersST #LoonsBaseball

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My first day at Camelback Ranch was a whirlwind punctuated by the time I spent with Dodgers’ broadcaster Charley Steiner, who graciously agreed to let me peer over his shoulder for much of the day as he prepared for the Dodgers-White Sox game on SportsNet L.A. I took a lot of value from seeing Charley’s approach to a game (even a Spring Training contest) as I prepare for my first full season as a lead broadcaster. I met with Charley at around 10:30 a.m. and peppered him with questions as he filled out his scorebook. I admired how clean and uncluttered it was.

View from the #Dodgers SNLA booth at Camelback Ranch. #LoonsBaseball

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Together we walked out behind the main building down the gravel walkway to batting practice. By now it was after 11 a.m. and crowds had filtered in to glimpse their favorite Dodgers up close and personal. Spring Training is truly one of the most unique fan experiences in the sporting world. Rarely do fans have access to professional athletes, including the superstars, in such an intimate setting. Charley and I followed the same route the players traveled to batting practice, so throngs lined our journey. I could see fans squint at my media pass to see if I was worthy of an autograph request. Let’s just say my hand didn’t cramp up or anything.

At batting practice, I took note of how Charley interacted with players and the coaching staff. He respected their work space (even in the festive air of Spring Training) and maintained a social, but professional relationship with the guys in uniform. Conversation was organic and I saw the level of comfort players and coaches alike had with Charley, which in turn, makes them more willing to share information.

Since the game aired on T.V. in Los Angeles, I watched Charley and his broadcast partner, Orel Hersheiser, shoot their pregame standup and settle into the booth. At Major League yards, broadcast booths can be downright luxurious in terms of size. The setup is a more spartan in Spring Training, but I cherished the behind-the-scenes access. Charley and Orel sat at a bench with monitors on both ends and a camera man just off to the right. Also in the booth was a floor manager of sorts, who kept the broadcast on track. She ensured spots were read, the broadcasters were in position to return from commercial break and passed along notes from the statistician in the booth. I hovered about and snapped photographs, took notes and tried not to impede the process.

Behind the scenes of a #DodgersST broadcast. #LoonsBaseball

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It was fascinating to watch a former pitcher like Orel Hersheiser analyze a baseball game. What a tremendous wealth of knowledge. He stared at his monitor with the utmost focus in a way I would hedge is akin to his approach as a player. For the tremendous amount of knowledge Hersheiser possesses, he knows how to relate that information in a way the fan can digest. I noticed in about the second or third inning how relaxed I was even as I stood tweeting, writing and posting (photos and videos). Charley didn’t make me listen to him announce a baseball game; rather, he gently guided the audience along through a shared experience. I’ll do my best to ensure you feel this same way this season. We are in this together.

Out on the Backfields

On my way. #DodgersST #LoonsBaseball

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With my big league appetite sated, I dove into minor league camp for the next three days of my excursion to Camelback Ranch. It’s worth noting that minor leaguers frequently play in the Major League games on the main field. It provides a good experience and spares the veterans from nine innings in the 90 degree heat. Some former Loons played quite well, such as Jacob Scavuzzo, whom I saw crush a ground-rule double in the aforementioned big league game against the White Sox. That being said, my treks to the backfields easily provided the best chance to saturate myself in the pipeline. Virtually the entire Dodgers’ farm is contained within a few hundred yards.

Heading to the backfields of #DodgersST #LoonsBaseball

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I mentioned the laid-back nature of Spring Training on the Major League side. To visit the backfields is to be interwoven with the fabric of the organization. It’s professional baseball in a Little League atmosphere, and that is pretty awesome. The fields are lined with nothing more than chain-link fence and once the five rows of aluminum bleachers behind home plate fill to capacity, standing-room only takes effect. An imposing watchtower stands like Barad-dur where a concession stand would be.

On a typical day, the minor leaguers would hit the fields around 10 a.m. for position drills and batting practice. Some were quite entertaining to watch. One exercise in particular, in which pitchers practiced fielding grounders and pop flies, divided the group into teams. Naturally, it was quite competitive. After a short break, the players would retake the field shortly after noon in preparation for a 1 p.m. game. In minor league camp, players are assigned to one of four teams: Triple-A, Double-A, High-A and Low-A, but this is not necessarily an indication of their assignment once the regular season begins. At the very least, helped narrow the pool and allowed me to focus on a more select group of players that may wear Loons’ colors this season. Like the majors, the minor league squads scrimmage teams from other complexes. When Double-A and Triple-A play at Camelback Ranch, High-A and Low-A travel and vice versa.


During the games, the area around and behind the backfields is filled with die-hard fans, roving instructors, scouts and lots of players. Most of the players are pitchers who aren’t throwing that day. They hang in packs and have an assigned role during the game, either as batboys or sitting behind home plate with a radar gun to chart pitches. It’s very helpful to have access to pitch speed first-hand, especially when seeing an arm for the first time.

High-A game at Camelback Ranch with #Dodgers farm director Gabe Kapler looking on. #LoonsBaseball

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The Dodgers played the Reds in the first minor league game I attended. After a 15-hit explosion the day before, Low-A Dodgers were more subdued on offense, but loaded the bases in the ninth and won on a walk-off hit-by-pitch. The final score, of course, is irrelevant. Individual performance and development is evaluated closely and many players on the Low-A roster will embark on their first full season of professional baseball after camp. After the game, I met the Loons’ coaching staff for the first time and chatted individually with field manager Luis Matos, pitching coach Glenn Dishman and hitting coach Jay Gibbons. The aftermath of my conversations left me excited for the season. Even at this preliminary stage, without a definitive roster, there seems to be considerable rapport and chemistry among the staff. Matos, a former centerfielder with the Baltimore Orioles hails from Puerto Rico and beneath his easy smile and relaxed demeanor at Spring Training, a feisty personality dwells. Enter Gibbons, a teammate of Matos’ in Baltimore who wrapped up his Major League career with the Dodgers. Both Matos and Gibbons said separately the latter will bring a laid-back counterpunch to the skipper’s coaching style. Dishman is the veteran of the group, the only member with coaching experience. An accomplished pitching coach eases the manager’s burden considerably and Dishman fits the profile perfectly. Loons’ fans may recall Dishman as the first pitching coach in Loons’ history when he presided over a staff that included Clayton Kershaw. The former San Diego Padres’ farmhand has coached at all levels of the minors, most recently Triple-A Albuquerque.

The day after my introduction to the coaching staff, I followed the Single-A side to Goodyear, Arizona for a matchup with the Cleveland Indians A-ballers. I enjoyed seeing another facility. The Indians share Goodyear Ballpark with the Cincinnati Reds, and ironically, the town located just west of Goodyear and Glendale is called Buckeye. Unlike Camelback Ranch, the main field at Goodyear Ballpark is separate from the backfields and team headquarters. The Reds and Indians’ team offices and minor league fields sit about a mile down the road from the main ballpark, which isn’t terrible, decidedly less convenient than the centrality of the Dodgers’ (and the White Sox’) campus. However, the backfields of Goodyear offer and accommodation absent from Camelback: shade. The bleachers behind home plate are sheltered from the sun, which makes a big difference, especially when a Midwest winter deconditions your skin to sunlight. I spent last baseball season in Texas. It’s 90 degrees and up from early May through the end of the season. The sun in Arizona is different. It bites. I don’t mind hot weather; in fact, I enjoy it. But the shade at Goodyear provided a welcome reprieve from the penetrating rays. I heard the temperature reached as high as 97 at one point during my visit. It’s not even April.

The Dodgers’ first-round draft choice in 2014, right-hander Grant Holmes, started on the mound that day at Goodyear and brought some heat of his own. He threw five scoreless innings and I caught up with the native of South Carolina after the game. Holmes acknowledged celebrating his nineteenth birthday at his first Spring Training was a little different because he wasn’t at home. Against the Indians, the bushy-haired Holmes flashed his fastball, changeup and ambiguous breaking ball. A scout told me Holmes’ breaking ball has the chance to develop into a very solid pitch. Coaches call it a slider because it sits in the low 80s, but the pitcher who throws it labels the offering a curveball. Labels become secondary if the pitch strikes hitters out.

#Dodgers prospect Grant Holmes with a curveball K to end the inning and leave the bases full. @greatlakesloons

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The same scout who praised Holmes’ stuff also praised the Dodgers’ second-round selection, Alex Verdugo. An outfielder with a filled-out frame, Verdugo played both ways at Tucson High School. Teams were equally enamored with his pitching and his hit tool in the lead-up to the draft. Verdugo cherishes the opportunity to generate runs on a daily basis and impact the game more than once per rotational cycle. In the two games I saw Verdugo, he tallied a base hit and scored a run each time.

Other prospects I was told to keep my eye on included teenage catcher Julian Leon, who was signed out of Mexico along with Julio Urias, and first baseman Cody Bellinger. Scouts and Dodgers’ personnel rave about Bellinger’s defensive accumen. In my experience, it’s not common to hear of a first baseman heralded so highly for his glove at the Single-A level. One scout told me he could win multiple Gold Gloves.

The minor league side had the day off on Sunday, which only meant they didn’t play a team from another organization. Instead, the Dodgers held an intrasquad scrimmage at Camelback Ranch in the morning with Triple-A versus Double-A on Field D6 and High-A against Low-A on D5. Again, the fields are right next to each other, so it was convenient to view both games. The simultaneous scrimmages became my favorite event. It placed the Single-A roster on one field, and when an inning ended, I turned around watched Julio Urias battle fellow top prospects like Corey Seager and Scott Schebler. A beat writer told me Seager does not enjoy facing Urias. True to form, “El Futuro” induced a fly out and notched a strikeout against the sixth-best prospect in all of baseball. Urias wasn’t invincible however and I saw a couple runs cross on his watch.

Urias vs. Seager ends in a flyout. #Dodgers @greatlakesloons

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I capped off my time on the back diamonds with a few interviews. Gabe Kapler, the Director of Minor League Player Development (a.k.a.: Farm Director), generously took some time to speak with me about his first Spring Training as the point man for the Dodgers’ pipeline. There’s definitely a different feel to camp this year, in the words of players, coaches and media alike. Facial hair is acceptable and players adhere to a closely monitored diet of exclusively organic food. Kapler discredited any role his personal dogma has on his decision-making as it relates to the farm system. It’s a staff-wide effort, he told me, to mold young men into professionals on and off the field. I also had the pleasure of meeting former Loons’ skipper John Shoemaker. “Shoe” will be in the dugout in Ogden this year, but in camp, I saw him spend time with prospects at all levels. Shoemaker recognized my Loons apparel and greeted me with a strong handshake and effusive praise for the Loons and the front office. He remembered many on the front office staff by name over two years after he managed in Great Lakes. Truth be told, my episode with Shoemaker replayed itself in numerous other encounters I had at Camelback Ranch. Scouts, beat reporters, players, fans and members of the Dodgers’ front office offered unsolicited praise not only for the facilities and Dow Diamond, but for the staff and people of Midland as well. I proudly accepted the acclaim and nodded in the affirmative.

Seeing friends

My trip ended in much the same way it began: on a resoundingly positive note. Upon my arrival in Arizona, I drove to Surprise to meet with dear friends from my days as a Broadcast & Media Relations Assistant with the Frisco RoughRiders. The ‘Riders are the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers and the Rangers’ spring training complex is in Surprise, where my friends have pilgrimaged for many years. Fast forward to the final day of my journey when, after the intrasquad scrimmages on Sunday, I headed up to the broadcast booth at Camelback Ranch one more time to shadow a big league production. This time, however, I met a former Loon as well. The Dodgers played the Rangers on the main field and I was fortunate to catch up with Jared Sandler, who occupied the booth at Dow Diamond for over two years. I met Jared while I worked for the RoughRiders and shortly after he left the Loons to return to his hometown of Dallas.

How neat it was to see him on the mic for a Major League Spring Training game! For my final dinner in town, I was treated to a good meal with great company by one of the host families for the Loons. We ate in the Westgate Entertainment district, which is right next to University of Phoenix Stadium. They fit the mold of everyone else I have met in my time with this outfit: generous, hospitable and fun to be around.

With that, my time in the Valley of the Sun came to a conclusion. I owe a huge “Thank You!” to the Great Lakes Loons for sending me out and to the Dodgers for being so accommodating to one of their affiliates. I am so fortunate to be a part of two outstanding organizations. I hope my account of my experiences at Camelback Ranch gets you fired up for baseball season. I can’t wait.

Whether you’re at Dow Diamond this season or tuning into a game from abroad, I look forward to your companionship during the 2015 season. Play ball!


What the Loons’ Opening Day roster could look like

In less than a month, the 2015 version of the Great Lakes Loons will take the field for the first time. The question is: Who will be wearing the uniforms?

Considering that the Opening Day roster won’t be officially announced until a few days before Opening Day, it’s the million-dollar question. At this point, with some snow still on the ground, trying to figure out what that roster will look like involves a lot of guesswork.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t take some educated stabs at it.

For one, there’s going to be a lot turnover from last season. That’s the nature of the beast in the minors, where getting promoted to the next level is nearly as important as taking a breath. Many of last year’s Loons will end up in Rancho Cucamonga, the Dodgers High-A affiliate, or even Double-A Tulsa as the season progresses.

On the other hand, several ’14 Loons could be ’15 Loons. Last season, nine players returned from the 2013 team, as well as three others who played at Dow Diamond in 2012. My hunch is that this year’s Opening Day roster won’t have as many returning “veterans,” but, again, time will tell.

That said, here’s one man’s guess what the Loons roster will look like on April 9, when the 2015 Midwest League season opens at Dow Diamond:


Grant Holmes, RHP This could be fun. Holmes was the Dodgers No. 1 pick in 2014 – he signed for $2,500,000 – and has a fastball that touches the upper-90s. He’s generally ranked behind only blue-chippers Corey Seager, Julio Urias and Joc Pederson among top L.A. prospects , and he struck out 58 batters in 48 1/3 innings during his debut pro season last summer with Rookie-level Ogden. And he’s only 19.

John Richy, RHP Loons fans got a brief glimpse of Richy last August, when he made four starts during the midst of a multi-team playoff chase. A 3rd round draft pick of the Dodgers out of UNLV two months before, Richy had a 1.65 ERA with the Loons while striking out 14 hitters in 16 1/3 innings. His signing bonus with the Dodgers was $534,000.

A.J. Vanegas was a late-season addition to the Loons bullpen in 2014.

A.J. Vanegas was a late-season addition to the Loons bullpen in 2014.

A.J. Vanegas, RHP Like Richy, Vanegas was a late-season addition to the Loons staff after being drafted out of college. He made five appearances for Great Lakes, all in relief and allowed just three hits and no earned runs in 8 1/3 innings. Also like Richy, he starts the ’15 season with the Loons before moving up to Rancho during the summer.

Scott Barlow, RHP Barlow made 21 starts for the Loons last summer and generally gets high ratings among those who evaluate Dodgers prospects, but he still isn’t that far removed from Tommy John surgery which sidelined him for all of 2012. One of the Loons more consistent starters last season, Barlow may get further seasoning in Midland before heading off to Rancho.

Brock Stewart, RHP Stewart, a 6th round pick of the Dodgers in last summer’s draft out of Illinois State University, may be a tad old (22) for Low-A ball, but his pro experience consists of just 17 games in Ogden. His strikeout percentage (28.3) was well above average, and he’s still learning after playing mostly infield in college.

Victor Gonzalez, LHP A 2012 signee out of Mexico, Gonzalez spent last season with Ogden and made 12 starts while going 4-5 with a 6.09 ERA. Was considered one of the Dodgers more promising pitching prospects in 2014.

Jeff Brigham, RHP Brigham made his pro debut with Ogden last summer after being drafted by the Dodgers in the 4th round out of the University of Washington. He made 10 starts for the Raptors, going 0-3 with a 3.58 ERA while striking out 33 hitters in 32 2/3 innings.

Billy Flamion, LHP Flamion has averaged 12 strikeouts per nine innings in his pro career, which includes time in both Ogden and the Arizona Rookie League. He’s also averaged 7.6 walks per nine innings, which helps explain his 1.533 WHIP. If pitching doesn’t work out, Flamion also played the outfield in college.

Trevor Oaks, RHP The Dodgers 7th round pick in ’14, Oaks appeared in 14 games for Ogden and finished 5-2 with a 6.31 ERA. But he was 11-0 with a 1.68 ERA in his final season at Division II Cal Baptist and got a signing bonus of $161,000 from the Dodgers.

J.D. Underwood, RHP The son of a former major league pitcher, Underwood was selected fifth by the Dodgers in the 2013 draft. Spent all of last season with Ogden, where he finished 4-5 with a 6.75 ERA and 1.732 WHIP.

Joe Broussard, RHP An LSU product, Broussard had a solid debut season in Ogden and has a power fastball. He finished 2-2 with a 3.35 ERA with the Raptors while striking out 11 batters per nine innings.

Other possibilities: Bernardo Reyes, Takumi Numata, Lenix Osuna. Carson Baranik.


Julian Leon, C Leon is a player to watch; he’s ranked among the Dodgers Top 20 prospects by all observers, and is coming off of a season in Ogden in which he hit .332 and had 12 home runs and 57 RBI in 63 games. He was signed out of Mexico and made his pro debut in 2013.

Hunter Redman, C Redman was Leon’s backup last season in Ogden and could move with him this season to the Loons. He was an 8th round pick out of Texas Tech and played in 18 games with Ogden, where he hit .239 with a pair of homers and five RBI.

Other possibilities:  John Cannon


Cody Bellinger, 1B The Dodgers signed Bellinger to a $700,000 bonus after drafting him in the 4th round of the 2013 draft. As an 18-year-old last season at Ogden, Bellinger batted .328 with three homers and 34 RBI. Ranked among the Dodgers upper tier of prospects, Bellinger comes from the same high school (Hamilton H.S. in Chandler, Ariz.) that produced Loons alum Malcolm Holland.

Justin Chigbogu, 1B-DH Raw power defines Chigbogu’s game and he showed it by hitting three home runs in 24 games (including one in the home opener) for the Loons to start last season. But after watching his batting average free-fall to .156 while striking out 39 times in 90 at-bats, Chigbogu was sent to Ogden and never returned. He did hit 20 home runs for the Raptors, however. He’ll likely get another crack at Midwest League pitching in ’15.

Tyler Wampler, 2B Wampler was promoted to the Loons in August after starting second baseman Jesmuel Valentin was traded to the Phillies organization. Wampler struggled offensively with the Loons, batting just .071 in 14 games. He was a 17th-round pick of the Dodgers in the ’14 draft out of Indiana State University.

Jimmy Allen, 2B-3B Allen made his pro debut last season with Ogden after being drafted by the Dodgers in the 24th round out of Cal Poly. Primarily a second baseman with the Raptors, Allen batted .271 with 20 RBI in 192 at-bats.

Michael Ahmed, 3B Ahmed was a 20th round pick of the Dodgers in 2013 and has played in the Arizona Rookie League and with Ogden. He’s hit .281 in 335 professional at-bats. His brother, Nick, made his MLB debut last season with Arizona.

Ivan Vela, SS Vela showed plenty of promise at Ogden last summer as he hit .307 to go with a .377 OBP. He played primarily as a shortstop, but also saw time at third base. At 6-foot-3, he’s big for a shortstop, but so is another former Loon, Corey Seager, and he’s doing just fine.

Kelvin Ramos, SS Ramos split time at shortstop with Vela at Ogden after being drafted by the Dodgers in the 14th round, and batted .225 for the Raptors. He stole 30 bases in 52 games during his final season at San Jacinto College North (Texas).

Other possibilities: Melvin Santana, Leo Rodriguez.


Alex Verdugo, OF A potential No. 1 pick as a high school pitcher, Verdugo chose to play outfield in the pros and was the Dodgers second pick behind Holmes in last summer’s draft. In 54 games with Ogden and in the Arizona Rookie League, Verdugo batted .353, drove in 41 runs, and was successful on all 11 of his steal attempts. Keep an eye on this guy.

Jacob Scavuzzo spent most of last season with the Loons.

Jacob Scavuzzo spent most of last season with the Loons, and could return to start the 2015 season.

Jacob Scavuzzo, OF A return visit to Dow Diamond could be in order for Scavuzzo, who spent most the 2014 season with the Loons before a late-season demotion to Ogden. Scavuzzo hit .209 for the Loons in 402 at-bats, but he seemed to get untracked in 14 games at Ogden. His 14 home runs led the Raptors in 2013.

Devan Ahart, OF Ahart is 22 and will likely end up in Rancho at some point this season, but he has only 16 Low-A games on his resume and a refresher with the Loons could be in order. A Detroit native, Ahart batted .304 during his brief stint with Great Lakes – after batting .358 in 48 games with Ogden.

Billy Bereszniewicz, OF Bereszniewicz was the 28th round selection of the Dodgers in last summer’s draft after earning All-American honors at Binghamton University, where he led the conference in batting average, hits, steals and triples. He continued to produce as a first-year pro, as he batted a combined .290 with a .347 OBP for Ogden and the Rookie League Dodgers.

Andrew Godbold, OF Godbold hit three homers in 21 games for Ogden last summer after getting drafted by the Dodgers in the 23rd round of the 2014 draft out of Southeastern Louisiana University. As a senior at SLU, Godbold hit .349 with nine home runs, and went deep against LSU in an NCAA Regional game.

Other possibilities: Theo Alexander, Matt Jones, Colin Hering, Brian Wolfe

Bruce Gunther

“Back to the Future” coming to a ballpark near you – in the future, of course

Here it is, the year 2015, and we’re still without flying cars, power laces and self-drying jackets.

Or, for that matter, automatic dog walkers.

Never mind what the movie trilogy “Back to the Future” told us we’d have by now; clearly our technology has not kept pace with the forward-thinking of its creators. But, hey, we do have Skype, which is kind of like the “phone glasses” the BTF folks showed in its portrayal of 2015 life.

This summer will mark the 30th anniversary of the original “Back to the Future,” which was released in the U.S. on July 3, 1985. We’ll celebrate it at Dow Diamond a day early (Thursday, July 2) with a special “Back to the Future” theme night – a road/promotion not yet taken by the Loons.

But to quote the movie’s very own Doc Brown: “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

A quick word of caution: Don’t try that at home.

And, yes, we’ll have the DeLorean Time Machine on hand for fans to ogle (but not take for a spin). It’s hard to beat a stainless steel car with gull-wing doors and a rear-mounted 2.85 litre engine.

Of course, it will also include the one and only flux capacitor, the core component of the time machine and what makes time travel possible. The flux requires 1.21 gigawatts of electrical power to operate, which is roughly the equivalent of 15 regular jet engines.

In the original movie, the only power source that would enable Marty McFly to return to the future was a lightning bolt capable of 1.21 gigawatts of electricity.

Don’t try that at home, either.

For general baseball purposes, it’s worth noting that McFly inadvertently went back in time to 1955, when there was no Dow Diamond, Great Lakes Loons, or a Midwest League (it was known as the Mississippi-Ohio Valley League) for that matter.

The Dubuque Packers

The Dubuque Packers

For those keeping score, the Dubuque Packers won the ’55 league championship; the next year the circuit became known as the Midwest League.

McFly never made it to Dubuque, of course, but there’s most likely no shortage of resemblances between ’55 Dubuque and the movie’s fictional ’55 Hill Valley.

The movie itself quickly resembled a blockbuster: It was the highest-grossing film of 1985 and earned a 96 percent on the Rotten Tomatoes “Tomatometer” – no small feat. It also spawned two “Back to the Future” sequels, an animated series, theme park ride, video games, and a forthcoming musical.

It’s been ranked as the 10th best science fiction film ever by the American Film Institute, and among the top 100 best movies of all time by Total Film.

Other than that, it was just another 1980s movie. Ahem.

And just a reminder to Loons fans, “Back to the Future Night” is just one of many exciting promotions we’ll have in store for the upcoming season. Stay tuned, as in coming days we’ll announce the 2015 promotions schedule.

Hope to see you at the ballpark!


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