Seeing silver: A pair of former Kane County Cougars have won a 2012 Silver Slugger Award. Detroit Tigers infielder Miguel Cabrera and Minnesota Twins outfielder Josh Willingham were each honored Thursday evening. Cabrera and Willingham both played for the 2001 Cougars Midwest League Championship squad. The Silver Slugger, which was first awarded in 1980, is distributed to the best offensive players at each position in both the American and National Leagues.
Cabrera has now won four Silver Slugger Awards (2005, ’06, ’10, ’12) in his big league career. Cabrera’s 2012 campaign also included the American League Triple Crown – the first Triple Crown in Major League Baseball since 1967. Cabrera was named a Major League All-Star for the seventh time in his career, and is the frontrunner for the American League Most Valuable Player Award, to be announced on Thursday, November 15.
Willingham was recognized with his first-ever Silver Slugger following a career year offensively. The 2012 season was Willingham’s first season as a Twin, and the 33-year old set personal bests with 35 home runs and 110 RBI.
The ’01 Cougars teammates have combined for 488 major league home runs. Add another ’01 Cougars teammate and current major leaguer Adrian Gonzalez to that tally, and the trio have combined for 701 home runs as major leaguers.
Other past Silver Slugger Award winners who played at Kane County include Edgar Renteria (’93), a three-time Silver Slugger in 2000, ’02 and ’03. Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier (’03) won a Silver Slugger in 2009, while Dodgers teammate Adrian Gonzalez (’01) won his first Silver Slugger in 2011.
Good for Red: Former Kane County Cougar Mike Redmond was named manager of the Miami Marlins late last week. Redmond, who played for the Cougars in 1993 and 1994, is the first former Cougars player to be named to a major league managerial post.
Redmond logged a total of 135 games with the Cougars while the organization was affiliated with the Florida Marlins. Some of Redmond’s fellow Cougars during that time who, like Redmond, enjoyed successful big league careers include Edgar Renteria, Charles Johnson and Kevin Millar.
Redmond became the 40th former Cougar to reach the major leagues, debuting with Florida on May 31, 1998. To date, a total of 120 former Cougars have made the major leagues.
Redmond was part of the ’03 Marlins world championship team, along with numerous former Cougars including Miguel Cabrera, Josh Beckett and Dontrelle Willis. In his 13-year playing career, Redmond was a .287 career hitter with 13 home runs and 243 RBI. Redmond managed for two seasons in the minor leagues, including 2011 in the Midwest League with the Lansing Lugnuts. That season, Redmond was named Midwest League Manager of the Year.
A careful glance at Redmond’s baseball card as a Cougar in the early ‘90’s was fairly prophetic. On the reverse side of the card under “scouting report” it’s listed that Redmond “should be a coach when his playing days are over”.
Last week, we posted a scanned photo of the reverse side of Redmond’s trading card. The soothsaying “scouting report” was passed along by us to national media, and the notable fact was mentioned in a few feature stories by SI.com and the Miami Herald.
And of course, it was mentioned by Redmond himself the following day. Check out the 3-minute mark of his introductory press conference.
On the Marks: Among the several former Cougars playing in the Arizona Fall League, pitcher Justin Marks (’10) might be making the most noise.
Marks is a perfect 5-0 for the Surprise Saguaros (Saguaros…that’s a tough one to type for some reason). Marks, although a Royals prospect, was actually an A’s farmhand while here in 2010. Marks was part of a trade sending him from Oakland to Kansas City between 2010 and ’11 that involved another former Cougar, pitcher Vin Mazzaro (’06).
Marks — a third-round selection by the A’s in 2009 — spent most of his 2012 season with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he went 3-5 with a 3.80 ERA in 17 starts. He was named to the Texas League midseason All-Star team.
After returning in mid-August, he was moved to Triple-A Omaha for a playoff push in the latter half of the month. He finished with a 3-6 record and a 4.50 ERA over just 92 innings of work.
Knowing how much the Royals have a need for starting pitching, could Marks be a former Cougar to possibly make his big league debut in 2013? If so, he’d join Oakland pitcher Dan Straily as a starting pitcher from that ’10 Cougars team who has reached the big leagues. Time will tell.
Giving back: Finally, thanks to all of our great fans who have stopped by these last couple of weeks to donate a coat and/or sweatshirt. By rough count, we’ve received nearly 50 of these items, which will be donated to the less fortunate throughout the Chicagoland area before Christmas. Bring by a coat or sweatshirt in these next few weeks, and we’ll give you 4 undated ticket vouchers for a 2013 game. Our office is open from 9-5 Monday through Friday.
As always, thanks for reading! Have a great weekend.