Vermont’s Historic Centennial Field Was Junior’s Last Stop in The Minor Leagues
(Photo credits: ProCards 1988 and the National Baseball Hall of Fame)
Ken Griffey Jr. was immortalized on Sunday July 24, 2016 with his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. In 1988, Griffey spent his most of his final minor league summer at historic Centennial Field as a member of the Vermont Mariners of the Double A Eastern League.
Griffey becomes the second player of Vermont’s Eastern League era (1984-88) to be inducted into the Hall of Fame joining Barry Larkin, a member of the Vermont Reds in 1985, who was inducted in 2012. Ironically both Griffey and Larkin graduated from the same high school, Archbishop Moeller High, in Cincinnati.
Griffey, who spent most of his season in Burlington rehabbing a back injury, played in 17 regular season games and eight postseason for Vermont, the 1988 Eastern League runner-up. It was his last stop in the minor leagues before joining the Seattle Mariners for opening day in 1989.
Vermont’s shortstop most of the 1988 season was 11-time Gold Glove winner Omar Vizquel but he and Griffey never played together in a game at Centennial Field. Vizquel was sent up to Triple A in July before Griffey was activated by Vermont in mid-August.
Click HERE for a story that ran in the 2016 Vermont Lake Monsters Yearbook and the Burlington Free Press on July 24 on Griffey’s summer in Vermont by Bruce Bosley.
See below for Griffey’s induction speech on MLB.TV
BURLINGTON, VT — An old face in a new place returns to Vermont as 2013 catcher Ryan Gorton returns to the Lake Monsters, but now as a pitcher, while outfielder Brett Siddall has also been added to the Vermont roster from the Arizona League Athletics.
Gorton hit .212 (22-for-104) with two doubles, one homer and 4 RBI in 35 games for Vermont during the 2013 season. He then played in 10 games with the Stockton Ports of the California League in 2014 before making the transition to pitcher near the end of 2014.
In 6 games with the Arizona League Athletics this season, Gorton was 0-0 with one save and a 2.45 ERA. He allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits with one walk and nine strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings.
Siddall was taken by Oakland in the 13th round of the 2015 draft out of Canisius College, where he was the MAAC Player of the Year after leading the conference in doubles and homers. The Windsor, Ontario native hit .341 (85-for-249) with 47 runs, 24 doubles, one triple, 12 homers and 63 RBI in 64 games.
The left-handed hitting outfielder started his pro career with the Arizona League Athletics, hitting .342 (25-for-73) with 12 runs, five doubles, three triples, two homers and 13 RBI in 19 games. After going 0-for-1 in three walks in his pro debut on June 20th, Siddall had a 17-game hitting streak before going 0-for-3 with one walk in his final AZL game on July 21st.
By Matt Case
Every Spring, the Oakland Athletics announce the rosters of their five minor league affiliates. And while their Class-A Short-Season team the Vermont Lake Monsters might not see many major leaguers, they are the first professional team for many of their rookies. Though early in the season, Vermont’s standout player through the first 19 games has not been the A’s first, second, or third-round draft pick.
Drafted in the tenth round out of San Diego State, outfielder Steven Pallares leads the Lake Monsters over their first 19 games in runs (12), while also being among its leaders in hits (18), RBIs (8), and batting average (.305). In addition to leading the team, he also ranks eighth in runs in the NY-Penn League.
The solid numbers Pallares has put up early seems to beg the question of how long this 6-foot-2, 185-pound 22-year old will remain in single A baseball.
“Obviously the goal is to play in the big leagues and have a career in the big leagues,” Pallares says, “And this is a stepping stone to getting to that point and everyone’s got to go through this road so it’s about the process and going day-by-day.”
At San Diego State, Pallares lead the Mountain West Conference with 90 hits, as well as leading his Aztecs with a .352 average, 69 runs, 17 doubles, and 15 stolen bases in 64 starts this year. The team, who finished 41-23 on the season, made it to the first round of the College World Series in May in which they went 1-2.
Their one win in the tournament, a 4-3 victory over UC Santa Barbara, was accomplished when Pallares stole home with two outs in the eighth inning and scored the winning run. Using that speed to take risks is something Pallares says is thrilling when the organization you play for applauds that play style.
“In college my coach always gave us [college team] the green light and wanted us to be aggressive and make aggressive mistakes,” Pallares says, “And one thing playing for Oakland is they always talk about making aggressive mistakes and not being passive. And just having that in the back of my mind, knowing that I’m able to do that and have my speed show; that’s something that I like to expose on the field. It’s one of my tools.”
Nine days after falling to USC 12-11 and being eliminated from the College World Series, the Corona, California native was drafted 308th overall out of 1,215 picks.
“It was an unbelievable day to hear your name be called on the TV,” Pallares says, “It’s not just you who’s getting drafted, it’s the whole family. You’re representing a name. It’s definitely a blessing everything that comes with being drafted.”
Recalling the moments he was taken by Oakland, Pallares explains that his regional scout was giving him the news via telephone as his name was being called on television. “He [regional scout] said; “we’re looking to take you in the tenth [round].” We talked money and I said; “Yeah I just want to get drafted and I just want to play.”
Pallares has managed a hit in 12 out of first 16 games he has played this summer for Vermont, with five multi-hit games and currently has at least one hit in four consecutive games. However, in only two of Pallares’ 18 hits has he reached an extra bag. Getting extra base hits is a definite next step the young player says.
“It’s just getting used to swinging the wood [bat] and here [Centennial Field] the grass is pretty thick so anything you hit is just going to die in the grass so obviously the gap to gap power hasn’t been shown yet but I know I got it in me so it’s definitely something I’ve been working on.”
One of the righthanded hitter’s extra-base hits came on June 8th when he drove a pitch out of left Centennial field for a solo home run – his first of the year – and started an eventual 9-4victory over Mahoning Valley. Pallares finished the night 2-for-5 with two runs, three RBIs, and five total bases.
While Pallares hopes to add more doubles, triples, and homers to his rookie season, he is also, as he explains, content on using his hitting ability and speed to get to home plate.
“Getting a base hit isn’t a big deal because I know I always have the opportunity to take second base so hitting doubles is going to come eventually,” number 14 continues, “I’m good with getting on base and helping the team win.”
A week after adding nine players selected in the 2015 MLB Draft by the Oakland Athletics, the Vermont Lake Monsters will welcome eight more 2015 draft picks on Tuesday, including 5th-round pick Kevin Duchene out of the University of Illinois, 6th-rounder Bubba Derby from San Diego State and 8th-rounder Nick Collins from Georgetown University.
Here is a closer look at the eight new Lake Monsters:
KEVIN DUCHENE * Pitcher
5th round of 2015 Draft out of University of Illinois
* 2015 Illinois: 11-2 and 1.75 ERA (18 BB, 88 SO in 102.2 IP) over 15 starts (2nd-team All-American, All-Big 10)
* Illinois Career: 24-4 and 2.11 ERA (63 BB, 191 SO in 238.1 IP) over 3 years (Freshman All-American in 2013)
BUBBA DERBY * Pitcher
6th round of 2015 Draft out of San Diego State
* 2015 SDSU: 8-4 and 3.32 ERA (34 BB, 131 SO in 103.0 IP) in 16 starts … 2-time 1st-team All-Mountan West
* SDSU Career: 20-11, 3.28 ERA (87 BB, 274 SO in 244 IP) … 131 SO in 2014 3rd-most all-time at SDSU (behind Stephen Strasburg’s 195 and 133)
NICK COLLINS * Catcher
8th round of 2015 Draft out of Georgetown University
* 2015 Hoyas: hit .370 (78×211), 34 runs, 15 doubles, 7 homers and 36 RBI in 53 games … Big East Player of Year
* Hoyas Career: hit .352 (203×576), 85 runs, 29 doubles, 12 homers and 104 RBI in 148 games over 3 seasons
SETH BROWN * Infielder
19th round of 2015 Draft out of Lewis-Clark State College
* 2015 Lewis Clark: hit .386 (90×233) with 78 runs, 20 doubles, 2 triples, 23 homers and 82 RBI in 58 games
* 2015 Award: 2nd-team NAIA All-American (led all of NAIA in home runs, 2nd in RBI, 3rd in runs, 9th in hits)
JAMES NAILE * Pitcher
20th round of 2015 Draft out of U. of Alabama-Birmington
* 2015 UAB: 10-4 and 2.63 ERA with 21 BB and 49 SO in 82.2 IP in 19 games (11 starts) … tied team record for wins
* UAB Career: 17-9 and 3.28 ERA with 53 BB and 141 SO in 192.1 IP over 35 games (27 starts) in 2 seasons
ANDREW TOMASOVICH * Pitcher
21st round of 2015 Draft out of Charleston Southern
* 2015 Charleston Southern: 7-7 and 3.09 ERA with 26 walks and 93 strikeouts over 87.1 innings in 15 games
* Charleston Career: 14-15, 2 saves and 3.80 ERA with 60 walks and 177 strikeouts over 210.2 innings in 3 seasons
JORDAN DEVENCENZI * Catcher
26th round of 2015 Draft out of University of Nevada-Reno
* 2015 Nevada: hit .294 (50×170) with 25 runs, 9 doubles, 2 homers and 30 RBI in 48 games for the Wolfpack
* Nevada Career: hit .279 (102×366) with 42 runs, 15 doubles, 3 homers and 55 RBI in 102 games over 2 seasons
JOHN GORMAN * Pitcher
31st round of 2015 Draft out of Boston College
* 2015 BC: 5-4 and 4.44 ERA with 28 walks and 77 strikeouts over 77.0 innings in 14 games (13 starts) for Eagles
* BC Career: 11-17, 6 saves and 4.59 ERA with 89 walks and 207 strikeouts over 237.0 innings in 4 seasons
While the Lake Monsters add eight players, the team also loses five players who are heading back to the Arizona League Athletics: pitchers Jesus Rivas, Jordan Schwartz, Victor Veliz, Tyler Willman and outfielder Robert Martinez.
Nine players taken in the recent Major League Baseball Draft by the Oakland Athletics will be joining the Vermont Lake Monsters over the next couple of days, including second-round pick Mikey White out of the University of Alabama and third-round pick Skye Bolt out of the University of North Carolina.
Here is a closer look at the nine players:
MIKEY WHITE * Infielder
2nd round of 2015 Draft out of University of Alabama
* 2015 Alabama: hit .339 (74×218) with 48 runs, 19 doubles, 6 triples, 4 homers and 35 RBI in 60 games as junior
* Alabama Career: hit .308 (211×685) with 132 runs, 39 doubles, 13 homers and 98 RBI in 184 games over 3 seasons
SKYE BOLT * Outfielder
4th round of 2015 Draft out of University of North Carolina
* 2015 UNC: 3rd-team All-ACC pick, hitting .259 (53×205), 44 runs, 9 doubles, 10 homers and 45 RBI in 56 games
* UNC Career: hit .279 (177×635) with 132 runs, 32 doubles, 20 homers and 128 RBI in 171 games over 3 seasons
KYLE FRIEDRICHS * Pitcher
7th round of 2015 Draft out of Long Beach State University
* 2015 LBSU: 2nd-team All-Big West, going 6-4 with 2.79 ERA with 12 walks and 109 strikeouts over 100.0 innings
* LBSU Career: 13-10, 17 saves and 3.06 ERA over 87 games with 35 walks and 206 strikeouts in 212.0 innings
JARED LYONS * Pitcher
9th round of 2015 Draft out of Liberty University
* 2015 Honors: Louisville Slugger Division 1 All-American (1st in school history) and Big South Pitcher of Year
* 2015 Liberty: 8-2 and 1.99 ERA in 16 games (13 starts) with 22 walks and 100 strikeouts over 99.2 innings
STEVEN PALLARES * Outfielder
10th round of 2015 Draft out of San Diego State University
* 2015 SDSU: hit .352 (90×256) with 69 runs, 17 doubles, 9 homers and 48 RBI in 64 games (had 21-game hit streak)
* SDSU Career: hit .286 (154×539) with 114 runs, 23 doubles, 11 homers and 85 RBI over 167 games in 4 seasons
CHRIS IRIART * Infielder
12th round of 2015 Draft out of University of Houston
* 2015 Houston: hit .302 (70×232) with 46 runs, 14 doubles, 2 triples, 15 homers and 40 RBI over 63 games
* 2015 Awards: 2nd-team AVCA/Rawlings All-Region and 2nd-team All-American Conference selection at 1B
RYAN HOWELL * Infielder
15th round of 2015 Draft out of University of Nevada-Reno
* 2015 Awards: 1st-team All-Mountain West (Wolfpack won league title) and NCBWA District VII Player of Year
* 2015 Season: hit .312 (67×215) with 54 runs, 14 doubles, 17 homers (6th overall in D1) and 65 RBI over 56 games
# HEATH BOWERS * Pitcher
24th round of 2015 Draft out of Campbell University
* 2015 Campbell: 8-5 and 3.19 ERA in 15 starts with 22 walks and 90 strikeouts over 93.0 innings pitched
* Campbell Career: 29-10 and 2.88 ERA in 57 games with 294 strikeouts over 325.1 innings in 4 seasons
EVAN MANARINO * Pitcher
25th round of 2015 Draft out of UC-Irvine
* 2015 UC-Irvine: 7-3 and 3.80 ERA in 16 games (15 starts) with 25 walks and 76 strikeouts over 94.2 innings
* UC-Irvine Career: 11-7, 1 save and 3.34 ERA with 34 walks and 132 strikeouts over 159.0 innings in 2 seasons
The Lake Monsters continue the six-game homestand Saturday and Sunday against the Lowell Spinners, then host the Aberdeen Ironbirds for a three-game series Monday, Tuesday and Wednehsday at 7:05 pm.
Opening Day for is here and the 2015 Vermont Lake Monsters are set to begin their 22nd season in the New York-Penn League against the Lowell Spinners at historic Centennial Field beginning at 7:05 pm. Here are a few notes leading into the opener:
RECORD: The Lake Monsters were 33-43 for each of last 3 seasons … Vermont is 7-14 all-time in season-openers, including 3 straight losses after winning 4 of the previous 5 lidlifters … Lake Monsters are also 10-11 all-time in home openers, losing 2 of last 3 after winning 5 straight home openers 2007-2011 (lost 3-2 to Connecticut in 2015).
LAST SEASON: Vermont finished with a 33-43 overall record for the 3rd straight season … The Lake Monsters began the season 6-4, but lost 8 of next 9 and fell a season-low 13 games under .500 at 17-30 on July 31st … Vermont then went 16-12 for its 1st winning August since 2000 and were 32-39 before losing 4 of its last 5 games to once again finish 33-43 … The Lake Monsters hit .242 as a team with 33 home runs, while pitching staff had a 4.06 ERA (the 2nd-worst in league).
22ND YEAR: Tonight marks the start of the 22nd season of New York-Penn League baseball for the Vermont Lake Monsters … Over the first 21 seasons, Vermont has a 729-848 (.462) overall record and just 2 winnings seasons in last 14 years (2001-14) after 4 winning seasons in first 7 years (1994-2000).
BACK AGAIN: Of the 22 players on the Vermont opening day roster, 10 of them played for the Lake Monsters at some point during the 2014 season … Those 10 players include: pitchers Michael Fagan, Kevin Ferreras, Jonnie Massad, Jesus Rivas, Jordan Schwartz, Lee Sosa, Dominique Vattuone, infielder Gabriel Santana and catcher Seong-min Kim.
DRAFTY: The opening day roster for Vermont includes 5 players taken by Oakland Athletics in the 2013 draft: pitcher Jordan Schwartz (4th-round), infielder Trace Loehr (6th), pitcher Michael Fagan (9th), Tyler Willman (12th) and Derek Beasley (30th) … Roster also includes 4 players taken in 2013 draft: pitcher Dustin Driver (7th-round), Lana Akau (20th), Jonnie Massad (25th) and Dominique Vattuone (32nd) … There are 0 players taken in 2015 draft on opening day roster.
VS. LOWELL: Tonight is 232nd meeting all-time between Vermont and Lowell, the most games for the Lake Monsters vs. any other New York-Penn League team … This is 7th meeting in a season-opener with the Spinners having won 5 of previous 6 with all 5 wins coming in Lowell and Vermont’s only win vs. Lowell in 2010 at Centennial Field.
Burlington, Vt — Day one of the 2015 Vermont Lake Monsters mini-camp is set to begin tonight with 20 players having arrived in Vermont from either Oakland’s Extended Spring Traininng site in Arizona or from the Beloit Snappers of the Midwest League.
10 of the 20 players in town are returning to Vermont after having spent time with the Lake Monsters in 2014. They are pitchers Michael Fagen, Kevin Ferreras, Jon Massad, Jesus Rivas, Jordan Schwartz, Lee Sosa, Dominique Vattuone, Victor Veliz, catcher Seong-min Kim and infielder Gabriel Santana.
Among the new players for Vermont are pitchers Chris Kohler (3rd-round pick in 2013 draft) and Cody Kurz (7th-round in 2012), catcher Lana Akau (20th-round in 2013), infielder Trace Loehr (6th-round in 2014) and outfielder Shawn Duinkerk (free agent signee in 2010).
The team is scheduled to workout at historic Centennial Field under new manager Aaron Nieckula on Tuesday and Wednesday from 6:00-9:00 pm, then Thursday from 1:00-4:00 pm before the Lake Monsters season-opener on Friday night when Vermont hosts the Lowell Spinners at 7:05 pm.
New Manager Excited For 2015 Season
by Bruce Bosley
Embarking on a pair of new challenges this season, Oakland organization veteran Aaron Nieckula takes over the reigns of the Vermont Lake Monsters and brings a wealth of managerial success to Centennial Field this summer. His teams have made six postseason appearances in his first nine years as a minor league skipper capped by Midland winning the Double A Texas League Championship last season.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about Burlington and Vermont from a lot of people with the Athletics. I’m real excited to be there this summer,” said Nieckula, the 15th manager in Vermont’s 22-year New York Penn League history and the third in six seasons as an Oakland affiliate. He takes over the reigns from David Newhan, who joined the Detroit Tigers as their assistant hitting coach.
In addition to managing the Lake Monsters, Nieckula is Oakland’s Minor League Field Coordinator, a new position in the organization. “My basic responsibilities are the on-field schedules for minor league spring training, extended spring training and the fall instructional league,” said Nieckula, who also led a February minor league mini camp for a group of prospects in Mesa, Arizona prior to formal spring training. “It’s a great gig to be able to do both, that I can also manage a team and keep my competitive juices flowing. The two certainly have a number of different opportunities, and I am looking forward to the challenge that it presents.”
After getting the extended spring training program going in Arizona, he has been able to travel around to check in on the other Oakland affiliates before he moves to Vermont in mid-June. Following the New York Penn League season he will head back to Arizona for the instructional league program.
A standout collegiate catcher at Big Ten Illinois, Nieckula was taken in the 22nd round of the 1998 June draft by the A’s and started his career at Southern Oregon (Medford) of the Short Season Northwest League, a club similar to the Lake Monsters. He progressed through the system and also spent the 2002 season in the San Francisco organization, reaching Triple A with Fresno, his last stop as a player.
“When you’re playing, you’re thinking of having a long playing career in the bigs and don’t really think that you can have a big league career in coaching or management,” said Nieckula. “I took a year off from baseball after I was released not knowing what direction I wanted to go. I realized I wanted to stay in the game but was not sure if it was in pro or college ball. I then made a lot of calls and sent my resume to a lot of teams. Keith Lieppman of the A’s responded first and I started as the hitting coach at Kane County in 2004.”
After two seasons as its hitting coach, Nieckula, then age 29, was promoted to manage the Midwest League Cougars for the 2006 season. He led Kane County to a second place divisional finish in the regular season and wins in two postseason series before falling in the final round. Other than the 2009 season at Stockton in the Advanced A California League, he managed the Athletics Midwest League affiliate, Kane County or Burlington (Iowa) for six seasons, five times reaching the playoffs.
He moved on to Double A Midland in the Texas League in 2013 and last year led the RockHounds to the league title defeating Tulsa in an exciting championship series, three games to two after trailing 2-1 after three games. Players for the RockHounds included several former Lake Monsters such as Ryan Dull, Daniel Robertson, Beau Taylor and Chad Oberacker, as well as current members of the big club such as Max Muncy and Billy Burns. It was the first professional championship for Nieckula as a player, coach or manager.
“Everyone wants to win but ultimately its getting players to play better and improve their skills so they can reach the next level,” said Nieckula, “A lot of things have to come together to reach the playoffs. The health of the players and how they commit to the program and develop as a team, on and off the field, are a few of them.
“At short season we have a lot of players new to the organization, players from collegiate programs and some new to playing in the U.S.,” added Nieckula, “The majority are new to pro ball and we have to introduce and facilitate their transition to being a member of the Oakland Athletics. There is not as much statistical analysis or scouting at short season, and the Vermont roster will have a lot of tweaking during the season.
“No matter what level it is, baseball is baseball.”
Along with the 18 former Vermont Lake Monsters who have been on Major League rosters over the first few weeks of the 2015 season, 76 more have begun the season on Minor League Rosters.
49 former Lake Monsters are currently playing with an Oakland Minor League affiliate, including 20 members of the 2015 team, while there are 10 in the Washington Nationals Minor League System and 16 on rosters of other Minor League teams.
Oakland Minor League Affiliates
Triple-A Nashville (0)
Double-A Midland (15) – Jaycob Brugman ’13, Bobby Crocker ’11, Ryan Dull ’12, Seth Frankoff ’11, Kris Hall ’12, Tucker Healy ’12, Ryon Healy ’13, Chris Lamb ’12, Bruce Maxwell ’12, Chad Oberacker ’11, Matt Olson ’12, Tanner Peters ’11, Chad Pinder ’13, Phil Pohl ’12, Bobby Wahl ’13.
Single-A Stockton (19) – Andres Avila ’12, B.J. Boyd ’13, Sam Bragg ’13, Jose Brizuela ’14, Dylan Covey ’13, Kyle Finnegan ’13, Justin Higley ’14, Tyler Hollstegge ’14, Tyler Marincov ’13, John Nogowski ’14, Dillon Overton ’14, Chih Fang Pan ’11, Nick Rickles ’11, Sam Roberts ’12, Michael Soto ’13, J.P. Sportman ’14, Beau Taylor ’11, Lou Trivino ’13, Corey Walter ’14.
Single-A Beloit (15) – Trevor Bayless ’13-14, Joe Bennie ’14, Jose Chavez ’14, Michael Fagan ’14, Trent Gilbert ’14, Daniel Gossett ’14, Brett Graves ’14, Max Kuhn ’14, Junior Mendez ’13, Melvin Mercedes ’13, Corey Miller ’14, Yairo Munoz ’14, Jordan Schwartz ’14, Jose Torres ’13-14, Brett Vertigan ’12 & ’14.
Washington Minor League Affiliates
Triple-A Syracuse (4) – A.J. Cole ’10, Matt Grace ’10 (promoted to Washington on Tuesday), Taylor Jordan ’10, Jason Martinson ’10.
Double-A Harrisburg (4) – Colin Bates ’10, Kevin Keyes ’10, Cole Leonida ’10, Matt Swynenberg ’09-10.
Single-A Potomac (2) – Chris Bostick ’12, John Wooten ’12.
Other Minor League Affiliates
Ryan Buchter ’07 (Triple-A Dodgers), Michael Burgess ’07 (Double-A Orioles), Omar Duran ’11-13 (Double-A Tigers), Ronald Herrera ’13 (Single-A Padres), Destin Hood ’09 (Triple-A Indians, Austin House ’12 (Double-A Rockies), Sean Jamieson ’11 (Double-A Diamondbacks), John Lannan ’08 (Triple-A Rockies), Michael Martinez ’06 (Triple-A Indians), Ryan Mattheus ’10 (Triple-A Angels), Pat McCoy ’08 (Triple-A Orioles), Billy McKinney ’13 (Single-A Cubs), Robbie Ray ’10 (Triple-A Diamondbacks), Daniel Robertson ’12 (Double-A Rays), Nolan Sanburn ’12 (Double-A White Sox), Seth Streich ’12 (Single-A Padres), Michael Ynoa ’12 (Single-A White Sox).
The Lake Monsters will open their 2015 season on June 19th vs. the Lowell Spinners at historic Centennial Field.
BURLINGTON, VT — 2012 Lake Monsters shortstop Addison Russell has been promoted to the Major Leagues with the Chicago Cubs, becoming the 77th former Vermont player to reach the Major Leagues all-time and the first who played with the Lake Monsters as an Oakland Athletics Minor Leaguer, the New York-Penn League team announced today.
Russell was the 11th overall pick in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft and joined the Lake Monsters on August 2nd, going 3-for-4 with a double and solo home run in his debut with Vermont. Russell then went 4-for-5 with a triple two days later in his third game for the Lake Monsters. In 13 total games with Vermont before being promoted to the Burlington Bees of the Midwest League, Russell hit .340 (18-for-53) with nine runs, two doubles, two triples, one homer and seven RBI.
After being traded along with 2013 first-round pick Billy McKinney to the Chicago Cubs last summer, Russell began the 2015 season with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. He was 11-for-37 (.297) with seven runs, two doubles, one homer and seven RBI in nine games for Iowa before being promoted to Chicago for Tuesday’s game at Pittsburgh, where he will start at second base and hit ninth.
Of the 77 former Lake Monsters who have reached the Major Leagues, the first 76 played for Vermont as members of the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals organization. Russell is the first former Lake Monster to reach the Majors after having played for Vermont as a farmhand of the Oakland Athletics, who have been Vermont’s Major League affiliate since 2011. Russell is also the 17th different former Lake Monster on a Major League active roster this season.
Click here to view a complete list of the 77 “Major League Monsters”.