Winnipeg Goldeyes' Fehlandt Lentini is the Independent League stolen base king

07/30/2013 4:51 AM - Devo

Fehlandt Lentini.jpgThe Winnipeg Goldeyes are the kings of the attendance world, and their center fielder is the stolen base king.

You can call Fehlandt Lentini Crash Davis. Davis, who was glorified in Bull Durham, was your typical journeyman minor leaguer who had a cup of coffee in "the show". With so much talent in the game, sometimes it's just not in the cards. In the end Davis became the minor league leader in home runs and rode off into the sunset.

Lentini has been playing professional baseball for over 13 years. Originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 41st round of the 1996 MLB June Amateur Draft from Napa Valley JC, Lentini raised some eyebrows by having one of the greatest seasons in school history.

According to the Napa Valley Register, in 2001 he put together numbers that still stand to this day; batting average (.427), hits (117), doubles (23), triples (10), and runs (89).

He was drafted by the Rangers but eventually signed with the Houston Astros. He spent two years with the "Stros" making up to Double A.

As it is with many players, the Major League dream hit a snag, but Lentini, who stole 73 bases in those three seasons, still had the talent to play. He signed with the Kalamazoo Kings of the Frontier League in 2004 and hasn't looked back since.

Over the years Lentini has been as consistent as they come. With a career .311 batting average and a .357 OBP, he gets on base and makes it count. His powers numbers have also seen a spike in recent years. Last year, playing for the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League, Lentini hit a career high 19 home runs driving in 92, raising his overall slugging percentage to .481.

Always a speedster on the bases, he has been onE of the best. It's never a surprise for Lentini to have over 30 steals at the end of the season, something he has done over six times. Playing for the Goldeyes in 2007, he swiped a personal best 57 bases which contributed to his Independent leading 332 stolen bases. According to the Winnipeg Sun, that pushed him past Bill Hall in to first place, but he hasn't yet fully realized what he accomplished.

"It feels good. I guess maybe it will sink in later," said Lentini, who is taking the third-base bag as a souvenir to bring home with him to California. "I didn't really enjoy it in the moment, I was just pumped to steal the base to give ourselves a chance to score right there. That's what I was keying in on."

It doesn't matter that Lentini didn't become a MLB superstar, he quietly became an Independent League legend. This story may not make the breaking news section of ESPN, but to all the Crash Davis' out there, nothing is better than this.

*Statistics courtesy Baseball Reference*

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

Winnipeg Goldeyes lead the Independent Leagues in attendance

07/28/2013 10:35 AM - Devo

Independent Attendance Numbers.jpgThe upstart Sugar Land Skeeters were the kings of the attendance game in 2012, ranking 19th out of 388 minor league baseball teams according to Ballpark Digest.

Ranked 32, the Winnipeg Goldeyes averaged 5,705 fans per game, nearly 1,000 less than Sugar Land (6,650).

The tides have turned thus far in 2013, but not by much.

Midway through the 2013 season, the Goldeyes are on top of the Independent attendance world averaging 5,811 per game. The Kansas City T-Bones of the American Association are No.2 at 5,702 and the second year Skeeters ranked third with 5,699 per game.

The American Association has four teams in the top ten (Goldeyes, T-Bones, St. Paul Saints, Fargo-Moorehead RedHawks), while the Atlantic League has five in the top ten (Skeeters, Long Island Ducks, Somerset Patriots, Lancaster Barnstormers, York Revolution).

The Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League round out the top ten averaging 3,482.

The Independent Leagues topped the 7,000,000 mark last year. It doesn't appear they will top that number again this year, the "Big 4" (American Association, Atlantic League, Can-Am League, Frontier League), are averaging more per game than in 2011 despite having two less teams in the mix.

Overall, the Atlantic League is averaging more than 4,000 per game and is almost certain to top the 2,000,000 mark again. The American Association, with an Independent League high 14 teams, averages more than 3,000 per game, putting them on pace to surpass the 2,000,000 mark with utmost certainty.

*Attendance numbers courtesy; American Association, Atlantic League, Can-Am League, Frontier League*

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

 

Independent League baseball putting up solid attendance numbers

07/26/2013 4:27 AM - Devo

Independent Attendance Numbers.jpgThe Independent Leagues don't get the same type of press as MLB or MiLB, but it still can draw thousands of fans to each game, while at the same time putting a special project on the field.

The Can-Am League, the lesser-known of the "Big 4", has six teams and averages 1,854 per game. Playing the 2013 season with only five teams compared to 6 in 2012, they are averaging more fans than in 2011, but will more than likely come up short in matching last year's numbers.

The Atlantic League, American Association, and Frontier League are the more established and well-known leagues if you can say that. The Can-Am League has been in existence since 2004, however, the aforementioned three leagues have a stronger reputation for fostering and establishing talent. The Atlantic League can lay claim that over 600 of their players have gone on and signed a professional contract with Major League Baseball.

Atlantic League players are arguably the most talented of the bunch, and also play the longest and most comparable schedule to a MLB organization (140). Over the past three years the Atlantic League is made up of between 8-10 teams and averages over 4,000 per game per team. With the addition of the Sugar Land Skeeters, one of the most popular teams in all of baseball, they nearly topped 2.4 million through the turnstiles in 2012.

The American Association definitely gives the Atlantic League its competition. The ATL has been around longer than anyone (1998), but the American Association consists of five-to-seven more teams per year, resulting in competing attendance numbers. Unfortunately, in 2013 they are averaging nearly 200 less per game than last year, yet are pulling in roughly 177 more fans per game than in 2011 with one less team.

The Indy's don't get the recogintion they deserve, but with solid players, and a solid product, it continues to bring in the fans.

According to David Kronheim's Attendance Analysis, Independent Baseball topped the 7,000,000 mark in 2012, up 297,157 (4.4%). The numbers don't appear to be on a record setting pace this year, regardless, the Indy game is alive and well challenging the norm.

*Attendance numbers courtesy; American Association, Atlantic League, Can-Am League, Frontier League*

 

 

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

Tony Davis is having a standout season for the Dunedin Blue Jays

07/22/2013 4:45 AM - Devo

Tony Davis 4.PNGFlorida Gators, 12th round pick of the Minnesota Twins, standout relief pitcher for the Quebec Capitales, and now an All-Star for the Dunedin Blue Jays.

It's not your conventional route, but Tony Davis is one of literally hundreds of professional players that continue to work 365 days a year hoping to get that call saying they have been promoted to the Major Leagues.

His career got sidetracked after three successful seasons in the Minnesota Twins minor league system where he made it up to New Britain. He had a 2.51 ERA in 44 appearances with the Twins' AA affiliate from 2009 to 2011 (courtesy Baseball Reference).

He was released following the 2011 season, but signed with the Quebec Capitales of the Independent Can-Am League.

That could have been devastating for most, but Davis continued to push through. Used as left-handed specialist out of the bullpen, Davis put together some staggering numbers; 1.06 ERA in 20 games and struck out 16 in 17 innings.

That performance caught the eye of Toronto Blue Jays scouts resulting in a minor league deal prior to the 2013 season. Since, Davis has taken this opportunity and has run with it.

Davis, along with four other Blue Jays (Scott Copeland, Andy Burns, Blake McFarland, & Jesse Hernandez) represented the North Division at the Florida State League All-Star Game.

Tony Davis 5.PNG

At the All-Star break, Davis was as dominant as anyone. According to Our Sports Central, he was holding left-handers to a .150 batting average, with 15 strikeouts and only four walks. Right-handed batters were having their own problems, batting .227 with 21 strikeouts and seven walks.

Post All-Star break, Davis' numbers are even better. In six appearances, he has 11 strikeouts in nine innings, and has a 2.00 ERA while picking up a victory in the process.

In his first season with the Jays, he has a very impressive 4-1 record, and an ERA just over 3.00 (3.06) in 29 appearances. This "submariner" is holding opponents to a .211 batting average with an eye-popping 52 strikeouts in 35 innings (Statistics courtesy MiLB).

Whatever league or class you may be in, Davis is putting up numbers that any organization would be proud of. Now five years into his professional career, he has faced highs and lows, but continues to go about his business with a winning mentality.

"It's amazing what you can do when you feel like you have nothing to lose. I hope I get to see Double A later this summer but either way I'm gonna keep going out there and attacking".

Good things happen to good people. His numbers are proof of that.

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

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