2008 Birmingham Barons

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The 2008 Birmingham Barons opened their 2008 campaign on April 3 with a Thursday-night home game against the Knoxville Smokies. The Barons compete in the South division of the Southern League along with the Jacksonville Suns, Mississippi Braves, Mobile BayBears and Montgomery Biscuits. They play their home games at Regions Park in Hoover. All games are broadcast on WYDE-FM "The Source" and are called by Director of Broadcasting Curt Bloom.

This marks the Baron's 23rd season as the Chicago White Sox AA affiliate, and their 21st year in Hoover. The minor league contract was extended by 4 years to 2010 on July 20, 2006. It is the second season under new owners Don Logan and his sons Jeff and Stan. Jonathan Nelson is the team's general manager. Carlos Subero was announced as the Barons new field manager on January 17, 2008, replacing Rafael Santana who managed for one season.

New for the 2008 season are uniforms with red accents and a solid-red alternate jersey, created as part of the team's new graphic identity. The team's home whites keep their trademark pinstripe while road grays reflect the design of the Negro American League champion 1948 Birmingham Black Barons uniforms. Regions Park also debuted a new 56' x 43' LED video scoreboard constructed by Daktronics, Inc.

Roster

Pitchers

  • Justin Cassell, #20 (10-4 in 28 starts, 3.11 ERA, 104 strikeouts, 57 walks)
  • Kyle McCulloch, #37 (8-11 in 27 starts, 4.65 ERA, 93 strikeouts, 60 walks)
  • Carlos Torres, #2 (9-5 in 21 starts, 3.20 ERA, 93 strikeouts, 29 walks) (promoted to Charlotte July 10 and returned July 17. Sent back up July 21)
  • Aaron Poreda (3-4 in 15 starts, 2.98 ERA, 72 strikeouts, 22 walks) (received from Winston-Salem June 11)
  • Clayton Richard, #33 (6-6 in 13 starts, 2.47 ERA, 53 strikeouts, 16 walks) (promoted to Charlotte June 11)
  • Dewon Day (1-6 in 13 starts, 6.61 ERA, 35 strikeouts, 28 walks) (received from Charlotte June 12)
  • Lucas Harrell #34 (3-3 in 10 starts, 3.46 ERA, 34 strikeouts, 19 walks) (on DL April 21-June 23. Sent to Kannapolis June 23 and returned July 5)
  • Ryan O'Malley (4-3 in 6 starts, 5.32 ERA, 46 strikeouts, 16 walks) (received May 8)
  • Brian Omogrosso, #32 (2-3 in 5 starts, 3.69 ERA, 26 strikeouts, 25 walks) (on DL April 17-23, May 16-29 and June 18-)
  • Esteban Loaiza (0-0 in 1 start, 0.00 ERA, 3 strikeouts, 1 walk) (received from Chicago White Sox for injury rehab July 16)
  • Jack Egbert, #40 (0-0 in 1 start, 2.25 ERA, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk) (received from AAA Charlotte April 18 and transferred back April 22)
  • Bobby Jenks, (0-0 in 1 start, 0.00 ERA, 3 strikeouts, 0 walks) (received from Chicago White Sox for injury rehab July 15-17)
  • Joe Torres, #41 (3-1 in 59 appearances, 2.68 ERA, 58 strikeouts, 31 walks)
  • Jon Link, #25 (5-4 in 56 appearances, 3.02 ERA, 66 strikeouts, 27 walks)
  • John Lujan, #27 (3-2 in 50 appearances, 3.43 ERA, 51 strikeouts, 39 walks)
  • Fernando Hernandez, Jr, #30 (6-5 in 41 appearances, 4.66 ERA, 47 strikeouts, 29 walks) (on DL May 8-18)
  • Derek Rodriguez, #35 (5-1 in 29 appearances, 3.38 ERA, 44 strikeouts, 18 walks) (sent to Charlotte June 12)
  • Ryan Rote (1-1 in 23 appearances, 4.39 ERA, 25 strikeouts, 20 walks) (received from Winston-Salem June 21)
  • Shaun Babula (2-0 in 22 appearances, 5.29 ERA, 24 strikeouts, 13 walks) (received from Charlotte April 22 and released July 18)
  • Kanekoa Texeira #50 (3-2 in 15 appearances, 2.01 ERA, 24 strikeouts, 7 walks) (received from Winston-Salem July 21)
  • Clevelan Santeliz, #7 (0-1 in 10 appearances, 4.41 ERA, 6 strikeouts, 8 walks) (on DL May 6 - June 6, sent to Winston-Salem June 6)
  • Matt Zaleski (0-0 in 5 appearances, 0.00 ERA, 3 strikeouts, 1 walk) (sent to A+ Winston-Salem April 18)
  • Joe Winkelsas (0-0 in 2 appearances, 3.00 ERA, 1 strikeout, no walks) (received from Charlotte May 6. On DL May 18-31. Released on May 31)
  • Eric Hollis (0-0 in 1 appearance, 9.00 ERA, 1 strikeout, 0 walks) - normally a catcher.

Catchers

  • Cole Armstrong, #9 (batted .252 with 27 runs on 55 hits, 6 home runs, 31 RBI. 4 errors) (on DL June 12-19. Transferred to Charlotte June 28)
  • Eric Hollis, #11 (batted .213 with 13 runs on 20 hits, 5 RBI. 4 errors) (on DL April 3-May 9 and May 29-June 12)
  • Erick San Pedro, #14 (batted .198 with 7 runs on 16 hits. 2 errors) (received May 30)
  • Jared Price, #14 (batted .196 with 11 runs on 22 hits, 5 home runs, 7 RBI. 1 error) (sent to Charlotte May 9 and returned July 10)
  • Adam Ricks (batted .000 with 0 runs on 0 hits, 0 home runs, 0 RBI. no errors) (received from WInston-Salem May 29 and sent back May 30)

Infielders

  • 1B Brandon Allen, (batted .275 with 30 runs on 42 hits, 14 home runs, 31 RBI, 3 steals. 2 errors) (received from Winston-Salem July 17)
  • 1B Micah Schnurstein, #50 (batted .218 with 38 runs on 64 hits, 4 home runs, 20 RBI, 8 steals. 6 errors) (released July 16)
  • 1B Freddie Thon, (batted .107 with 1 run on 3 hits, no home runs, 2 RBI, no steals. 1 error)
  • 2B Victor Mercedes, #12 (batted .272 with 57 runs on 113 hits, 12 home runs, 59 RBI, 11 steals. 17 errors) (on DL April 25 - May 7) (placed on temporarily inactive list July 17)
  • 2B Joe Persichina (batted .286 with 2 runs on 6 hits, 2 RBI. No errors) (received from Kannapolis April 25, returned May 8)
  • 2B Robert Hudson, #15 (batted .250 with 28 runs on 80 hits, 1 home run, 28 RBI, 10steals. 8 errors)
  • SS Robert Valido, #8 (batted .222 with 36 runs on 85 hits, 3 home runs, 27 RBI, 18 steals. 27 errors)
  • 3B Javier Castillo, #29 (batted .289 with 60 runs on 112 hits, 8 home runs, 58 RBI, 3 steals. 11 errors) (promoted to Charlotte June 15, returned July 17)
  • 3B C. J. Lang (batted .241 with 17 runs on 19 hits, 1 home run, 10 RBI, 1 steal. 2 errors) (received from Winston-Salem July 18)

Outfielders

  • Miguel Negron, #4 (batted .299 with 72 runs on 142 hits, 7 home runs, 57 RBI, 25 steals)
  • Ricardo Nanita, #23 (batted .286 with 52 runs on 118 hits, 9 home runs, 51 RBI, 14 steals)
  • Stefan Gartrell, #48 (batted .254 with 54 runs on 104 hits, 14 home runs, 52 RBI, 7 steals)
  • David Cook, #24 (batted .313 with 44 runs on 65 hits, 12 home runs, 30 RBI, 8 steals) (promoted to Charlotte June 12)
  • Lee Cruz (batted .274 with 25 runs on 54 hits, 10 home runs, 27 RBI) (received from Kannapolis June 24)
  • Thomas Collaro, #44 (batted .202 with 18 runs on 35 hits, 3 home runs, 19 RBI) (received April 5 from Charlotte, returned May 10)
  • Noah Hall, #17 (batted .252 with 15 runs on 32 hits, 1 home run, 19 RBI, 3 steals) (on DL April 5-May 10, promoted to Charlotte June 23)
  • Javier Colina (batted .216 with 11 runs on 22 hits, 3 home runs, 14 RBI, 2 steals) (received from Winston-Salem June 12, transferred to Charlotte July 17)

Coaches and trainers

Southern League All-Stars

Pitchers Justin Cassell, Carlos Torres, and Jon Link joined outfielders Ricardo Nanita and Miguel Negron on the South Division roster for the 2008 Southern League All-Star Game, played on July 14 in Zebulon, North Carolina, home of the Carolina Mudcats. David Cook was also selected, but was promoted to Charlotte before the game, making him ineligible. Reliever Joe Torres was added later.

Cassel, Torres and Link combined for 1.2 scoreless innings against the North Division. Cassell earned outs from Eric Eymann, Doug Deeds and John Raynor in the second inning. Torres came in in the 8th and retired catcher Adam Moore on a called strike to end the inning. Link finished the game for the South and struck out Deeds swinging. Nanita grounded out in the 8th inning in his only at-bat. Negron grounded out twice, once in the 7th and once to mark the final out of the 6-1 loss for the South Division.

Results (57-43)

April (13-12)

  • 3-7: Won 2 of 5 vs Tennessee Smokies (3-0, 1-2 in 7, 1-5 in 7, 2-5, 2-1), finishing 1 game back in the Southern League's south division
  • 8-12: Won 3 of 5 at Chattanooga Lookouts (6-5, 4-0 in 11, 3-6, 5-3, 4-5), taking a half-game lead in the division
  • 14-18: Won 5 of 5 vs Mississippi Braves (4-2 in 11, 2-1, 2-1, 6-5 in 13, 3-2), taking a 2 game lead
  • 19-23: Won 1 of 5 at West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx (0-3, 2-3. 6-1, 2-15, 4-8), dropping to 1 game ahead
  • 24-28: Won 3 of 5 vs Montgomery Biscuits (4-5, 3-8, 4-2, 4-0, 4-0), retaking a 2 game lead
  • 30: Lost the 1st of a 5 game series vs Mobile BayBears (2-4), dropping back to a 1 game lead

May (19-11)

  • 1-4: Split the remaining 4 games 2-2 vs Mobile (1-4, 4-2, 3-0, 4-8) remaining 1 game ahead
  • 5-9: Won 2 of 5 at Montgomery (1-2, 7-4, 10-16, 3-4 in 7, 9-5 in 7) climbing back to 2 games ahead
  • 10-14: Won 4 of 5 vs West Tennessee (7-2, 3-2, 7-2, 4-2, 1-3) building a 3 game lead
  • 15-19: Won 3 of 5 at Jacksonville Suns (2-6, 4-6, 11-5, 3-2, 13-5) stretching their lead to 4 games
  • 21-25: Won 4 of 5 at Huntsville Stars (6-5 in 10, 8-6, 5-4, 6-11, 6-5) climbing to 5 games ahead
  • 26-30: Won 3 of 5 vs Jacksonville (11-0, 13-3, 2-4, 7-8, 3-0) extending the lead to 6 games
  • 31: Won the 1st of a 5-game series at Mississippi 6-0, jumping up to a 7-game lead

June (14-13)

  • 1-4: Won the next 3 of 4 remaining games at Mississippi (6-0, 7-4, 6-5, 3-4 in 13) dropping to 6 games ahead
  • 5-9: Won 3 of 5 vs Montgomery (3-1, 3-6, 12-4, 2-6, 4-3 in 10) climbing back to a 7-game lead
  • 11-15: Won 2 of 5 at Carolina (7-2, 2-3, 2-5, 2-4, 3-1) dropping to 6 games ahead
First Half Record: 40-30 (1st place with a 6-game lead over Montgomery)
  • 17-22: Won 4 of 6 vs Jacksonville (2-7, 2-1, 5-8, 2-1 in 10, 2-0), starting the 2nd half 1 game back
  • 24-29: Won 2 of 6 at Mississippi (8-5, 0-6, 5-6, 0-4, 1-6, 5-2), dropping to 3 games back
  • 30: Won the 1st of 4 games vs. Mobile (4-3) climbing to 2 games off the lead

July (10-7)

  • 1-3: Won the remaining 3 games vs. Mobile (3-2, 6-2, 3-2), remaining 2 games back
  • 4-7: Won 2 of 4 at Huntsville (1-2 in 10, 5-0, 3-2, 2-9), climbing into a tie for first
  • 8-12: Won 3 of 5 vs. Carolina (6-3, 1-3, 3-4, 9-8, 5-3), dropping back to 1 game back
  • 16-20: Won 2 of 5 at Montgomery (5-7, 3-5, 3-1, 5-3 in 10, 4-6), remaining 1 game back

Notable games

Opening night attracted 6,872 to Regions Park, the biggest opening since 1993 and the third largest in the 21-year history of the stadium. On May 10 the stadium honored Joseph Burgess of Midfield as the 6 millionth fan to attend a game at the park.

The Barons partnered with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Alabama Negro League Association to sponsor a "Tribute to the Negro Leagues" night during their April 15 game against the Mississippi Braves. The Barons wore Birmingham Black Barons caps, which were part of a larger charity auction to benefit the co-sponsors. Several Negro Leagues veterans participated in the event.

The 2008 Rickwood Classic was held on May 28, with the Jacksonville Suns defeating the Barons at Rickwood Field 4-2. The Barons wore throwback uniforms honoring the 1951 and 1952 teams which were affiliated with the Boston Red Sox. Jimmy Piersall, a veteran of those teams, attended. The Suns wore 1967-era uniforms honoring the year Nolan Ryan pitched for Jacksonville.

Clayton Richard's shutout game against Mississippi on May 31 was the first by a Baron since Josh Stewart blanked the Hunstville Stars on August 14, 2002.

Statistics

As of June 3 the Barons were batting .257 with 272 runs and 40 home runs in 1,987 at-bats. The Barons pitchers were a combined 35-25 with a team ERA of 3.58 with 235 runs and 23 home runs allowed. Average home attendance was 4,543 (3rd in the Southern League).