Beloit Snappers plan season-long celebration
BELOIT The 2011 Midwest League baseball season will be a special one for the city of Beloit.
A season-long celebration is in store at Pohlman Field as Beloit celebrates 30 years of minor league baseball. The Beloit Snappers, a Minnesota Twins Class A affiliate, open Midwest League play tonight at Quad Cities.
The Snappers, who orginally were the Beloit Brewers and affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers until 2005, finished 71-65 overall last season. Beloit is scheduled to play a 138-game regular-season schedule, which again will be split into two halves.
Beloit opens the home portion of its schedule at 6:30 p.m. Monday against the Clinton LumberKings.
The Snappers bring back 14 players from last year’s team, including pitcher Clinton Dempster (3-2, 3.60 ERA) and outfielder Lance Ray, who finished with a .279 batting average with three home runs and 28 RBI.
Nelson Prada, who played four years for the Minnesota Twins in the mid-90s, begins his fourth season as Beloit manager. Prada has two players ranked by Baseball America as top 10 prospects in the Twins organization. Right-handed pitcher Adrian Salcedo is the eighth-rated prospect, while outfielder Oswaldo Arcia is right behind at ninth.
“At our level, it’s still about developing players and teaching them how to win,” Prada said. “Every day is a different day. You’ve got to give the players time to pitch, hit and get the mindset of what it takes to be a winner, no matter what level you’re playing at.
“For each and everyone of these players, this is an opportunity to showcase their talents. My job, as well as my assistant coaches, is to develop those talents.”
Salcedo went 4-3 with a 3.27 ERA last season, striking out 65 in 66 innings pitched. He finished the season at High-A Fort Myers. Arcia hit .375 with 21 doubles and 51 RBI for the Rookie League Elizabethton Twins.
“Arcia has looked good. He will bat in the middle of the order, and I’m anxious to see what he can do,” Prada said. “Adrian will be our No. 3 starter, and he should add to what is already a pretty good staff.”
For years, the Twins drafted players who would fit into the Metrodome style of play. That meant playing small ball, having speedy outfielders who could cover the gaps and starting pitching that could suck up innings. Now, with a new stadium in Target Field, the organization doesn’t necessarily have to draft players to fit that mold.
Prada believes the 2011 Snappers will be just the opposite of the teams he has had the last three years. Gone will be the days of playing small ball, with an emphasis more this year on the big inning.
“We don’t have too much speed, so we’re going to have to wait for somebody to hit and produce,” Prada said. “That doesn’t mean I won’t play the book and use a suicide squeeze or bunt late in a game, but we’re going to be more of a power and defensive team.
“The game itself often times dictates how you play. I don’t really have a style or a way I like to play because each team is different.”
One of the key additions and power source figures to be 2008 fourth-round draft pick Daniel Ortiz. The outfielder hit .259 a year ago at Elizabethton, with 11 home runs, 16 doubles and 43 RBIs.
Right-hander B.J. Hermsen will start tonight’s opener, while left-hander Logan Darnell will pitch Game 2 of the series Friday.
“This is an exciting time of the year for everyone in the organization,” Prada said. “We’ve been through spring training, and now we’re ready to get started.
“It might be a different team than I’ve had in the past, but I don’t think the talent is any less. We’ve got some very good ballplayers that fans are going to enjoy watching.”
For ticket information, contact the Snappers office at (608) 362-2272 or visit the team website at www.snappersbaseball.com.