LONG ISLAND DUCKS: The Ducks' Ace Pitcher and 2011 Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year, Returns for a Second Season in the Pond.
Last season, if there were questions regarding the Ducks' pitching, it centered around Mike Parisi and Mike Loree. And the question was - How long would they last? With the fine seasons both were having, it was only a matter of time before affiliated baseball came seeking their services. And sure enough, Mike Parisi was the first to go. Mike Loree followed. Only, Mike Loree came back for the playoffs, and pitched Long Island into the championship round against York.
After Mike and Mike, the Ducks were desperately thin at starting pitching last season. But Long Island possessed a rather remarkable bullpen that over came many deficiencies in the starting rotation. In the end, Long Island's pitching held up. It was the offense that disappeared against the York Revolution in the Finals.
That's all behind us now. The 2012 season is here.
Last season's Atlantic League Pitcher of the Season; Mike Loree; returns to the Long Island Ducks for his second season. He won the League's pitching triple crown last season with 14 wins, 131 strikeouts, and sported a league low 1.98 era. Mike will start the season off against the Somerset Patriots this evening.
Gustavo Chacin will most likely serve as the number two starter behind Loree. In 2005, he went 13-9 with the Toronto Blue Jays. Over 58 major league starts, the 31 year old owns a 27-17 overall record. Last year, he split time between AAA-Buffalo, and Oklahoma City of the Pacific Coast League.
Jason Monti returns to the club after pitching in 20 games out of the bullpen for the Ducks last year. He did not start a game last season, but in his two previous seasons; one with Somerset, and one spent in the Frontier League, he made 36 starts in 45 appearances.
Eric Niesen is no stranger to me. Drafted by the New York Mets, he played his first season in Brooklyn with the Cyclones; A-NYPL. Raised through the Mets' system as a starter, in 2011, he appeared in 51 games, all in relief.
Randy Keisler is a 36 year old lefty. He played for Long Island in 2010, and is a veteran of 13 seasons mostly in AAA. Last season he played in the L.A. Dodgers organization. He made 19 starts and posted a 7-7 win/loss record.
Joe Esposito started 14 games for Reading of the Eastern League last season. But the 33 year old is most likely headed for the Ducks' bullpen. In 375 career minor league innings pitched, he has amassed 405 strikeouts.
Connor Graham spent the last two seasons playing for the Cleveland Indians' affiliate in AA-Akron. He appeared in 43 games last season; 39 came in relief. In 79 innings, he struck out 65 batters, and posted a 3.43 era.
Jeff Lyman started the 2011 season playing Rookie Ball, and eventually made his way to AA-Springfield. The 25 year old made 35 appearances, all in relief. In 49 innings pitched, he struck out 39 batters, but also walked 32 batters as well.
Jon Meloan comes to the Ducks with loads of AAA experience. This may be Long Island's closer this season. Over 372 innings pitched in his 6 year minor league career, he has amassed 433 strikeouts, while issuing 180 base on balls.
Dan Meyer will be another potential high strikeout pitcher. But he walks far too many batters. He has 103 games, and 113 innings pitched worth of MLB experience.
Travis Minix appeared in 11 games for the Somerset Patriots last season. He also pitched for Somerset's 2008 and 2009 championship teams. He has 6 seasons of AAA experience.
Retuning from last season to bolster the bullpen once again, will be the dependable duo of Jeremy Hill and Bob Zimmerman. Hill, the ten year baseball veteran posted an 8-2 record with a 2.91 era for the Ducks out of the pen last season.