Minor League Season Recap: Clinton LumberKings


Our second of five Minor League Season Recaps takes us to the Midwest League, where the Clinton LumberKings would have to overcome the losses of Gabby Guerrero and D.J. Peterson to High Desert in order to improve on a 67-72 2013 season.

While the Everett AquaSox failed to field a competitive team from the outset of the year, the Mariners’ full-season Class A affiliate began the year 5-3 courtesy of spectacular start from the pitching staff, who gave up only 19 runs in their first eight games. Carlos Misell picked up a pair of victories in his first two starts (0.84 ERA), and things were looking up in for the ‘Kings.

Then streakiness took a hold of the team to an unbelievable extent. A four game skid was followed by a four game winning streak, but then Clinton dropped five more in a row to fall to 9-12 going into a tough series at Quad Cities.

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That trip, which should have been a simple trek just past the Illinois border, turned into one of the most bizzare twists to any MiLB team’s season. Rain and wet grounds forced postponements on both the 28th and 29th, and the LumberKings had to play through doubleheaders on two consecutive days just to keep some semblance of their schedule intact.

But the brief respite provided by Mother Nature may have been just what the team needed, as they took three of four against the River Bandits before travelling to Wisconsin and Burlington, where they won two of three in each three-game set to end a surprisingly successful 7-3 road trip at the beginning of May.

After treading water through the better part of the rest of the month, a trip to dominant Kane County was the beginning of the end to the LumberKings’ First Half chances. They dropped two of three to begin a 3-6 stretch against the Cougars and fellow divisional foe Wisconsin, erasing all the good work of the first one and a half months.

The starting rotation were responsible for many of the team’s losing streaks…

Clinton fell apart during the last fourteen games of the First Half, winning just three and falling from a respectable 27-27 to 7th place 30-38, 14.0 games out of first place in the Western Division.

The Second Half began with a rainout in Beloit, but this time the extra day off proved malignant, as the ‘Kings began 4-6 to end June. July started modestly until the team had to play one and a half games on the 11th to complete a suspended game against Cedar Rapids. Those losses, combined with two more versus the Kernels, extended the losing streak to five, once again derailing the LumberKings’ season. Another six games dropped from July 24-29 all but sealed the club’s fate: the postseason would not come to Ashford University Field in 2014.

An 8-1 stretch stopped the hemorrhaging as the calendar turned to August, but difficult stretches against Kane County and Wisconsin resulted in another disappointing end to the Half, as Clinton finished the Second Half 31-39, again eight games under .500.

Overall, the LumberKings had a 61-77 season, tied with Bowling Green for second-worst in the entire Midwest League and ahead of only a dismal Beloit (55-84) team. Their -34 run differential (601 scored, 635 conceded) was indicative of a team who through the course of five months could neither hit nor pitch with the best of the league.

At the plate, Austin Wilson put together a wonderful year, posting a team-high 12 HR along with a .291 AVG and .893 OPS over 261 AB. Meanwhile, Justin Seager did not live up to his brother’s MiLB performances of years past. The first baseman hit .240/.319/.622 while committing 20 errors in the field, contributing very little to the cause.

The pitching staff, despite the aforementioned start, posted a below-average 4.11 team ERA. Eddie Campbell, Carlos Misell, and Jose Flores each had ERAs over 4.00 in 20 or more GS while combining for a 20-26 record. However, Emilio Pagan was a bright spot out of the bullpen, recording 16 saves in 42 relief appearances with a 2.89 ERA and 1.02 WHIP.