Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Dunn highlights Lookouts' ties to Reds
By David Paschall / Staff Writer, Chattanooga Times Free Press
Video: Lookouts passing through
In early May of 2001, Chattanooga Lookouts owner Frank Burke knew the inevitable was coming and the indomitable was going.
Burke was watching the Lookouts play while sitting beside Tim Naehring, the Cincinnati Reds' farm director at that time. The two were discussing Lookouts standout outfielder Adam Dunn, and Burke sensed Naehring was trying to let him down gently.
"Tim was talking about how he hoped to keep Dunn here through the end of the first half," Burke recalled. "I said, 'Tim, don't tell me that. That's impossible. This guy is hitting the daylights out of it, and that's not going to happen.' "
Naehring smiled and replied, "Probably not."
Several days later, Dunn was promoted to Triple-A Louisville after hitting .343 with 12 home runs and 31 RBIs in only 39 games with the Lookouts.
In their 20th season as Double-A affiliates of the Reds, the Lookouts never had a player create and produce more buzz than Dunn provided six years ago. Selected by Cincinnati in the second round of the 1998 draft, Dunn arrived in Chattanooga as a 21-year-old Texan in a 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame.
He made a grand introduction on opening night with a 430-foot home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to catapult Chattanooga to a 4-3 win over visiting Greenville. By the end of the '01 season, Dunn had set a National League record for rookies by hitting 12 home runs in the month of August.
"For a young athlete to produce and be locked in as long as he was locked in that year was pretty special to see," Naehring said. "It wasn't like he was hitting home runs when the score was 10-2. He was driving the ball when the team needed it and hitting walk-off home runs. He was very, very impressive and fun to watch."
Said Dunn: "That year was a lot of fun, but it was a whirlwind. It just seems like everything took off at once."
Dunn continued to impress in 2002 and was selected to the major league All-Star Game. He was not forgotten in Chattanooga that year, as Burke honored him with a "bobble-head night."
Current Lookouts outfielder Jay Bruce is providing some lasting memories of his own, hitting a walk-off double before a packed house at AT&T Field last Tuesday night. For now, though, Dunn is still the one.
"Part of it was because he hit a home run on opening night to win the game, but there was already so much publicity entering that season about Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns," Burke said. "Austin got hurt that year, so they were never the tandem everybody thought because of Austin's injury problems and because Adam overshadowed him.
"Adam was about as hot as you could get when he was here."
THE BEST TEAMS
1. The 1988 Lookouts went 81-62 and swept Greenville for the Southern League title, the first league title for a Chattanooga pro baseball franchise since 1909.
2. The 1992 Lookouts rolled to a 90-53 regular season but won 10 fewer games than the amazing Greenville Braves, who went 100-43 behind Chipper Jones and Javy Lopez and topped Chattanooga in the title series, three games to two.
3. The 2004 Lookouts went 87-53 overall but followed a sizzling 49-21 second half with a stunning loss to Tennessee in the divisional series.
THE FAN FAVORITES
1. Tom Nevers -- A first-round pick of the Houston Astros in 1990, Nevers played for the Lookouts in 1998-99 and 2001-02. He never made it to the majors but did get his own "bobble-head night" with the Lookouts.
2. Corky Miller -- Miller played for the Lookouts in 1999-2001 before bouncing from Triple-A Louisville to Cincinnati in 2001-03. He got his own "bobble-head night," too.
3. Jamie Dismuke -- Future "bobble-head" material, Dismuke had playing stints with the Lookouts in 1993, '95 and '97. He now serves as their hitting coach and has been a Chattanooga resident for 12 years.
THE WILDEST MOMENT
Phillip Wellman had many memorable post-ejection tirades during his four seasons as manager of the Chattanooga Lookouts, but none were more diverse than the exhibition he put on last month at AT&T Field as Mississippi Braves skipper. Covering home plate and walking off with bases was nothing new for those who followed Wellman when he managed here, but the military crawl to the mound and tossing a rosin bag grenade-style at the feet of the plate umpire were firsts.
"That's certainly the most unexpected thing I can remember seeing here," Lookouts owner Frank Burke said.
Wellman's antics were shown the next several days on ESPN and CNN, and they resulted in him serving a three-game suspension.
Chris Hammond (1988)
Hammond led the Southern League with a 16-5 record and a 1.72 earned run average, with his victory total and ERA setting club records that remain today. More importantly, he led the Lookouts to the 1988 league championship, their only title since pro baseball returned to Chattanooga in 1976. Hammond made 441 big-league appearances, most with Cincinnati and the Florida Marlins, and had an 0.95 ERA in 63 games with the 2002 Atlanta Braves.
Curt Lyons (1996)
Lyons went 13-4 with a 2.41 ERA and led the league with 176 strikeouts, which remains a club record. He was promoted to Cincinnati late that season and went 2-0 in three starts.
C.J. Nitkowski (1994-95)
Cincinnati's top pick in the June 1994 draft was in the majors a year later, but not before going 10-5 and notching 112 strikeouts in 22 starts with the Lookouts.
Homer Bailey (2006)
Bailey made just 13 starts for the Lookouts but made the most of them, going 7-1 with a 1.59 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 68 innings. He went 6-1 with a 2.31 ERA in 10 starts at Triple-A Louisville earlier this season and has since made six starts with the Reds, going 2-2 with a 6.99 ERA.
Blaine Beatty (1994)
Beatty swept the major Southern League categories -- wins (14), ERA (2.38), innings pitched (196) and strikeouts (162).
Lance Davis went 7-5 with a league-leading 2.18 ERA in 2000 and had 98 strikeouts in 116 innings. In 2001, his eight victories with the Reds ranked second on the team. ... Thomas Kramer went 12-1 in 1995, and his win percentage of .923 remains a Southern League single-season record.
Trevor Hoffman (1991-92)
Drafted as a shortstop by the Reds in the 11th round in 1989, the freshly converted Hoffman worked 14 innings in 1991 and had a 1.93 ERA. He worked 29 2/3 innings with a 1.52 ERA in '92 before a promotion to Triple-A. Hoffman was selected by Florida in the expansion draft later that year and traded in June 1993 to San Diego, where he has amassed all but two of his 507 career saves, tops in baseball history.
Jerry Spradlin (1992)
Spradlin led the league with 34 saves and in 59 appearances went 3-3 with a 1.38 ERA. He made 37 appearances the following season for Cincinnati.
John Riedling (1999)
In 40 appearances, Riedling went 9-5 with a 3.43 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 42 innings. The following year, he went 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 13 games with the Reds.
B.J. Ryan (1999)
In 35 appearances, Ryan went 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA and had 46 strikeouts in 42 innings. He made one appearance with the Reds in '99 before being traded to Baltimore. Ryan was a major league All-Star with the Orioles in 2005 and Toronto in 2006 but is out for the rest of this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Todd Williams (1997)
Williams went 3-3 with a 2.10 ERA and led the league with 31 saves. He had made 16 big-league appearances with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995, and his rebound season helped him make 34 more appearances with the Reds, Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees.
Todd Coffey (2004)
In 40 appearances, Coffey went 4-1 with a 2.38 ERA and collected 20 saves. A 41st-round pick in the 1998 draft, Coffey has appeared in 176 games with the Reds in the 2005-07 seasons, going 11-9 with nine saves and a 4.15 ERA.
Rusty Kilgo tied for the Southern League lead with 29 saves in 1995. ... Chris Bushing led the league in 1993 with 29 saves. ... Brendan Donnelly went 2-5 with a 2.98 ERA in 38 games in 1998, five years before becoming a major league All-Star with the Anaheim Angels. ... Domingo Jean led league in 1996 with 31 saves.
Jason LaRue (1998)
LaRue led the Southern League in batting with a .365 average and had 39 doubles, eight triples, 14 homers and 82 RBIs. He became Cincinnati's starting catcher in 2001 and maintained that role through last season.
Paul Bako (1996)
Bako hit .294 in 110 games and led the Southern League in most defensive categories. In 2000-01, he was the backup catcher with the Atlanta Braves.
THE FIRST BASEMEN
Ben Broussard (2001)
Broussard led the Southern League with a .320 batting average and had 27 doubles, 23 homers and 69 RBIs. Traded to Cleveland midway through the 2002 season, he has been in the majors ever since and is currently hitting .300 with the Seattle Mariners.
Joey Votto (2006)
Votto hit .319 with 46 doubles, 22 homers and 77 RBIs, and he entered this season as Cincinnati's No. 3 prospect according to Baseball America. His big-league promotion would seem imminent, as Votto is hitting .315 with 11 homers and 50 RBIs through 83 games with Triple-A Louisville.
THE SECOND BASEMEN
Ray Olmedo (2002-03)
After hitting .247 in 132 games in 2002, Olmedo hit .294 in 49 games the following year before promotions to Triple-A Louisville and Cincinnati, where he wound up playing 79 games. He appeared in 171 games with Cincinnati from 2003-06 but is now with Toronto, hitting .284 for Triple-A Syracuse.
William Bergolla (2004)
Bergolla was brilliant defensively on an 87-53 team and hit .283 with 38 RBIs. He also led the Lookouts with 36 stolen bases. Bergolla played in just 17 games with the Reds during the 2005-06 seasons and is now in the San Francisco Giants organization, hitting .286 at Triple-A Fresno.
Pokey Reese (1994)
Cincinnati's top pick in 1991, Reese hit .269 with the '94 Lookouts and led league shortstops defensively with 221 putouts. Reese would play for the Reds from 1997-2001 before being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Freddy Benavides (1989-90)
Currently Cincinnati's minor league infield coordinator, Benavides hit .250 in 1989 and .259 in 1990 before playing four big-league seasons.
THE THIRD BASEMEN
Edwin Encarnacion (2004)
After struggling in Chattanooga in 2003 because of a thumb injury, Encarnacion bounced back in '04 to hit .281 with 13 homers and 76 RBIs in 120 games. His 35 doubles led the league, and he hit .533 in the divisional series loss to Tennessee. Encarnacion is in his third season with Cincinnati, hitting .270 this season after hitting .276 last year.
Aaron Boone (1996)
Boone hit .288 in 136 games with 44 doubles, 17 homers and 95 RBIs. The Southern League All-Star would go on to play 668 games with the Reds during the next seven seasons before getting traded in July 2003 to the New York Yankees, where he wound up winning the '03 pennant with an 11th-inning homer against Boston. Boone is currently hitting .286 with the Florida Marlins.
Gookie Dawkins, a second-round pick of the Reds in 1997, hit .364 in 32 games with the Lookouts in 1999 but came nowhere close to matching that clip the following three seasons. ... In 2004, his fourth season with the Lookouts, Andrew Beattie hit .300 in 101 games with six homers and 43 RBIs.
Adam Dunn (2001)
Though he played in only 39 games, Dunn left his mark on Chattanooga by hitting .343 with 12 home runs and 31 RBIs. At the time of his May 16 promotion to Triple-A Louisville, Dunn was leading the Southern League in hitting, homers, runs scored, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He would go on to hit .329 in 55 games with Louisville and then .262 in 66 games with Cincinnati. In 2004-05, Dunn became the only player in Reds history to produce 100 runs, 100 RBIs and 100 walks in two separate seasons.
Brady Clark (1999)
Clark led the Southern League in batting with a .326 average and had 37 doubles, 17 homers and 75 RBIs. He would play for the Reds from 2000-02 but had his best season in 2005, when he hit .306 with 31 doubles, 13 homers and 53 RBIs with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Chad Mottola (1995, '97)
Mottola, Cincinnati's top pick in 1992, hit .293 in 51 games with the '95 Lookouts and .362 in 46 games with the '97 Lookouts. He has bounced between the minors and majors during the past decade, hitting .250 in 10 games last season with Toronto.
Reggie Sanders (1991)
Sanders hit .315 in 86 games with 49 RBIs and a league-leading eight triples before his promotion to Cincinnati, where he became a mainstay in the Reds outfield through 1998. He was a 1995 All-Star and has played with eight big-league teams, including Atlanta.
Scott Pose (1991-92)
Pose led Southern League outfielders in fielding with a .996 percentage in 1991-92 and led the league in hitting in '92 with a .342 average. He played in the majors with the Marlins, Yankees and Royals.
Tim Costo (1992)
Costo, a first-round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 1990 who was traded to Cincinnati for Reggie Jefferson in June 1991, set a Chattanooga record with 28 home runs in 1992 before making his brief big-league run. In 43 games with the Reds in the 1992-93 seasons, Costo struggled with a .224 average and tallied three homers and 14 RBIs.
Austin Kearns was limited to 59 games in 2001 because of a thumb injury and was around for only 12 games in 2002 before he got promoted to the majors, where he led all National League rookies in hitting, on-base percentage and slugging. He's now with the Washington Nationals. ... Chris Denorfia hit .330 in 46 games in 2005 before promotion to Louisville and eventually Cincinnati. ... In 2003, Stephen Smitherman hit .310 in 105 games with 19 homers and 73 RBIs. ... Jay Bruce hasn't been with the 2007 Lookouts for three weeks, but Cincinnati's top pick of '05 already is showing great promise with a .328 average, four homers and 15 RBIs.