Results tagged ‘ Luis Salazar ’
Last September, the Dash fell two wins short of a championship thanks to the next team up in our preseason countdown.
CAROLINA COUNTDOWN: Lynchburg Hillcats
Introduction: The Lynchburg Hillcats come into 2013 as the reigning Carolina League champions after knocking off Wilmington in the Northern Division Championship Series and upsetting the Dash in the Mills Cup Finals. Members of the Carolina League since 1995, the Hillcats are currently affiliated with the Atlanta Braves, a partnership that began in 2011. The Hillcats play their home games on Calvin Falwell Field at Lynchburg City Stadium.
Last season: Lynchburg clinched a playoff berth with a 39-31 record in the first half, giving them the Northern Division championship. The second half saw them fall all the way to last in the North with a 33-37 record. Once the playoffs started, though, the Hillcats got rolling again, taking two of three from Wilmington in the first round, and then three of four from Winston-Salem to win their seventh Carolina League title.
Manager: Luis Salazar returns to the Lynchburg dugout this season, his third straight with the Hillcats. So far with Lynchburg, Salazar has compiled a record of 131-142 to go along with last year’s Mills Cup. Salazar began his managerial career with the Beloit Snappers of the Midwest League in 1996. From there, he bounced around the minor leagues serving as a coach or manager in several different cities at several different levels. His stops included Louisville, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Vero Beach, Jacksonville, Chattanooga and Atlanta. As a player, Salazar spent 13 years in the majors, playing for San Diego, both Chicago teams and Detroit.
System: The Atlanta Braves have long been held as an example of graduating homegrown prospects to the major league level. However, with many of the highly touted prospects of recent years either already in the majors or closing in on a major league spot, the lower level minors currently have less to offer, placing the Braves 21st overall according to Baseball America. One name to watch in 2013, though, is right-hander Lucas Sims. Last year’s first-round pick appeared for both of Atlanta’s rookie-league teams late last season and is someone who could make his presence felt in the Carolina League before too long.
Best promotion: Battle of Virginia Night on August 2 promises to be an interesting one in Lynchburg. For this night, the Hillcats will have two giveaway items from which the fans can choose. The team will give out 500 caps with the University of Virginia’s colors, and 500 with the colors of Virginia Tech University. Hopefully things don’t get too testy between fans of these two Commonwealth Cup foes.
Fun fact: From April 6-10, 1865, the city of Lynchburg served as the capitol of Virginia. The executive and legislative branches of the government were forced to move after the fall of Richmond during the Civil War. The era of Lynchburg as capitol ended with the fall of the Confederacy four days later, marking what is surely one of the shortest runs as a capitol in history.
Travel to Lynchburg: Lynchburg is one of the shorter trips on the Winston-Salem slate: 150 miles, or a two-and-a-half hour trip.
Hillcats in Winston-Salem: The Hillcats’ first visit to BB&T Ballpark will be April 22-25. They will be back in town from June 10-12 and August 5-7.
Tomorrow: The countdown continues tomorrow as we head to the beach to check in with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
Another day, another preview. Today in the “Carolina Countdown,” the Lynchburg Hillcats get a closer look.
Introduction: Ever since the Hillcats won the Carolina League in 2009, there has been plenty of change in Lynchburg. That 2009 squad was the final one affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2010, the Reds made a one-year stop in Lynchburg. A year ago, the Reds High-A squad went west to Bakersfield, Calif., while the Braves came to town. Atlanta’s High-A affiliate had been in Myrtle Beach. The Pelicans are now under the Rangers’ umbrella. In summary, the Hillcats have done some significant shuffling in recent years, but the Braves are back for year two in 2012.
Last season: Since its CL crown in ’09, Lynchburg has struggled on the field. The Hillcats have finished below .500 in each of the last four halves of the season. In 2011, Lynchburg stumbled to a 60-78 overall mark, which was worst in the Carolina League. The Hillcats finished with a league-low 31 home victories, too.
Manager: Luis Salazar almost lost his life on March 9, 2011. During a spring training game, a Brian McCann foul ball hit Salazar while he was standing in the Braves’ dugout. Salazar remained unconscious for 14 minutes, but he did not suffer any brain damage and went on to manage the Hillcats last season. MILB.com did a great feature on the courageous skipper, who is now preparing for his second season as Lynchburg’s boss.
System: The Braves have a reputation of solid production within their minor league system. A consistent and significant influx of young players was the main catalyst behind Atlanta’s incredible run of 11 straight National League Eastern Division titles from 1995-2005. This year, Baseball America ranks the Braves as the 15th best minor league system in baseball. According to this article from Baseball America, the Braves have focused their drafting efforts on college prospects who can work through the minor leagues quickly. As a result, you can expect many prospects to suit up for the Hillcats this season and beyond.
Best promotion: The Hillcats may lead the league in promotions, but my favorite is “Superstitions Night” on Friday, July 13th. It appears that the organization will let people walk under a ladder and spill some salt, among other “bad luck” actions. I’m a little superstitious, so I’m glad I won’t be in town that night. Maybe the Hillcats will wear black and really test the validity of superstition?
Fun fact: With the exception of the Winston-Salem franchise, Lynchburg’s organization is the oldest one in the Carolina League. Lynchburg joined the CL in 1966. In more than 70 years of baseball in Lynchburg, the Hill Climbers, Shoemakers, Grays, Senators, Cardinals, White Sox, Twins, Rangers, Mets, Red Sox and Hillcats have taken the field.
Travel to Lynchburg: The Dash will travel two and a half hours north for their three trips to Lynchburg this season. This is one of Winston-Salem’s shortest trips of the season–approximately 140 miles.
Hillcats in Winston-Salem: The Hillcats visit BB&T Ballpark three times this season: May 18-20, July 7-9 and August 28-31.
Tomorrow: The Myrtle Beach Pelicans, which unsurprisingly is the favorite stop for many players, coaches and broadcasters in the CL.