RailCats left-hander Tony Cogan has become a fan-favorite at U. S. Steel Yard in only two seasons, setting the team's single-season saves record in 2007 before converting to a starter in 2008 and carrying a 2.08 ERA, the lowest ever by a RailCats pitcher. This winter, Cogan is pitching in Puerto Rico for a chance to get picked up by a Major League organization and return to the big leagues, where he pitched in 2001 for the Kansas City Royals. When he's not on the mound, Cogan will be sharing his thoughts here for The (Rail)Cats Meow. If you have questions for Tony, either leave a comment below or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the first installment: "It's Always Sunny in Puerto Rico"
Buenos Dias from Puerto Rico.
This is my first blog so bear with me as I try to get the hang of it. I know September didn’t end the way the RailCats fans and players wanted, but this is baseball so “there’s always next year”. Fortunately for me I get to move on to Winter Ball here in the sunny, warm Caribbean.
After about ten days, I’m settling in to the consistent 85 degree sunny days with an afternoon shower you can set a clock to. At night it’s a frigid 75 degrees and humid. It’s similar to Indiana in June. Did I mention how warm it is here, what’s the weather like up there? (Ed: It's raining a cold, thanks for asking) Sorry for rubbing it in, but I know all too well what the Midwest is like in winter since Chicago is my home.
Back to baseball…
I guess I should start by explaining the Puerto Rican Baseball League and winter ball in general. The Puerto Rican Baseball League is one of four major winter leagues. The others are Mexico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. The champion of each league advances to the Caribbean World Series, which will take place in Mexico in January. The competition level down here is really strong. Each roster has at least three current Major League players plus several others that have had at some big league time. There are also lots of top prospects that affiliated teams have sent down here to keep “working” over the winter.
The teams are comprised of mostly native Puerto Rican players and an allotment of “importados” or imported players that are not Puerto Rican. There are also several Puerto Rican born players on the roster that don’t play a full season. Typically, these are MLB All-Star caliber players that spend the winter with their families and also want to play in their native land and prepare for spring training. Not to brag, but on my team (the Caquas Criollos) this has presented the opportunity to be teammates with and possibly pitch to I-Rod, Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez. When and if he catches for me, I’m sure I’ll write an entire blog on it.
There are some familiar faces from the Northern League down here too. My roommate, Vince Perkins, pitched for Joliet down the stretch and is signed to play with the Cubs organization next season. Also, my team’s manager is none other than famed New York Mets infielder and Joliet Manager Wally Backman.
That’s all for my first blog. I hope you all enjoyed hearing about baseball in the Caribbean. I would like to answer any questions, but I don’t have frequent access to the Internet. I’ll do my best to include your interests in my future blogs. In the meantime, for those of you who are Spanish speaking or want to give it a try, you can log on to the teams website www.caguascriollos.com. There are up to date stats and the games are broadcast just like they are on the Cats site, only in Spanish.
(Ed.: you can also get stats here)
Until next time … Adios