Tagged: Mariners

Tom Wilhelmsen – AquaSox to Mariners in 9 Months

By now, many people know the background story of new Seattle Mariners pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen: after a great debut season for the Milwaukee Brewers Class A affiliate in 2003, Wilhelmsen tested positive for marijuana twice and was suspended by the Brewers for the entire 2004 season. The following year he retired, bartended full-time at The Hut in Tucson, Arizona, and then backpacked around the world.  Now fast forward to 2009, when he decided the itch to pitch was back. After pitching for the independent league Tucson Toros, Wilhemsen had a 15-minute tryout for Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, and was signed by the Mariners to get his second shot at his dream of reaching the Major Leagues.

For the AquaSox, the Tom Wilhelmsen experience started on July 16th, 2010 when he was assigned to the AquaSox after a stint with the Peoria Mariners. Due to the AquaSox schedule and his positioning in the rotation, Tom never got the chance to pitch for the home crowd at Everett Memorial Stadium, but he did manage to make his mark regardless.  He started three road games for the Sox, going 1-0 with a 3.68 ERA and 14 strikeouts. At home, he became a fan favorite to a crowd that never got to see him in action.

He was introduced to the AquaSox fans on AquaVision, with his own Meet Your AquaSox Video:

And reappeared as the AquaSox pitchers grew their mustaches:

On a day he wasn’t pitching, Wilhelmsen stayed after the game and led Launch-a-Ball as MC, pointing out prizes while ducking and dodging the tennis balls that flew on to the field and in to hula hoops. He also helped lead the celebration as the AquaSox clinched their spot in the playoffs with a walk-off win against Eugene on July 19th.

AquaSox pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen (5th from left) celebrates a NWL playoff berth with his team

AquaSox pitchers Tom Wilhelmsen, Forrest Snow, Anthony Fernandez and Stephen Pryor celebrate

Even after getting called up to the Clinton LumberKings, Tom’s ferocious instructions for the fans to “UNLEASH…THE… EEEEEEEE!!!” lived on in the AquaSox intro video for the NWL playoff run. In Clinton, he went 6-1 with a 2.23 ERA and 73 strikeouts on his way to being named Midwest League Pitcher of the Week two weeks in a row.

Now, less than 9 months after making his debut with the AquaSox, Mariners manager Eric Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis have informed him that he has a spot in the bullpen with the major league club, and will be starting the season in Seattle.

We have caught up with Tom several times since he was called up, including a visit at the Arizona Fall League where he was working on his control and secondary pitches with the Peoria Javelinas. Tom told us that although his time in Everett was short, the people he met and the atmosphere created by Everett’s fans made it a memorable experience for him. He also has a visual reminder of his time in Everett: a pretty impressive NWL Championship ring. While Tom wasn’t here to be a part of the final game, he cemented his place as part of the 2010 AquaSox in the hearts of his teammates, coaches and fans & now takes his place as an AquaSox Alumni.

When he starts the season with the big league club, there will be plenty of fans making the drive down from Everett to see him in action… it’s about time they get a chance to see him pitch in person.

The Everett Herald covered Tom’s time with the AquaSox in an August 1st article titled “AquaSox pitcher’s diamond dreams get a second chance” – read the entire article at HeraldNet.com

AquaSox Put the ‘E’ Back in Everett

Many would agree, the Frog is one of the most recognizable and popular logos in all of Minor League Baseball… Webbly is pretty awesome, we don’t disagree. We did decide, however, that it was time to expand the brand and give the AquaSox a new look:

 

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And because of our great relationship with the Mariners, we decided to become the first Minor League Team to base our brand on the retro logo of our affiliate club:

 

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And of course, it all comes back to Webbly & the fun that is Minor League Baseball. So to celebrate that, we finally have “Aqua Socks”:

 

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Look for changes to the website, Facebook & Twitter pages to come as we integrate our awesome new logos… visit us at www.aquasox.com for all the new gear as well. Go Frogs!

Spring Training Edition #4

This week Ryan Royster decided to mix it up with his Spring Training blog and interviewed former AquaSox James Jones and Brandon Bantz about their experiences at their first spring training.

 

It seems like Spring Training came and went as there is less than a week left until teams break camp. Rosters are slowly but surely starting to take shape and all of the rust has been shaken off. There has been some good baseball to watch and the Mariners are showing promise up and down the system.  This season should be fun and exciting at all levels!

A quick update on my company: Pro Player Baseball (PPB) will be hosting a tournament at Everett Memorial Stadium August 16-18. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation. More information and details will be available soon. We are looking for members of the community to get involved to support this great cause.
As promised we have some exclusive footage of former Aquasox players, James Jones and Brandon Bantz…Enjoy!
 
 
 
Keep up with AquaSox videos all season long at http://youtube.com/aquasoxbaseball

Spring Training Edition #3

Throughout March, former AquaSox OF Ryan Royster will be our Spring Training blogger, keeping us updated with what’s happening at the Sports Complex in Peoria, and how former AquaSox are doing. Check back weekly for his updates.

 

It has been a busy week in M’s camp as Minor League Games began. Everyone is excited to be on the field competing against other organizations, and showing off all of the hard work put in this offseason. It has been a good day for former Frogs Yesterday (Thursday) as James Jones had a pretty bunt single, Joe Dunnigan homered to left, Anthony Phillips had a lead-off double, and Dennis Raben had an RBI triple!

I also would like to announce that my company (Pro Player Baseball) will be hosting a tournament at Everret Memorial Stadium this August, with the proceeds benefitting the Susan G. Komen Foundation and breast cancer research. There will be more on that soon, but it will be a great event for a great cause.

The temperature is rising and it finally feels like Spring Training in Arizona. The 12 hour days only leave room for naps and eating but there’s still nothing like it. My host family from Everret made the trip this week and its been great to see Kristi and Chad. Its always nice to see familiar faces and have the support of loved ones. We have become really close and are just like family now.

Catch you all next week…I’m hoping to have some exclusive behind the scenes video!

Photos From Spring Training

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Mariners Minor Leaguers gather for Spring Training introductions

 

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Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik addresses the minor leaguers

 

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’09 AquaSox infielder Hawkins Gebbers works on his speed

 

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Former AquaSox player & owner Jay Buhner talks with Dan Wilson

after speaking with the Mariners minor leaguers

 

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’09 AquaSox manager John Tamargo hits to his infielders

Tamargo will manage for the Clinton Lumberkings in 2010.

 

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 ’09 AquaSox Outfielder James Jones rounds first during drills

J.J. has played in several games with the Mariners during spring training,

including pinch-running for Ken Griffey Jr.

Minor Leaguers Report to Spring Training

While Mariners Spring Training has been going for a few weeks now (more than that if you count pitchers & catchers, plus mini-camp), many minor league prospects did not report until last week. All minor leaguers were required to report by Friday for physicals, and Saturday morning saw most of them at the complex in Peoria by 7:00am, ready to get started.

First thing was the minor league meeting. All of the players met on the practice field to go over the rules & regulations – welcomes came from all of the managers, who introduced their coaching staff, as well as the strength and training directors, members of the baseball operations staff and Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik. For some of these guys it was their first spring training, and you could tell they were a little overwhelmed with everything, but everyone seemed anxious to get out on the field.

At the Peoria complex there are six practice fields – two for the major league squad and four for the different minor league teams. Whether they end up playing where they practice depends on the space, the position they play, how they do at spring training etc. They also split up by position for certain sessions – former Mariner Jay Buhner was at the complex working with the outfielders, and former Mariner Dan Wilson was also around.

Most of the players don’t have cars in Peoria, so they spend their off time within walking distance of the complex. They stay at a nearby hotel, and there are tons of restaurants & shops surrounding the complex.

One of our main focuses in Peoria was catching up with guys who played for Everett last year, or even before that, and get footage to use for AquaVision next season. All of the guys were great, even those who had only spent a few games in Everett like Nick Franklin. James Jones, Brandon Bantz, Chris Kirkland and more all came by to help out. Some major leaguers like Ryan Rowland-Smith and Mariners Manager Don Wakamatsu also came by to say Hi to all the Everett fans.

Look for photos in the next few days of minor league spring training, and look for special guests on the video board all season long!

Spring Training Edition #2

Throughout March, former AquaSox OF Ryan Royster will be our Spring Training blogger, keeping us updated with what’s happening at the Sports Complex in Peoria, and how former AquaSox are doing. Check back weekly for his updates.

The locker room is filling up fast as the minor league pitchers and catchers reported and began their spring on Monday. The minor league position players arrive today and camp gets fully underway on Saturday. Everyone is excited to be back on the field and that sense of competition is in the air again.

                You can tell the new players right off the bat, as they wander around to find their lockers and figure out the routine.  You feel bad for them at first but we were all there once and we all have to find our way. All of us that arrived early already have our weekly routines and are settled in. Our weeks are usually planned around food specials at nearby restaurants. For example, Monday is usually Chipotle or $5 footlongs, Tuesday is 2 pieces for 99 cents at Popeye’s, Wednesday is all you can eat wings… you get the idea.

                An update on some former frogs: Tyson Gillies hit his first homerun as a Phillie, Dennis Raben is back on the field, James Jones made a pinch run appearance in the Major League club, Nick Franklin has made several big league appearances, and everyone seems to be ready to do big things in 2010.

                Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez pitched against our minor league players in a simulated game and it was exciting to get a chance to face off against two of the game’s best. Some players held their own, but they were pretty tough to hit all day.

The M’s are 4-4 so far this spring and it has been fun to watch. The weather has been strange and we even had thunder and lightning a couple times, but the sun is back out and spring is in full swing. Catch you all next week!

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Ryan Royster got the chance to hang out

with Ken Griffey Jr. at M’s Spring Training