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1996 East: | Fort Wayne | Lansing | Michigan | South Bend | West Michigan |

Midwest League 1996

Fort Wayne Wizards

Joel's Lugnut Summer


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This page profiles the 1996 Fort Wayne Wizards, a Single-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins and a member of the Midwest League.


This essay previewed the last 1996 series between the Wizards and the Lansing Lugnuts. It was intended to highlight the team's strengths, and was written from the perspective of a Lugnuts fan.



Two full games and a partial (completion) game at Olds. The completion will precede Sunday's regularly scheduled game. Sunday will also feature Hanna-Barbera characters and will reveal the Lugnut Player of the Year.

Monday's game will be the last regular-season meeting between these teams this summer. These games may well determine whether the Lugnuts play in the post-season championship series.


The Wizards are affiliated with the Minnesota Twins. The team is owned by a Eric Margenau and several partners; this partnership owns a couple other minor league teams. Margenau was one of the original owners of the Midwest League's South Bend franchise.

Amazing Baseball is the team's publicity slogan, as well as the name of its [now gone] website. The Journal Gazette puts articles about the Wizards on the net. Twins fans receive more information about their farms than most from WCCO's Twins page, although it isn't kept especially up to date [it's now gone]. There's also a National Association page, of course. And there [was] a picture of Fort Wayne Memorial Stadium in Kevin Marsh'sballpark picture gallery.


The Wizards' manager is Dan Rohn (#20). He's assisted by coaches Jose Baez and Stu Cliburn.


MWL Fan's Guide

The Ballpark

Fort Wayne Memorial Stadium is the other extreme from Olds Park: Lansing built a high-budget ballpark with lots of features, Fort Wayne built a low-budget park with few features. This park does not have many frills, and it's certainly not pretty; nonetheless it's a perfectly adequate facility. Handicapper access appears excellent, the sight-lines are good, and the seats are comfortable. I've always assumed I'd like this park much better if I didn't use the Cove for a benchmark.

I saw the best minor-league game in my memory at this park, so it can't be useless.

The outfield is symmetrical; 330 down the lines, 400 to center. The park has 6,300 seats (no overflow); ticket sales are generally excellent (4000 or so, on average) and visitors should get tickets in advance (from Ticketmaster). STATS Minor League Handbook says the park favors hitters slightly, but turns home runs into doubles and triples.

Directions: Exit I-69 at Coldwater Road (exit 112). Go south 1.5 miles to Coliseum Boulevard (US 30). Turn left (east) on Coliseum and follow less than a mile to the ballpark, which is on the right. There's plenty of on-site parking at $2.00.


The Team


All-Stars: Adrian Gordon (OF) and Fred Rath (P).


Statistics quoted are thru Friday, August 23.

This team has developed nicely; it's far better than the team wearing Fort Wayne uniforms early in the season. They've still got some serious weaknesses, but they've developed some strengths. Their hitting has improved markedly, and although their pitching remains weak they've found some useful role-players.

The Wizards finished second in the Eastern Division for the first half of the season with a 34-32 (.515) record, 3.0 games behind the Whitecaps. They currently occupy third place at 30-31 (.492), 4.5 games back of the 'Caps and three behind the Lugnuts.

The Twins' Elizabethton farm club finished third (of 10), 33-31 (.516) in the Rookie Appalachian League last summer; another Rookie team at Fort Myers finished fourteenth (of 16), 20-35 (.364) in the Gulf Coast League. This year's Wizards are mainly that Elizabethton team, with a handful of players from last year's Wizards and the Fort Myers team.

The position players to watch are mostly outfielders. Adrian Gordon (.296-1-47), Rafael Alvarez (.297-3-52), and Travis Johnson (.328-3-18) provide fine offense, while recent acquisition Anthony Felston (.329-0-15) has good basepath speed. First baseman John Schroeder has 54 RBIs and 12 homers; catcher A.J. Pierzynski, a dangerous hitter finally finding his stroke, leads the team with 66 RBIs. Infielder Israel Paez gets lots of walks and scores regularly. Alvarez plays a brilliant defensive center field.

Closer Fred Rath, probably the team's best pitcher this season, has been called up.

Jeff Harris (8-3, 3.39, 74 Ks in 82.1 innings) seems to be developing into an excellent pitcher. The best pitcher remaining from the early season is Robert Boggs (7-12, 4.17, 122 Ks). Brad Niedermaier's respectable at 6-3, 3.29, 70 Ks, but on relatively few innings. The pitchers who've survived since the beginning of the season remain inconsistent; many of the newer pitchers look like they might be good but haven't pitched much. I'd keep my eye on Scott Tanksley and lefty Tom LaRosa. In general, though, the staff is pretty weak.


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Beloit
2007
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Fort Wayne
1998
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1996
Overview



The Midwest League plays Single-A, professional baseball in America's agricultural and industrial heartland. 16 teams play a 140 game schedule which begins in early April and ends Labor Day weekend.

Disclaimers:
This website is a private project and has no official relation with or sanction from the Midwest League or Minor League Baseball.
The opinions expressed on this page are mine, and are worth about that.


Copyright © 1996-2010 Joel Dinda
Some Rights Reserved.