| Seasons | 2002 | Teams | Michigan Battle Cats |
2002 East: | Dayton | Fort Wayne | Lansing | Michigan | South Bend | West Michigan |

2002 Scouting Report

Michigan Battle Cats

Major Change

2002 Teams
Cedar Rapids
Fort Wayne
Kane County
Quad City
South Bend
West Michigan
  • Battle Creek, Michigan.
  • Affiliated with the Houston Astros.

This page profiles the 2002 Michigan Battle Cats, a Single-A affiliate of the Houston Astros and a member of the Midwest League.

  • Manager: John Massarelli.
  • Coaches: Stan Boroski (pitching), Brian Dayett.

End of Season Profile

Michigan just kinda stumbled through August. Although the Astros sent a strong team to Brown Stadium, no single player had an outstanding season. This team's strengths are truly team strengths--they led the MWL in runs scored, and had the best all-around defense. Like all Massarelli-managed teams, the Cats were very good on the basepaths.

D.J. Houlton, a spot starter (16 games started, 7 games finished; no CGs), was clearly the strongest pitching talent on this team. Starter Mike Burns and Russ Rohlicek also pitched well, but Battle Creek's team had an otherwise undependable starting rotation, particularly after a trade put Rohlicek in Lansing. Closers Max Tremblay and Juan Campos deserve special mention in an exceptionally able bullpen.

All in all, the Cats ran a very strong offensive lineup out every evening. Outfielder/first baseman Todd Self developed into a star over the season, and second baseman Brooks Conrad had a very strong season. The rest of the offense featured both speed (Self, Brooks, outfielders Fehlandt Lentini, Mike Rodriguez, & Cameron Likely) and power (Self, Conrad, and DH Steve Checksfield).

The Battle Cats used 14 position players and 14 pitchers during the 2002 season.

Unless otherwise indicated, all statistics on this page are through the end of the season.

MWL Fan's Guide

Season Summary

  • Second Half: 37-33, .529 (3rd place tie, 5.0 behind)
  • First Half: 42-28, .600 (1st place, 1.0 ahead; playoff qualifier)
  • Pitching: 79-61, 3.44, 43 saves, 967 strikeouts
  • Hitting: .255, 703 runs, 71 HR, 175 steals (71% success)
  • Defense: 122 errors (0.97 per game); .709 defensive efficiency
  • April: 18-8 (.692)
  • May: 14-14 (.500)
  • June: 16-11 (.593)
  • July: 17-12 (.586)
  • August & September: 14-16 (.467)
  • Playoff Round One: 1-2 (.333)

Leading Players

  • Best Players on the Team: Utility Pitcher D.J. Houlton and Starting Pitcher Mike Burns

  • Best Starting Pitcher: Mike Burns (2.49, 14-9, 126 strikeouts)
  • Bullpen Stopper: Max Tremblay (1.26, 3-3, 14 saves, 61 strikeouts)
  • Strikeout Pitchers: Max Tremblay, Juan Campos, Grant Dorn, D.J. Houlton
  • Control Pitchers: Mike Burns, Max Tremblay, Juan Campos, Greg Powell, Grant Dorn, D.J. Houlton

  • Best Hitter: Todd Self (.310, 12 HR, 94 RBI)
  • Home Run Leader: Steve Checksfield (16)
  • High Batting Average: Todd Self (.310)
  • High On Base Percentage: none
  • High Slugging Percentage: Todd Self (.477), Brooks Conrad (.477)
  • Notable Baserunners: Todd Self, Brooks Conrad, Fehlandt Lentini, Cameron Likely, Mike Rodriguez, Randy Rojas
  • Notable Batting Eye: Cameron Likely, Randy Rojas

July Profile

Year after year the Battle Cats field a championship caliber team. Unfortunately, no one shows up to watch.

Michigan has its usual mix of fine hitting and effective pitching, and is leading the league in wins. This is a streaky team; if they played more consistently, they'd be dominating the standings. They lead the league in runs scored and stolen bases; they also field the MWL's best defense.

Second baseman Brooks Conrad isn't a star, but he's one of the MWL's best players; he's got power and speed, and plays fine defense. Outfielders Todd Self and Cameron Likely have recovered from extended cold spells. Third baseman Trevor Mote's a solid hitter who hurts the team on the basepaths. The rest of the offense is built around speed; outfielders Mike Rodriguez and Fehlandt Lentini (who's returned from the DL) are particularly fine thieves.

D.J. Houlton, the best pitcher on this team, has been used in every possible role and has thrived. The rotation features two solid pitchers--Mike Burns and Russ Rohlicek--and a mystery pitcher, Anthony Pluta, who's occasionally dominating but often terrible. The bullpen has no serious weaknesses, and leads the league in saves. Closer Max Tremblay's been stopping opposing offenses dead.

The Battle Cats have scored 572 runs; their opponents have scored 427 runs.

June Profile

The Astros have again sent a talented squad to Battle Creek. The offense is deep, with an array of talents; the pitching may be deeper. D.J. Houton is thriving as the team's swing pitcher. Anthony Pluta, who had a disasterous first month, is pitching far better than his stat line suggests.

Notable Midseason Losses: Outfielder Fehlendt Lentini (injury); Relief Pitcher Mark Hamilton.

Worth Watching: Closer Grant Dorn.

May Profile

After roaring through April and early May, the Cats collapsed for a long week which let Fort Wayne and West Michigan catch up. A strong recovery late in the month returned the Cats to first place.

Michigan fields a surprising team. Although the team ERA is fairly high for the year, it masks a very strong pitching staff with a couple struggling players. Similarly, although there's not a single high-average hitter on this team, everyone has either speed or power, and most of these players draw walks. Although they are no longer dominating the runs scored count, the Cats still lead the MWL in most key offensive counters. They also play the league's best defense.

D.J. Houlton, who's won 7 games mainly in relief appearances, may or may not be the best pitcher on the squad. Perhaps it's Russ Rohlicek, or Cory Doyne, or Mike Burns (all starters). Or Max Tremblay or Greg Powell (closers). Or Mark Hamilton (once an outfielder, now a short reliever).

Second baseman Brooks Conrad, with both power and speed, is the best all-around position player, though outfielder/first baseman Todd Self is a comparable talent. Third baseman Trevor Mote and first baseman Steve Checksfield are power sources; outfielders Mike Rodriguez, Kerry Hodges, and (especially) Fehlandt Lentini are fine baserunners. It's a capable offense, but there aren't any strong stars.

April Profile

Although several teams have better batting averages, it's real safe to say the Battle Cats have the MWL's best offense: They lead the league in runs scored, home runs, and stolen bases. The runs-scored lead is enormous: Cedar Rapids, with 117 runs scored, is second to Michigan's 153. This is not the team you expected if you read the Astros' pre-season comments.

The Cats also put an excellent defense on the diamond every night. The pitching, while not among the league's elite, is very good; they've been exceptionally good at preventing home runs.

Pre-Season Profile


John Massarelli returns to C.O. Brown Stadium for his second season as Michigan's manager; he also served as hitting coach in this park, and had a year managing at Auburn. Massarelli's teams have been very aggressive on the basepaths, but he rarely calls for bunts or intentional walks.

First Round Draft Selection

  • none

Team Age Information

  • Average Team Age: 22.7
  • Pitchers: 23.0
  • Hitters: 22.5
  • Oldest Player on the Team: Pitcher Max Tremblay (born June 18, 1976)
  • Youngest Player on the Team: Pitcher Tony Pluta (born October 28, 1982)

The average player in the Midwest League this season is 21.6 years old. Average ages were calculated from the opening day roster; age as of July 1, 2002.

This website has more information about team ages.

Where they played last season

This is a brief portrait of how the team was put together. These summaries are based on the team's opening day roster and will not be revised to reflect roster changes.

This year's Michigan nine fields a lineup based on last summer's Pittsfield team. The Battle Cat pitching staff has contributions from all of the Astros' low minors teams. By MWL standards, this is an old team.

Team           League             W/L    Place   Hitters Pitchers
Lexington      South Atlantic (A) 92/48   1(16)      2      3
Michigan       Midwest (A)        82/55   3(14)      2      4
Pittsfield     New York-Penn (A-) 45/30   4(14)      8      4
Martinsville   Appalachian (R+)   31/37  T7(10)      3      2

There was only slight movement in the Astros system last season. Two players appeared at two levels last season, and are counted twice in this table; a third is counted three times. One of the new Cats appeared in one Double-A game last season. Everyone on the Michigan roster played for an Astros farm team in 2001.



Quad City

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.

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.

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