If anyone is looking for proof that the Alaska Baseball League still produces top notch talent, they can just purchase a copy of our Touching the Game, Alaska DVD. Many of the players featured in the film had terrific seasons in 2010. As far as the Alaska League players we talked to and followed during the summers of 2006 & 2007, we had our first one make it to the Major Leagues. Pitcher Robbie Weinhardt who played for Athletes-in-Action in ’06 was called up to the Detroit Tigers in mid-season and appeared in 27 games. Most of the other players are at the AA level, but are moving up. Former Goldpanner Beau Mills who we featured in the film had an up and down 2010. Playing for (AA) Akron, Beau got off to a poor start at the plate, then after an injury and some off the field problems, rebounded to finish the season strong. Look for him to be at (AAA) Columbus next year. Beau’s former high school and Panner teammate Chris Schwinden made a big jump to (AA) Binghamton this year and was one of their top starters. 2006 Midnight Sun Game winner Chris Kissock also made the jump to (AA) Reading. He was also selected to play in this year’s prospect-rich Arizona Fall League. A couple of Peninsula Oilers who appear in the film have also reached the AA level, pitcher Andre Lamontagne with (AA) Huntsville and infielder Jake Kahaulelio with (AA) Carolina. Kahaulelio, who lead the Oilers to the 2006 ABL title, is making the switch from SS to 2B.
Some of the Alaska League alumni in Touching the Game already in the Major Leagues had huge years in 2010. Congrats to former Goldpanner Michael Young and former Anchorage Buc C.J.Wilson, as they were significant parts of the AL West winning Texas Rangers. Wilson has become one of the Rangers top starting pitchers. A couple more former Bucs had terrific seasons as well. Jered Weaver has become the ace of the Angels staff and was second in the ML in strikeouts, and Heath Bell had a monster season as the Padres closer with 44 saves and an ERA under 2.00. Finally, it’s great to see former Mat-Su Miner Jed Lowrie back playing with the Red Sox. After a year and a half of injuries, he’s looking again like the prospect the Sox drafted out of Stanford.