Category: Chukars Extra

Chukars hire a new broadcaster for the fourth straight year

Ratick
Ratick

The Idaho Falls Chukars’ broadcasting carousel continues to turn.

Last week, the Chukars announced the hiring of Logan Ratick as their director of broadcasting and media relations. Ratick, who is in his senior year at Syracuse University, will be fourth person in four years to fill that position.

Ratick’s duties will include calling Chukars home games alongside John Balginy and calling road games by himself. He will also be in charge of news releases, social media, the Chukars’ website and more.

“I felt like Idaho Falls was a great situation because of the people in the front office, the fact that I could do every single solo on the road and have a chance to learn from John Balginy,” Ratick told the Post Register over the phone earlier this week. “Everything about the situation seemed right.”

Ratick replaces Andrew Haynes, who told the Post Register he landed a temporary broadcasting job in the spring for the University of Texas softball team.

Chukars general manager Kevin Greene said he opens the broadcaster position after each season. Sometimes, the most recent broadcaster lands another job, and Greene’s hand is forced. Other times, a new broadcaster rises above the other candidates. Ratick landed in the second category, Greene said.

“He’s a kid with a bright future, and we look forward to having him for a year,” Greene told the Post Register Saturday. “This is nothing more than a stepping stone for this young man.”

Ratick has gained significant baseball broadcasting experience, despite attending the only ACC school without a baseball team. Last summer, he was the play-by-play man for the Orleans Firebirds of the Cape Cod Baseball League. He served the same role for the Syracuse Jr. Chiefs (New York Collegiate Baseball League) and LeMoyne College.

At Syracuse’s NPR-affiliate radio station, Ratick hosts various sports talks shows, along with postgame shows for the Orange football, men’s basketball and men’s lacrosse teams. He also does play-by-play for the women’s basketball team.

In May, Ratick plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism. He’ll join a prestigious list of Syracuse broadcasting alumni that includes Marv Albert, Bob Costas and Mike Tirico (who is replacing Costas as NBC’s prime time host at the Olympics).

Ratick won’t be the first Syracuse alum to call Chukar games, either. Chris Lewis was the team’s director of broadcasting and media relations in 2013 and 2014. Lewis was a senior at Syracuse when Ratick was a freshman, and Ratick reached out to him when he applied to work for the Chukars.

Ratick’s baseball employment options were limited by his May graduation because most minor league baseball teams begin their seasons in April.

Ratick read the book “Getting in the Game” by broadcaster Josh Lewin for a broadcasting class. The book included a chapter about baseball teams hiring broadcasters at the Baseball Winter Meetings. One of the chapter’s main characters was a man named Kevin Greene.

Ratick attended the Winter Meetings but didn’t receive any offers, so he cold-called several short-season baseball teams (the only minor league affiliates that start their seasons after May). He was immediately intrigued by the Chukars partially because they liked him, partially because their general manager was Greene.

“It’s a little coincidental that we read that story in class and I ended up being the one that made it out of the pool for Idaho Falls,” Ratick said. “I think it was meant to be.”

Ratick, who was born and raised in Connecticut, discovered his love for broadcasting around the age of 8. He was 12 when he set his sights on Syracuse. By then, he was watching baseball games with the sound off so he could practice his future craft.

“The only thing I’ve ever wanted to do in my life is broadcast professional baseball,” Ratick said.

He’ll get that chance in four months. The Chukars begin their season on June 19 at Grand Junction.

Chukars announce their 2017 coaching staff

Gemoll
Gemoll

A new hitting coach will sit in the Idaho Falls Chukars dugout this summer.

Damon Hollins will replace Andre David as the Chukars’ hitting instructor for the 2017 season, the Chukars announced Friday. Manager Justin Gemoll and pitching coach Jeff Suppan will return to Idaho Falls for their third straight seasons, and Justin Kemp will serve as the Chukars’ head athletic trainer for the second straight year.

This is not Hollins’ first stint as the Chukars’ hitting coach. He held the same position in 2013 and 2014. Hollins spent the previous two seasons as the hitting coach for the Single-A Lexington Legends. 2017 will be Hollins’ eighth year in the Kansas City Royals’ organization.

David was named the hitting coach for the Burlington Royals, Kansas City’s other Rookie-level affiliate, according to the (Burlington, N.C.) Times-News. Former Chukars manager Omar Ramirez will become Burlington’s manager this upcoming season, as well. Ramirez, who managed the Legends the last two years, spent three seasons in Idaho Falls. He and Hollins won a Pioneer League title in 2013.

The Chukars did not name a bench coach on Friday. Ramon Castro has occupied that role the previous two seasons.

Melaleuca Field gets a new outfield wall for the first time since the 1970s

Blackfoot left fielder Daden Jorgensen camps under a fly ball in a nonconference game against Skyline on Friday, March 18 at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)
Blackfoot left fielder Daden Jorgensen camps under a fly ball in a nonconference game against Skyline on Friday, March 18 at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)

For the first time in four decades, Melaleuca Field is getting a new outfield wall.

The new fence has been under construction since the end of the 2015 Idaho Falls Chukars season, and it is scheduled to be completed in mid-May. Chukars general manager Kevin Greene said the old plywood fence was rotting, so the City of Idaho Falls could no longer put off the project.

“It needed to be done,” Greene said. “When you build a ballpark like Melaleuca Field, you need to maintain it.”

The last time the city built a new wall at Melaleuca Field was around 1974, according to Idaho Falls Parks and Cemetery superintendent Brent Martin, who is overseeing the new wall project. The previous wall was built after a windstorm blew the wall over. The new wall survived a fire that burned down Melaleuca Field (then Highland Park) in 1975, and it lasted until this previous fall.

The fence was ready to be replaced years ago.

The stadium was rebuilt — and renamed Melaleuca Field — in 2007, but there wasn’t enough money to replace the outfield wall, Greene said. Martin said the city council repeatedly denied Parks and Recreation requests to fund a new wall due to high proposed costs.

As the years passed, the wall became increasingly unstable.

“There were support beams that were literally sheared off from the bottom,” Greene said. “I would go up there on an extension ladder and the whole thing would shake. I felt unsafe being 8-10 feet off the ground.”

Greene said the Kansas City Royals, the Chukars’ MLB affiliate, contacted him asking for the wall to be replaced out of concern for player safety.

The wall came down shortly after the Chukars’ season ended in September.

Martin said the city budgeted $125,000 for the new wall, and so far the city has spent $70,000 on materials. Greene also secured contracts with Rodda Paint, Ashgrove Cement and Valley Ready Mix for the project.

High school baseball teams are currently playing at Melaleuca Field in front of an unfinished wall of plywood. Greene said the wall will be completed in less than two months, before the Chukars come to town. The wall’s advertisement banners will be placed in the exact same spots as last year, which will help mask the changes to fans this summer.

“It will look just like it did before,” Greene said. “You won’t notice any difference.”

O’Hearn wins Pioneer League MVP, makes All-Star team with four other Chukars

O'Hearn

POST REGISTER

The 2014 Idaho Falls Chukars won’t repeat as Pioneer League champions, but their players sure made an impression on the league this summer.

The Chukars posted a league-high five players on the Pioneer League’s 2014 All-Star team, and also walked away with the summer’s top prize when first baseman/right fielder Ryan O’Hearn earned the Ralph Nelles Award given to the league’s MVP.

Third baseman Mike Hill, shortstop Corey Toups, outfielder Robert Pehl and right-handed pitcher Torey Deshazier joined O’Hearn on the All-Star team.

O’Hearn, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound left-handed slugger out of Sam Houston State, is the first I.F. player to win the Nelles Award since Clint Robinson in 2007.

He started his pro career with a 5-for-5 night in his debut and never stopped hitting. His .372 batting average entering Saturday’s game was second in the league, and he leads the league in hits (87), runs (58) and slugging percentage (.598) while also belting 12 home runs and driving in 50 runs. He’s currently second in the league in on-base percentage at .449.

“I want to thank God first of all, and my teammates and coaches,” O’Hearn said in a news release. “I’ve been so blessed to end up in an awesome organization in the Royals, and to start my career with the Chukars. I have nothing but great things to say about the fans and my time here. It’s an honor to get picked for this award, and it’s something I will always cherish.”

Toups, a teammate of O’Hearn’s at Sam Houston State, shook off a slow start and is hitting .330 with 46 walks and an on-base percentage of .452. He also has 20 doubles.

Hill showed a strong arm at third base and is also hitting .282 with three home runs, 30 RBIs and a league-high seven triples.

Pehl has been the team’s cleanup hitter for most of the summer, batting .339 with 41 RBIs.

Deshazier has been the Chukars best pitcher all summer, posting a 5-2 record and a league-low 2.85 ERA. He’s second in WHIP (1.23) and opponents batting average (.236) while adding 64 strikeouts.

Kyle Pollock was named honorable mention at catcher while Omar Ramirez was an honorable mention selection as Manager of the Year (won by Grand Junction’s Anthony Sanders).

Chukars-Owlz postponed due to rain; Royals extend Player Development Contract

POST REGISTER

The Idaho Falls Chukars just can’t escape the rain.

The Chukars, who battled wet weather on each day of its four-game homestand last week, had another game wiped out by the elements Saturday in Orem, Utah.

The Orem area got hit hard by rain Friday, and the field at Brent Brown Ballpark was still unplayable Saturday afternoon, forcing the postponement of Saturday night’s game at around 4 p.m.

The Chukars and Owlz will play their scheduled game at 4 p.m. today, then make up Saturday’s game as part of a doubleheader beginning at 5:30 p.m. Monday. Both of those games will be seven-inning affairs.

This is the seventh postponed game for the Chukars this season after having no rainouts a year ago.

Idaho Falls trails South Division leader Grand Junction by three games with 14 games remaining. The Chukars and Owlz wrap up their four-game series Tuesday, and before the teams head to Melaleuca Field to begin a four-game series Wednesday.

Also Saturday, the Kansas City Royals extended their Player Development Contract with the Idaho Falls Chukars through the 2016 season. The Chukars have been affiliated with the Royals since 2004.

“We are excited to extend our contracts with Burlington, Idaho Falls, Lexington (through 2018) and Wilmington for an additional two years,” Royals Director of Player Development Scott Sharp said in a news release. “We feel these cities and facilities are some of the best in all of minor league baseball and provide us a great advantage in developing the Royals of the future.”

Chukars look for series lead in game one

By JEFF PINKHAM
jpinkham@postregister.com

As the 2012 Pioneer League season closed without playoffs yet again, Idaho Falls Chukars general manager Kevin Greene and team owner Dave Elmore were at a crossroads.

Would they stay with the Kansas City Royals, the team that had filled Idaho Falls’ rosters since the early 2000s, or find another major league team that would treat Chukars fans with more talent?

“Every time an agreement comes up, there are concerns on both sides,” Greene said Friday. “We want to put a winning team on the field. The (major league team) wants a good environment to develop their players. For the most part, we felt like we’ve lived up to our end of the bargain.”

And for the first time in more than a decade, the Royals lived up to theirs.

Continue reading “Chukars look for series lead in game one”

Three I.F. pitchers stymie top offense in 4-1

At Orem, the Idaho Falls Chukars pitching staff continued its dominant ways, shutting down the Pioneer League’s top offense, the Orem Owlz, in a 4-1 win Saturday in Orem.

Three Chukars pitchers combined to hold an opponent to four runs or fewer for the third consecutive game. Starting pitcher Sam Selman earned the win, settling in after a rough start.

Selman, the Royals’ second-round pick in June’s draft, needed 30 pitches to escape a bases-loaded jam in the first inning. But he retired seven of the final eight batters he faced. The one batter who reached base made it on after striking out on a wild pitch.

Selman finished with seven strikeouts, three walks and one run on three hits through five innings, his longest outing of the season.

Right-handed relievers Kevin Allen and Cory Hall threw four scoreless innings, surrendering just three hits between them. Continue reading “Three I.F. pitchers stymie top offense in 4-1”

Thursday’s links and notes

  • OF Wil Myers (2009 Chukar) was selected today to the 13th annual XM All-Star Futures Game on July 10 at Chase Field in Phoenix. The all-star game pits the best prospects in the minor leagues against each other on U.S. and World rosters as part of MLB’s all-star weekend. ESPN2 will air the July 10 game at 4 p.m. Mountain Time. The 20-year-old is hitting .295/.366/.418 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) in AA this year as he makes the transition from catcher to right field. Fellow Royals prospect Kelvin Herrera, a pitcher, was also named to the team. He never played in Idaho Falls.
  • SP Danny Duffy (2010) will likely be bumped down to AAA after his next start with Bruce Chen and Kyle Davies set to return for the disabled list, the team’s website reports.In seven starts, he’s 1-2 with a 5.03 ERA.

Continue reading “Thursday’s links and notes”