Tag: Ryan O’Hearn

Meibrys Viloria named Pioneer League MVP


Idaho Falls Chukars catcher Meibrys Viloria, who batted over .400 for most of the season, won the Pioneer League’s 2016 Ralph Nelles Award as the league’s most valuable player.

Viloria, a 19-year-old catcher from Cartagena, Colombia, through Monday led the Pioneer League in batting average (.381), doubles (28) and RBIs (54). And one season after not having an extra-base hit for the Burlington Royals, Viloria is second in the league with 37 extra-base hits. He is also second with 53 runs and third in on-base percentage (.442) and slugging (.619).

The international free agent owns the Pioneer League’s longest hitting streak of 2016 at 20 games from July 7 to Aug. 7.

“It’s a great credit to him and the year he’s had,” Idaho Falls manager Justin Gemoll said in a news release. “He does a lot of good things blocking balls, controlling the running game and leading the pitching staff, and offensively he’s had a great approach and been consistent all year long. He’s one of those kids who comes ready to play and wants to play every day. His energy is infectious for our team and he got after it all season long.”

Viloria is the third Chukar to win the award since Idaho Falls became affiliated with the Royals. Clint Robinson, currently with the Washington Nationals, won the award in 2007, while Ryan O’Hearn, now at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, was honored in 2014.

Viloria, Olloque honored

Idaho Falls teammates Meibrys Viloria and Manny Olloque were named to the 2016 Pioneer League end of season All-Star team, the league announced late Monday. The award is voted on by the league’s managers and honors the best players at each position.

Viloria, who was named the league MVP Tuesday, leads the league in batting average, doubles and RBIs through Monday.

Olloque, in his third minor league season, was hitting .319 through Monday with 15 doubles, seven homers, 49 RBIs and 50 runs scored.

Tuesday’s game

CHUKARS 6, OWLZ 5: At Orem, Utah, Idaho Falls built a 5-1 lead and then held on late to beat Orem the day after it was eliminated from the Pioneer League playoffs.

Idaho Falls starter Alex Luna was solid again, allowing two runs on seven hits with one walk and four strikeouts over six innings. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound right-hander improved to 5-1 and saw his ERA drop to 3.90.

The Chukars scored single runs in the first and third innings and plated two in the fourth to go up 4-1. I.F.’s lead went to 6-2 after single runs in the sixth and seventh. Orem, which rallied in the eighth, ninth and 10th innings Monday to win, scored three times in the eighth to cut the lead to one. But Christian Flecha worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to close it out.

Idaho Falls shortstop Ricky Aracena had one of his best offensive games of the season, going 3 for 3 with two walks, a double and three RBIs. He also stole a base and was error-free in the field. Rudy Martin was 2 for 4 with two runs scored and Luke Willis was 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI.

The Chukars (38-36 overall, 16-21 second half) return to Melaleuca Field for the final two games of the season. Idaho Falls and Orem will play Wednesday and Thursday, with first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m. both nights.

Chukars Notebook: A heartbreaking end to a strong first half


In the ninth inning of the final game of the first half, the Idaho Falls Chukars didn’t know what their audience did: the Orem Owlz had lost.

Orem’s loss to Billings gave the Chukars an opening. If they came back to beat Missoula, they’d be the Pioneer League South Division first half champions.

As Orem’s game was concluding, the Chukars staged a comeback. A 4-1 deficit turned into a 4-4 tie, and it was feet away from a 5-4 lead. Angelo Castellano hit a double high off the wall to tie it up.

I.F.’s joy soon turned into anguish. Jacy Cave hit a walkoff home run off Brian Bayliss to put a disappointing end to an otherwise successful first half for the Chukars.

“It was a tough loss, especially when the game’s over and you find out that Orem lost,” Idaho Falls manager Justin Gemoll said. “Still, (we) accomplished a lot. I think a lot of our losses were by one or two runs. A lot of close games. With those close games, it just makes you focus on doing the little things right because a bunch of little things add up to a win.”

In some ways, Bayliss symbolized I.F.’s strong first half and its dispiriting end. Bayliss is a Pioneer League All-Star. The right-hander finished the first half with a 2.87 ERA, 13 strikeouts and three unintentional walks. Cave’s home run was one negative moment in a half full of positive ones.

“It’s baseball. It happens,” Bayliss said. “You’ve got another half season, and you just have to move on.”

The Chukars haven’t won a first half title since 2007, and they went a league-worst 13-25 in the first half of 2015. Bayliss was on last year’s team, and the playoff race this week didn’t feel new to him. It felt like the second half of last year, when the Chukars won the South Division.

The biggest goal for Gemoll and company, of course, is to develop their players. The coaching staff wants all 29 players to improve, wins and losses be damned to some extent.

Not every aspect of development is mechanical. Close games and tight playoff races can also prepare the players for the next level, even if Pioneer League contests feel light years away from the World Series.

“To get to that next level, you’ve gotta be a little bit sharper up top,” Gemoll said. “That’s what the good big league players do.”

One positive from finishing second in the first half title chase: the second half has stakes. The Chukars have another playoff race to look forward to.


Chukars starting pitcher Alex Luna strained his left oblique Tuesday at Missoula. The injury will force Luna to miss Tuesday’s All-Star game, but neither he nor Justin Gemoll expect him to miss much time. Luna isn’t exactly sure when he’ll be back, but he hopes to throw again by Tuesday.

Luna leads I.F. with 42 strikeouts, and he’s issued seven walks in 40 innings pitched. The right-hander also leads all Pioneer League starters with a 2.48 ERA.


Kansas City called up former Chukar Raul Mondesi on Tuesday. The 21-year-old has started at second base the previous five games for the Royals and has gone 6 for 17 (.353) at the plate. He recorded his first MLB hit Wednesday, a bunt single against the Los Angeles Angels.

Mondesi, widely considered the Royals’ top prospect, was added to Kansas City’s 2015 World Series roster and made one plate appearance in Game 3. He started this season in Double-A Northwest Arkansas but was suspended 50 games in May after testing positive for Clenbuterol, a performance-enhancing drug. He returned to Advanced Single-A Wilmington on June 25, moved up to Northwest Arkansas on July 4 and ascended to Triple-A Omaha on July 9.

Mondesi played for the Chukars in 2012 at the age of 16. He hit .290 with a .733 OPS in 232 plate appearances.


MLB.com released its updated overall and team prospect lists this week. The Royals’ new top 30 looks similar to their preseason list, but several players have moved around.

Below are the former and current Chukars who made the Royals’ list:

1. SS/2B Raul Mondesi (preseason: No. 1) Was a Chukar in 2012; No. 54 on MLB.com’s top 100 list

2. 3B/OF Hunter Dozier (preseason: No. 15) Chukar in 2013

4. LHP Matt Strahm (preseason: No. 10) Chukar in 2012, 2014

6. RHP Kyle Zimmer (preseason: No. 2) Chukar in 2014

8. 1B/OF Ryan O’Hearn (preseason: No. 13) Chukar in 2014

9. RHP Alec Mills (preseason: No. 15) Chukar in 2012, 2014

10. RHP Jake Junis (preseason: unranked) Chukar in 2013

11. RHP Josh Staumont (preseason: 18) Chukar in 2015

14. SS Marten Gasparini (preseason: 8) Chukar in 2014, 2015

23. RHP Brooks Pounders (preseason: 29) Chukar in 2014, 2015

24. LHP Eric Skoglund (preseason: 28) Chukar in 2014

29. SS Ricky Aracena (preseason: 26) Current Chukar

30. 2B/SS Corey Toups (preseason: unranked) Chukar in 2014

Former Chukars who dropped out of the top 30: OF Amalani Fukofuka (preseason: 20; Chukar in 2015), OF Brandon Downs (preseason: 24; Chukar in 2014)


C Meibrys Viloria

Alex Luna, Manny Olloque, Yeison Melo and others had excellent halves, but Viloria is the indisputable choice for this award. In the first 38 games, Viloria led the Pioneer League in batting average (.457), on-base percentage (.504), slugging percentage (.793), hits (53), RBIs (36), doubles (15) and total bases (92).


LHP Nick Andros

Andros finished the first half with a 10.80 ERA in 13.1 innings pitched. He allowed 27 hits, seven walks (11 strikeouts) and a team-high six home runs.

Chukars Notebook: Raul Mondesi highlights Royals’ prospect rankings


Since returning from 50-game suspension, Raul Mondesi has been all over the place.

The Kansas City Royals shortstop prospect was suspended on May 10 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Mondesi returned on June 25 as a member of the Wilmington Blue Rocks, Kansas City’s Advanced Single-A affiliate. On July 4, he moved up to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he played prior to the suspension. And finally, Mondesi was called up to Triple-A Omaha on Friday.

That’s not quite all. Baseball America came out with its midseason top 100 prospects list the same day Mondesi moved up to Omaha. No. 55 on the list? Mondesi. He’s one of several former Idaho Falls Chukars on various prospect lists.

Mondesi is the only Royals prospect to make Baseball America’s midseason list, and he actually moved down 26 spots from the website’s preseason list (fellow Royals prospect Kyle Zimmer was No. 85 on that list).

Mondesi is still ranked No. 1 on almost every online Royals prospect rankings. Zimmer is Kansas City’s consensus No. 2 prospect, and he also played for the Chukars. The right-handed pitcher threw 4.2 innings for Idaho Falls in 2014, posting a 1.93 ERA. Mondesi spent all of 2012 with the Chukars, hitting .290 with a .733 OPS in 207 at-bats.

The next highest former Chukar on MLB.com’s Royals prospect list is shortstop Marten Gasparini. The Italy native is ranked No. 8 on MLB’s list and No. 7 on Baseball America’s, although most other scouting websites are not that high on him. Gasparini is hitting .197 with a .587 OPS for Single-A Lexington this season. He batted .259 with a .752 OPS with the Chukars last summer.

Northwest Arkansas first baseman Ryan O’Hearn is No. 5 on FanGraphs.com’s Royals list, which is also high compared to most rankings. Unlike Gasparini, O’Hearn has produced at just about every level. His career minor league batting average is .300 and his OPS is .898. O’Hearn was named the Pioneer League Player of the Year with the Chukars in 2014, thanks to a .361 average and a 1.034 OPS.

MLB.com ranks Northwest Arkansas lefty Matt Strahm No. 10 in the Royals’ system. Strahm pitched 30.1 innings for I.F. in 2012 and 19.2 in 2014, posting 5.64 and 2.29 ERAs, respectively.

One current Chukar made the top 30 of MLB.com’s rankings. Shortstop Ricky Aracena is No. 25.

Some other notable former Chukars:

Omaha third baseman Hunter Dozier (played for I.F. in 2013) is ranked N0. 10 on Baseball Prospectus’ Kansas City rankings.

Omaha righty Alec Mills (I.F. 2014) is No. 13 on MLB.com’s list.

Wilmington righty Josh Staumont (I.F. 2015) is No. 17 on MLB.com’s list.

Lexington outfielder Amalani Fukofuka (I.F. 2015) is No. 19 on MLB.com’s list.

Righty Brooks Pounders (I.F. 2014 and 2015) is No. 28 on MLB.com’s list. Pounders made his MLB debut on Tuesday at Toronto. He’s allowed one earned run in three relief innings for Kansas City so far.

Roster move

July 5: Chukars first baseman/catcher Colton Frabasilio moves up to Advanced Single-A Wilmington. Frabasilio’s call-up stemmed from an injury to Zane Evans of the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals, according to the Chukars. Evans was placed on the disabled list, which led to a promotion for Wilmington catcher Luis Villegas. Frabasilio filled Villegas’ vacant roster spot.

Frabasilio hit .348 (16 for 48) with a .936 OPS in 12 games for I.F. this summer.

Standings update

The Chukars improved to 12-10 with their 10-8 win over Orem on Saturday. I.F. now sits two games behind the Owlz (14-8) with 16 games left in the first half.

Who’s hot?

3B Manny Olloque

Olloque was named the Pioneer League Player of the Week for his performance from June 27 through July 3. He hit .429 (12 for 28) with three doubles and two home runs during the week.

Olloque was a bit quieter this week. Then came Saturday, when he went 4 for 5 against Orem to extend his hitting streak to eight games. Olloque is now hitting .350 on the season with an OPS over .900.

Who’s not?

LHP Sam Selman

Selman joined the Chukars on a rehab assignment. He started the season with Northwest Arkansas and has reached as high as Omaha (in 2014). With the Chukars in 2012, he earned the Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year thanks to a 2.09 ERA in 60.1 innings.

Selman has not improved that resume with I.F. this summer.

Selman’s ERA with the Chukars dropped to 9.35 after 1.2 innings pitched on Friday at Orem. But he still allowed two unearned run on two hits.

The lefty allowed three earned runs in each of his first two outings with the Chukars, and his opponents’ batting average is .356. Selman has, however, struck out eight batters and walked only two.

MLB draft provides glimpse of future Chukars


The MLB draft concluded Saturday, and several of the Kansas City Royals selections will appear at Melaleuca Field this summer.

The Royals have sent about 11 freshly drafted players per season to the Chukars since 2012, when teams saw their picks reduced from 50 to 40. Most of those players joined Idaho Falls on opening day, and some turned into future stars.

The Chukars’ rookie crop last season was relatively small compared to recent years. Kansas City’s highest 2015 pick on I.F.’s opening day roster was outfielder Roman Collins (fifth round). Five more 2015 selections made the Chukars’ initial roster, and they were all selected in the 14th round or later.

But other draftees started to roll in. Flame-throwing right-handed pitcher Josh Staumont (second round) joined the Chukars in July, as did outfielder Cody Jones (sixth round). Right-handers Daniel Concepcion (12th round), Matt Ditman (16th round) and Jacob Bodner (27th round) also came to I.F. later in the season.

The Chukars received 14 of Kansas City’s 2014 draftees that summer, and they all made the opening day roster. Two of those players were left-hander Eric Skoglund (third round) and first-baseman Ryan O’Hearn (eighth round) both of whom are top-30 prospects in Kansas City’s system, per multiple baseball scouting websites. O’Hearn, who currently plays for Double-A Northwest Arkansas, was the Pioneer League MVP in 2014.

Triple-A Omaha shortstop Hunter Dozier was selected eighth overall in 2013 and played 54 games for the Chukars that year. Dozier is currently Kansas City’s 11th-best prospect, according to FanGraphs.com (O’Hearn is fifth).

Kansas City forfeited its first-round pick this year after signing free-agent pitcher Ian Kennedy last offseason, per the Kansas City Star. But the Royals had a pick in each of the final 39 rounds, and they used their first to select Pepperdine right-hander AJ Puckett (No. 67 in round two).

The Chukars will announce their full opening day roster in the next few days. Their season starts Friday at Melaleuca Field versus Ogden. They also face the Idaho Falls Bandits in an exhibition Thursday.

Kansas City Royals’ 2016 draft class
AJ Puckett / second round / RHP / Pepperdine
Khalil Lee / third round / CF / Flint Hill School (Va.)
Jace Vines / fourth round / RHP / Texas A&M
Nicholas Lopez / fifth round / SS / Creighton
Cal Jones / sixth round / CF / Dadeville (Ala.) HS
Travis Eckert / seventh round / RHP / Oregon State
Chris DeVito / eighth round / 1B / New Mexico
Walker Sheller / ninth round / RHP / Stetson
Richard Lovelady / 10th round / LHP / Kennesaw State
Vance Vizcaino / 11th round / CF / Stetson
Jeremy Gwinn / 12th round / RHP / Colby CC
Logan Gray / 13th round / 2B / Austin Peay
David McKay / 14th round / RHP / Florida Atlantic
Mike Messier / 15h round / LHP / Bellarmine
Nick Heath / 16th round / CF / Northwestern State
Dillon Drabble / 17th round / RHP / Seminole State
Vance Tatum / 18th round / LHP / Mississippi State
Tyler Fallwell / 19th round / RHP / Cochise
Anthony Bender / 20th round / RHP / Santa Rosa JC
Dalton Griffin / 21st round / CF / South Effingham HS (Ga.)
Cody Nesbit / 22nd round / RHP / San Jacinto North
Kort Peterson / 23rd round / OF / UC Los Angeles
Mike McCann / 24th round / C / Seattle
Robby Rinn / 25th round / 1B / Bryant
John Brontsema / 26th round / 3B / UC Irvine
Rex Hill / 27th round / LHP / TCU
Yordany Salva / 28th round / C / Broward
Grant Gavin / 29th round / RHP / Central Missouri
Geoffrey Bramblett / 30th round / RHP / Alabama
Malcolm Van Buren / 31st round / RHP / Hanahan (S.C.) HS
Luke Bandy / 32nd round / CF / Providence Classical Christian Academy
Kameron Misner / 33rd round / OF / Poplar Bluff (Mo.) HS
Nathan Webb / 34th round / RHP / Lee’s Summit (Mo.) North HS
M.J. Sanchez / 35th round / C / California Baptist
Alex Massey / 36th round / RHP / Tulane
Justin Camp / 37th round / RHP / Auburn
Joey Fregosi / 38th round / SS / Murrieta Valley HS (Calif.)
Chase Livingston / 39th round / C / Rhode Island
Taylor Kaczmarek / 40th round / RHP / San Diego

Chukars announce five opening-day players

On Saturday, the Chukars announced the first five players assigned to Idaho Falls. They are Igol Feliz, Arnaldo Hernandez, Drew Milligan, Tanner Stanley and Miebrys Viloria.

Milligan is a left-handed pitcher who made 17 relief appearances for I.F. last season, amassing a 4.07 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 13 walks.

Feliz and Hernandez are both right-handed pitchers. Feliz signed with the Royals in 2011 and played for Rookie-level Burlington last season. Hernandez made one appearance (a start) for the Chukars in 2015, allowing six runs (two earned) in four innings.

Stanley, the son of former MLB catcher and first baseman Mike Stanley, is an outfielder in his second minor league season with the Royals.

Viloria is a catcher who spent part of 2014 and all of 2015 in Burlington.

Former Chukars receive minor league awards from Kansas City Royals

Several former Idaho Falls Chukars picked up 2015 minor league awards from the Kansas City Royals.

Jonathan Dziedzic, who pitched for Idaho Falls’ Pioneer League championship team in 2014, won the Paul Splitorff Award given to the organization’s top minor league pitcher. Dziedzic went 10-7 with a 3.56 ERA in 27 appearances for the AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals and AAA Omaha.

Elier Hernandez, who spent 2012 and 2013 in Idaho Falls, won the Carlos Fortuna Award given to the player who is dedicated to improving his english, his work ethic and his conduct. Hernandez hit .268 with 26 doubles, six homers and 54 RBIs in 124 games in Wilmington (A) and Lexington (A).

Parker Morin, a 2012 Chukar, won the Mike Sweeney Award given to the player who best represents the organization on and off the field. Morin hit .309 with 10 doubles, four homers and 30 RBIs in 56 games for Northwest Arkansas.

Ryan O’Hearn, the 2014 Pioneer League MVP as a member of the Chukars, won the George Brett Hitter of the Year award given to the top position player in the organization. O’Hearn his .263 with 21 doubles, 27 homers and 77 RBIs in 127 games for Wilmington and Lexington.

Nonprofit/charitable opportunities at Melaleuca Field

The Idaho Falls Chukars will be offering several opportunities for nonprofit and charitable organizations to enjoy games for free this summer.

The Rocky Mountain Power Community Section will provide 20 seats for each home game to a local nonprofit or charitable organization. For information, call the Chukars at 522-8363.

The Fred Meyer Community Spotlight program will offer local nonprofit and charitable organizations to set up a table at the entrance to Melaleuca Field for direct fan interaction. There is no cost for the table. Call 522-8363 for information.

Amalani Fukofuka keeps rolling in Chukars’ 13-4 win

Amalani Fukofuka of the Idaho Falls Chukars slides past Missoula Osprey catcher Luke Lowery as he scores the first run of the game Friday at Melaleuca Field. (Photographer Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)
Amalani Fukofuka of the Idaho Falls Chukars slides past Missoula Osprey catcher Luke Lowery as he scores the first run of the game Friday at Melaleuca Field. (Photographer Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)


When outfielder Amalani Fukofuka comes to home plate, Idaho Falls Chukars fans shower him with chants of “Fooooook.”

Fukofuka (pronounced “Fuke-oh-fuke-uh”) has become a fan favorite in his 26 games with the Chukars this season. Part of that is because of his unique last name. Much more of that is a result of his performance.

Fukofuka is hitting .364 this season, with 10 doubles (tied for second in the Pioneer League), three triples (top 10) and six stolen bases (top 20). He continued his season-long tear with a 3 for 5 performance in Friday’s 13-4 win over the Missoula Osprey at Melaleuca Field. The Chukars swept the three-game home series against the Osprey.

“Hopefully I can keep it going,” Fukofuka said.

Chukars starting pitcher Derek Gordon cruised through his first four innings, and he struck out the first two batters of the fifth inning. But a single, double and walk forced him out of the game, preventing the right-hander from his first professional win.

“Especially in this game, it’s more about the team wins,” Gordon said. “(Pitching coach Jeff) Suppan really works with us in trying to keep the ball down and being competitive with every pitch, and that’s mostly what I focus on when a guy comes up.”

Gordon said fatigue got to him in the fifth, and with roughly 80 pitches after the walk, Gordon was nearing his pitch count limit, so manager Justin Gemoll decided to replace him.

“I was frustrated with myself more than anything,” Gordon said.

Fellow right-hander Alberto Rodriguez kept Gordon’s earned run total at one, going 2.1 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Rodriguez has not allowed an earned run in 13 innings pitched this season, despite seven walks (he’s allowed two unearned runs).

Isan Diaz, of the Missoula Osprey, narrowly escapes being tagged out at second by Idaho Falls Chukars shortstop Jeckson Flores on Friday at Melaleuca Field.     (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)
Isan Diaz, of the Missoula Osprey, narrowly escapes being tagged out at second by Idaho Falls Chukars shortstop Jeckson Flores on Friday at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)

As strong as Fukofuka has been at the plate this season, he hasn’t been perfect. The 19-year-old has drawn four walks despite leading the Chukars with 118 at-bats. He also hasn’t hit a home run this season, and he’s blasted two in his three-year professional career.

“I’m pretty aggressive. That’s partly why I don’t have as many walks as other people,” Fukofuka said. “But that’s fine with me as long as I’m hitting the ball hard.”

Second baseman DJ Burt went 1 for 2 with three walks, giving him a team-high 18 bases on balls. Burt’s patience is a pleasant sign for Idaho Falls’ coaching staff, considering he’s batting .191.

Designated hitter Ryan Dale hit his first professional home run in the top of the eighth, a three-run shot to give Idaho Falls a 13-4 lead.

The Chukars (10-19) host Great Falls (14-11) at 7:15 p.m. tonight for the first game in a four-game series.

O’Hearn promoted

First baseman Ryan O’Hearn moved up from Idaho Falls to the Kansas City Royals short-season Single-A affiliate Lexington to start this season. On Friday, O’Hearn moved up from the Legends to the advanced Single-A Wilmington Blue Rocks.

O’Hearn won the Pioneer League MVP last season with the Chukars. He hit .361 with 13 home runs and a .444 on-base percentage in 249 at-bats for Idaho Falls.

This season in 314 at-bats with Lexington, O’Hearn hit .277 with 19 home runs and a .351 on-base percentage.

17 year-old Gasparini’s big night gives Chukars 8-3 win in season finale


Idaho Falls Chukars short stop Marten Gasparini slides into third base during Thursday's season finale against the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field. Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com

Last Friday, Marten Gasparini went 0 for 2 with two errors in the Burlington Royals’ season finale.

Fortunately for Gasparini, this wasn’t his last game.

The 17-year-old Italy native traveled from North Carolina to Idaho Falls and played in the Chukars’ final five games. He saved his best for last, going 3 for 3 with a three-run home run in Idaho Falls’ 8-3, season-ending win over the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field on Thursday night. The game was a satisfying end to a mediocre season for both Gasparini and the Chukars (38-38).

“I’ll go into (Fall Instructional League) with a much better mindset,” Gasparini said Thursday.

Gasparini sparked the Chukars’ first rally with a one-out single in the first inning, and he moved to third on Samir Duenez’s single the following at-bat. On a 1-1 count with two outs, Duenez took off for second. Odgen’s catcher threw to second in attempt to catch Duenez stealing. Meanwhile, Gasparini sprinted toward home. The throw took one hop in front of the second baseman, who bobbled the ball, allowing Duenez to notch the steal and Gasparini to score.

The Raptors struck back in the third. With two outs and a runner on first, Cody Bellinger blasted a triple into the left center field gap. Gasparini handled the relay but his throw to third was off line and bounced into Odgen’s dugout. The error allowed Bellinger to score, giving Odgen a 2-1 lead.

Idaho Falls answered in the bottom half of the inning, with Gasparini leading the charge again. He hit a two-out single and scored the next at-bat on a double down the left field line by Duenez.

Idaho Falls’ Jecksson Flores hit a one-out single the next inning and moved over to third on a single by Cesar Gonzalez. Desmond Henry walked to load the bases and Brandon Downes drove in Flores with a sacrifice fly to deep right.

Next up was Gasparini, who crushed a three-run home run to right, putting the Chukars up 6-2 and essentially sealing the victory.

“He’s still young, still learning, but it’s exciting to watch him play,” Chukars manager Omar Ramirez said of Gasparini.

Chukars first baseman and Pioneer League MVP Ryan O’Hearn lauded Gasparini’s defense, in addition to his offensive firepower.

“I sure wasn’t that good when I was 17,” O’Hearn said.

Continue reading “17 year-old Gasparini’s big night gives Chukars 8-3 win in season finale”

Chukars stay driven in 9-4 win over Raptors


The only difference for the Idaho Falls Chukars on Thursday night was the wind howling out to left center field.

The Chukars, who were eliminated from the Pioneer League playoffs four days ago, played their second-to-last game of the season Wednesday against the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field. While the outcome was meaningless, Idaho Falls’ players and coaches said they treated the game like any other. They wouldn’t want to take a game lightly no matter how unimportant it was.

The final outcome — a 9-4 Chukars victory — illustrated their business-like approach.

“That’s being a professional,” Idaho Falls manager Omar Ramirez said.

The Chukars’ offense put up five runs in the first inning, all with two outs.

Pioneer League MVP Ryan O’Hearn started the rally with a walk. Robert Pehl followed with a single, then O’Hearn and Pehl moved up a base on a wild pitch before scoring on Samir Duenez’s single. Brawlun Gomez followed with another single, and Mike Hill made the score 4-0 with a triple to right center. Pedro Gonzalez completed the scoring with a bloop double to right.

The Chukars added on in the third when Duenez, who hit a leadoff triple, scored on a passed ball.

Continue reading “Chukars stay driven in 9-4 win over Raptors”

Raptors rally for 12-5 win over Chukars

The Ogden Raptors rallied from an early 4-1 deficit and rolled to a 12-5 win over the Idaho Falls Chukars on Tuesday in Ogden, Utah.

It was the final road game of the season for the Chukars, who fell to 36-38 overall and 16-20 in the second half.

The Chukars took a 3-0 lead in the fourth on an RBI double from Ryan O’Hearn, a wild pitch and an error. Ogden got a run back in the bottom of the inning before I.F. regained its three-run lead in the sixth on Jecksson Flores’ RBI groundout that scored Brandon Thomasson.

Ogden broke things open with four runs in the bottom of the sixth and four more in the seventh. Julian Leon and Jacob Scavuzzo both hit two-run homers in the sixth, while the Raptors scored on a bases-loaded walk, a two-run single from Alex Verdugo and an RBI groundout from Scavuzzo.

The Raptors added three more runs in the eighth with a two-run single from Leon and a sac fly by Yensys Capellan.

O’Hearn had another big day for the Chukars, going 2 for 5 with a run scored and an RBI. Shortstop Corey Toups also went 2 for 5 and scored a run.

Kyle Zimmer made his final rehab appearance, going 0.2 innings while allowing a hit and a walk and striking out two.

Torey Deshazier took the loss, allowing five runs, four earned, on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 5.1 innings.

Bernardo Reyes pitched two innings of relief to earn the win, allowing one run on one hit with a walk and two strikeouts.

The Raptors (37-36, 22-13 second half) and Chukars now head to Melaleuca Field to finish off the regular season. The teams will play today and Thursday at 7:15 p.m. Ogden has clinched the top spot in the Pioneer League South Division second-half standings and will face Orem in the first round of the playoffs beginning this weekend. The Chukars have been eliminated.

Chukars snap Raptors’ six-game win streak

The Idaho Falls Chukars used a strong start from Jake Newberry and a big seventh inning to hold off the Ogden Raptors 6-5 on Monday in front of 2,622 fans at Lindquist Field.

The Chukars trailed 3-2 entering the seventh when they scored four runs on four hits, two walks, an error and a balk to take a 6-3 lead. Corey Toups, Ryan O’Hearn and Samir Duenez had RBIs in the inning while the other run scored on an error.

Ogden scored two runs in the ninth and had home run leader Justin Chigbogu up with a man on and two outs, but the 6-foot-4, 250 pounder flied out to deep right off Nick Green to end the game.

Duenez had a big night, going 3 for 5 while O’Hearn walked three times and drove in two runs.

Newberry finished his season in style, allowing three runs, two earned on seven hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in six innings. Jon Fitzsimmons allowed two runs, one earned, in 2.1 innings of relief and Green got the final two outs to earn his fourth save.

The Chukars and Raptors play against tonight at Ogden before heading to Melaleuca for the final two games of the regular season Wednesday and Thursday.

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