Two of Juneau's three minor leaguers have been promoted. Not only are they playing for new teams this season, but they're in new roles with those teams.
Left-handed pitcher Chad Bentz was promoted to the Brevard County Manatees in the Florida State League, the top Class A team in the Montreal Expos system. Last year Bentz was a starting pitcher for the Vermont Expos, a short-season Class A team in the New York-Penn League.
Right-handed pitcher Toby Staveland was promoted to the Macon (Ga.) Braves of the South Atlantic League, the top Class A team in the Atlanta Braves system. Staveland was a starting pitcher for the Jamestown (N.Y.) Jammers the past two years, another member of the New York-Penn League.
Both Bentz and Staveland have been pitching out of the bullpen so far this season.
Juneau's other minor leaguer, third baseman Rob Conway, will spend another season with the Cook County (Ill.) Cheetahs, a member of the independent Frontier League. Conway's season won't start until late May.
So far, things have been going well for Bentz, who has seen action in four games for the Manatees. Bentz has a 1.50 ERA in 6.0 innings, with an 0-0 record, two games finished and one save. Bentz has faced 20 hitters, giving up no hits, one walk, one earned run and striking out 10 batters.
Last year with Vermont, Bentz posted a 1-3 record in eight starts, posting a 4.91 ERA before being sidelined by a growth on his foot that eventually had to be removed by surgery. Bentz pitched 36.67 innings with 39 hits allowed, 20 earned runs, 11 walks and 38 strikeouts.
Bentz, who played two years of college baseball at Long Beach State, was a seventh-round pick by the Montreal Expos in last June's amateur draft, the third-highest pick ever for a player from Alaska. Coming out of high school, Bentz was drafted in the 34th round by the New York Yankees in the 1999 draft, but he chose to go to college instead of signing.
Staveland has also seen early success this season, though he hasn't pitched in a week because of a series of rainouts in Georgia. Staveland has a 3.00 ERA in two relief appearances, pitching 3.0 innings with a 0-0 record, one game finished and no saves. Staveland has faced 13 hitters, giving up three hits, one walk, one earned run and striking out two batters.
Last year with Jamestown, Staveland posted a 3-2 record in 15 appearances (11 starts), compiling a 4.14 ERA in 54.33 innings. Staveland, who missed a couple of starts with a tender arm, allowed 62 hits, 25 earned runs, 21 walks and had 42 strikeouts.
Staveland was undrafted out of high school, but he went to Mendocino Community College in Ukiah, Calif., for two years and the Braves made him a 44th-round pick in the 1999 draft.
Conway's second season with Cook County won't begin until May 29. Last year, Conway hit .296 in 152 at bats (45 games). He had 45 hits, including six doubles, one triple and no home runs, with 18 runs scored and 13 RBIs. Conway had 14 errors, 27 strikeouts, five stolen bases and seven walks.
Conway was not drafted, out of high school, junior college or after his senior year. But he spent two years at Mendocino Community College and earned a scholarship to play for Iowa State, which he led in RBIs two years and homers once.
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