Burlington Braves

From BR Bullpen

Team History[edit]

In 1988, the Midwest League team in Burlington changed affiliations from the Montreal Expos to Atlanta and correspondingly changed their name from the Burlington Expos to Burlington Braves. In their first year, the Braves set a new attendance record for Burlington, IA with 78,308 fans; they were only 13th in the 14-team league in attendance, though. Managed by Grady Little through May 23 and Rick Albert thereafter, the Braves were 4th in the southern division in the first half (37-31) but last in the second half (23-49). Overall, they were outscored 736-603 and allowed the second-most runs in the MWL. Lacking any All-Stars, the team produced a couple players who had productive major-league careers in OF Al Martin and P Mike Stanton. Stanton (11-5, 3.62) led the staff in wins and struck out either 160 or 161 batters in 154 innings (Baseball America lists 161, The Sporting News 160), placing him fourth in the league in strikeouts. Martin hit .279/~.327/.379 and stole 40 bases in 52 tries. The team also had first baseman Brian R. Hunter, who tied for the MWL lead with 22 homers. Hunter hit .259/~.343/.458.

The 1989 Burlington club continued to do poorly in the field (60-77, 12th of 14 teams in the league) with new manager Jim Saul. Attendance improved to 82,936, 10th in the circuit, setting another new record for Burlington. Outscored 622-513, Burlington did have three of the top 10 prospects according to a poll of league managers - 3B Tom Redington was rated the top prospect, with P Lee Upshaw #3 and P Turk Wendell #9. Wendell (9-11, 2.21) was seventh in the league in ERA, led in shutouts (5) and tied Chuck Ricci of Waterloo for the lead with nine complete games. Upshaw went 5-3 with a 2.09 ERA in 12 starts, striking out 100 in 90 innings, walking 24 and allowing 67 hits. Redington was the post-season All-Star 3B, All-Star game MVP and home run king, knocking out 17 in 85 games. He was voted MWL MVP as well after his .299/~.405/.521 year; he would have been 4th in average and 1st in slugging had he been among the qualifiers in plate appearances and he walked (53) more than he struck out (47 times). SS-3B Mike Mordecai (.253/~.343/.320) had the longest big-league career of any of their position players.

Saul's squad started the 1990 season 42-26, finishing second in the south in the first half, then went 35-33 in the second half. They outscored opponents 646-570. Attendance remained stable (81,230, 11th in the loop). While the team had no All-Stars, they did have two of the top prospects. Baseball America rated SS Ramon Caraballo the 7th-best MWL prospect, while C Javy Lopez was picked at #8. Caraballo (.290/~.379/.462, 41 SB in 61 tries, 83 runs) hit a league-leading 14 triples and was 7th in average, while Lopez batted .265/~.297/.438, striking out 84 times while drawing only 14 walks. DH-SS Brent McCoy (.304/~.389/.390, 17 for 20 in SB) was third in the MWL in average and led with 10 sacrifice flies. Pedro Borbon (11-3, 1.47, 0.98 WHIP) and Dave Nied (5-3, 2.25, 66 K in 64 IP) did well in half a season, while Matt Murray went 11-7 with a 3.26 ERA in a full year.

The team changed affiliations again in 1991 and became the Burlington Astros.

Sources: 1989-1991 Baseball Almanacs, 1989 and 1991 Baseball Guides

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs Hitting Coach Pitching Coach Coach
1988 60-80 11th Grady Little (20-22) / Rick Albert (40-58) Gil Garrido Jack Aker
1989 60-77 12th Jim Saul Ross Grimsley Steve Curry
1990 78-59 4th Jim Saul Phillip Wellman Eddie Watt Gil Garrido