No FSL Championship, but plenty to be pleased about for Miracle fans
The 2009 Fort Myers Miracle set a standard that in modern day minor league baseball is hard to achieve. The Miracle, for the first time in club history, captured the first and second half division titles. The topper to the season was the second straight appearance in the Florida State League Playoffs and third in four years. The Miracle posted an 80-58 overall record, finishing 40-29 at home and on the road, before falling in three games to Charlotte in the South Division Championship Series.
This season, 115,361 fans came to watch the Miracle play at Hammond Stadium. It was the fifth straight year that at least 115,000 fans come through the gates. The home opener set a club mark for opening night attendance, when 8,310 patrons witnessed the start to a record breaking season.
Fort Myers pitcher David Bromberg was named the 2009 Florida State League Post-Season Pitcher of the Year and manager Jeff Smith was honored as the FSL’s Manager of Year. The Florida State League Post-Season All-Star team featured first baseman Chris Parmelee and outfielder Ben Revere. Bromberg was selected as one of the four starting pitchers.
Bromberg, a 32nd round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in the 2005 MLB Draft, tied the club’s mark for single-season victories with 13. He went 13-4 with a 2.70 ERA (4th in FSL). The Los Angeles native led the league in strikeouts (148 in 153 1/3 innings) and was the starting pitcher for the South Division in the Florida State League All-Star Game in June at Hammond Stadium.
Parmelee used his Florida State League All-Star Home Run Derby title as a springboard for a solid second half. The former 2006 first-round pick of the Twins led the Miracle with 16 home runs (tied for third in league) and 73 RBI (tied for second in the league).
The Miracle were paced atop the order all season long by the speedy Revere. The Twins selected him with their first pick in the 2007 MLB Draft and have watched him excel for three straight years. He finish ed second in the league in batting with a .311 average and has swiped a career-high 45 bases. His 145 hits in 121 games paced the FSL in that category.
Smith’s Manager of the Year honor came on the heels of being named a 2008 Florida State League Post-Season Coach. After two years in Fort Myers, the former Miracle catcher has compiled a 157-117 mark and skippered the Miracle to back-to-back appearances in the post-season.
A mid-season highlight was the 48th annual Florida State League All-Star Game hosted by the Miracle. Pitchers Carlos Gutierrez, Spencer Steedley, Steve Hirschfeld, Bromberg, catcher Danny Lehmann, infielders Chris Cates, Steve Singleton and outfielders Revere and Parmelee were all selected to represent the hometown team. The Miracle staff – with Smith, pitching coach Steve Mintz, hitting coach Jim Dwyer, trainer Larry Bennese and strength coach Mike MacDonald – directed the South Division.
Several other Miracle players etched their names among the Florida State League’s leaders. Outfielder Mark Dolenc was solid all season with a .288 batting average (sixth in the league).
Hirschfeld began the year in the bullpen, but finished as one of the top starters in the league with a 7-7 record and a 2.23 ERA (second in the league). Tyler Robertson bounced back from an injury plagued 2008, with an 8-8 record and a 3.33 ERA.
As a team, the Miracle compiled the second best batting average in the league (.265) and the second best ERA (3.18).
Fans also witnessed another one-of-a kind event in Southwest Florida this summer. The Miracle had the shortest player in professional baseball, infielder Cates (5-foot-3), but also the tallest player in professional baseball, pitcher Loek Van Mil (7-foot-1). Both became instant fan favorites.
The Fort Myers Miracle made 54 roster moves this year. Scott Baker, Joe Mauer, Glen Perkins and Boof Bonser were on Fort Myers’s roster during some point this season as Major League rehabs. Former Miracle alums: Jason Bartlett, Justin Morneau, Mauer and Torii Hunter all were named to the Major League All-Star Game.
The 2010 season, the Miracle’s 19th as a High-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, will once again bring another summer of family, affordable entertainment to Southwest Florida.