September 26, 2021

‘Extra Outfielder’ Now a Hitting Star

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

     In forging their way to the best record in the Atlantic League, the Long Island (NY) Ducks have relied on the talents of such established players at this level of play as John Rodriguez, Lew Ford, J. R. House, Ray Navarrete and Javier Colina.  It is a substantial group. 

       And they have Kraig Binick, at least if they can keep him healthy.

      Binick is a rarity for the Atlantic League in that the onetime Baltimore draftee has only three games as high as Class AA in more than four seasons since he left the New York Institute of Technology, where he hit .406 as a senior.

      “He came in as an extra outfielder”, said first-year Manager Kevin Baez, who noted that he told the 26-year-old Binick they would have to see what opportunities opened up.  The signing in Long Island followed a season in the Can-Am League where he put up a workmanlike .289 average, hit 18 doubles and stole 45 bases for Sussex in Augusta, NJ.

       “The Can-Am League, I think I needed to go there,” Binick said.  “Those guys can play over there.  I had the ability and talent”.  But he also feels he is using his talent better now, “using my hands more and trusting myself”, and in addition praises the opportunity to be around more players who have been at a higher level.  “Every day you get more information,” he explained.  “The depth in this league is tremendous.”

      The 5-foot-11 native of Long Island, who bats right and throws left, has missed about two weeks, first with a hamstring issue, then he suffered a broken eye socket and needed stitches when he took a foot to the face while sliding into second base in Lancaster, PA recently.  Binick is currently wearing what he calls a hockey-like visor to protect his face.  He likely will have it at least two more weeks.

      While he has tailed off by going 3-for-24 since the latest injury, Binick still ranks second in the Atlantic League in hitting (.359, and three points behind Southern Maryland’s Yunesky Sanchez among players still in the league) and on-base percentage (trailing Josh Pressley of Somerset, NJ,  .460 to .449) and is setting the pace with 16 stolen bases.

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First Three Indy Stints, Now Keisler Back in Form

      One of the more heart-warming tales of the season has to be that of veteran southpaw Randy Keisler, who endured two shoulder surgeries, a divorce, his father’s stroke and hints from friends that maybe he should look for another way to make a living.

      But after starting his way back with three Independent teams the last two seasons (Southern Maryland, Atlantic League in ’09 and Pensacola, FL (American Association) and Long Island, NY (Atlantic) last year, Keisler signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers during the offseason and made their Triple-A Albuquerque team out of spring training.  A groin injury gave the well-traveled former major leaguer one more disabled list stint, but he has a dazzling 0.35 earned run average since June 2 (one run in 25.2 innings) and earned Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week honors June 6-12.

      He had a 10-strikeout game this week, and has won four in a row to improve to 4-2, 3.51.  “I’m going to give it all I’ve got,” Keisler told The Albuquerque Baseball Examiner.  “I’m 35 years old, but my arm is better than it’s been in six years.  I’ve always believed in myself if I was healthy I could pitch.  I’m focused and just happy to be here again.”


Fans Get in on the Thrill as Pitcher’s Contract Is Sold to Phils

      As one who likes to see a few theatrics when the situation allows, it was nice to hear how the Lincoln (NE) Saltdogs chose to alert their fans to the fact team strikeout leader Tommy Palica had just seen his contract purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies.

      When Palica was taken out of an American Association game this week, the public address announcer made the announcement as Palica was approaching the dugout where teammates were waiting with embraces.

      Palica’s 43 strikeouts in 43.1 innings this season (2-1, 3.12) should not be surprising since the 23-year-old lefty fanned 253 batters in 224 innings during his first four professional seasons leading up to 2011, all in the Atlanta Braves minor league system.

        (This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes year round on Independent Baseball.  Fans may subscribe at newly reduced rates at, enjoy his blogs, and, or comment to  The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)



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