In the River Cats’ 11 seasons, hundreds of players have called Sacramento home, winning championships at the Minor League level while aspiring to break into the Majors.
The River Cats have seen players such as Barry Zito and Bobby Crosby make their mark with the Oakland A’s. Zito was awarded the 2002 AL CY Young after going 23-5 in 2002. Crosby was the 2004 AL Rookie of the Year, one vote shy of being a unanimous selection.
Other players like Carlos Gonzalez and Nick Swisher have found themselves in different organizations, reaching goals they had while they were playing in Sacramento. “Cargo” was an MVP candidate last season, earning a Gold Glove and sharing Silver Slugger honors with AL MVP Josh Hamilton. Swisher was an All-Star last season for the Yankees, hitting .288 with 29 home runs and 89 RBIs.
This blog will take a weekly look at three former River Cats:
Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers (River Cats, 2005)
Ethier, who played only four games with Sacramento in 2005, made his mark on the Majors earlier this season. While some Major Leaguers struggle to put a five-game hit streak together, Ethier had a 30-game hit streak before his run at Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak came to an end.
Byrnes, Retired (River Cats, 2000-02)
Byrnes was a fan favorite in Sacramento, and still remains in the top-10 of a few offensive categories. Entering 2011, Byrnes is seventh in total home runs (33), 10th in RBI (114s), eight in runs (152), eighth in doubles (53) and fifth in steals (42).
Byrnes soon found himself in the Majors, but bounced around the league before retiring last year. Byrnes played in Oakland, Colorado, Baltimore, Arizona and Seattle, hitting .258 with 109 homers in 11 seasons. Byrnes made the jump from player to media member months after playing his last game. Byrnes currently works for KNBR and hosts a nightly talk show.
Jemile Weeks, Oakland A’s (River Cats, 2011)
Weeks started the season in Sacramento, where in 45 games he hit .321, with six doubles, four triples, 30 runs and 22 RBIs. The lead-off man for the River Cats made his first jump to Oakland on June 7 after A’s second-baseman Mark Ellis went down with an injury.
Weeks has taken advantage of his opportunity in Oakland, where in his first nine Major League games he has hit .344 with two doubles, three triples and five RBIs. Jemile is the younger brother of Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks.