The Kane County Cougars have announced the organization’s silver anniversary team as part of commemorations of a quarter century of Cougars baseball in Geneva.
Fans will be treated to a special giveaway on July 30 as the first 1,500 receive a 25th anniversary team card set.
The anniversary team includes:
Starting Pitchers: Josh Beckett, Dallas Braden, A.J. Burnett, Ryan Dempster, Dontrelle Willis.
Beckett (2000) was a three-time Major League All-Star and bookended his career with a 2003 World Series MVP award for the Florida Marlins and a no-hitter thrown in 2014 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Braden (2004) threw a perfect game with Oakland in 2010 and interestingly enough, was on the mound for the Cougars in 2004 when then-state representative Barack Obama threw a ceremonial first pitch before a Kane County game. Burnett (1998) is the lone remaining active big leaguer who pitched for the Cougars during the ‘90’s decade. The right-hander holds the Cougars’ single-season record for most strikeouts with 186 and has 11 big league seasons with 10 or more wins. Dempster (1996) won a 2013 World Series championship with Boston and won 10 or more games in nine big league seasons. Willis (2002) was teammates with Beckett in 2003 with the Marlins and was named National League Rookie of the Year that season.
Relief Pitchers: Antonio Alfonseca, Andrew Bailey, Santiago Casilla, Huston Street.
Alfonseca (1994) received the 2000 Rolaids Relief Pitcher Award while saving 45 games that season with Florida. Andrew Bailey (2007) was named American League Rookie of the Year in 2009 with Oakland and is a two-time Major League All-Star. Santiago Casilla (2003-04) is a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Street (2004) is currently 27th on the all-time Major League saves list with 292.
Catcher: Charles Johnson, Gregg Zaun.
Johnson (1993) was a two-time Major League All-Star, four-time Gold Glove Award winner and 1997 World Series champion with the Florida Marlins. Zaun (1991) was part of the inaugural Cougars season and enjoyed a 16-year big league career.
First Base: Ross Gload, Adrian Gonzalez.
Gload (1998) enjoyed a 10-year big league playing career. Gonzalez (2001) is a four-time Major League All-Star, has won four Gold Gloves, a pair of Silver Slugger awards and is regarded as one of the most well-rounded Major Leaguers.
Second Base: Luis Castillo, Jemile Weeks.
Castillo (1995) was a two-time Major League All-Star and World Series champion with the Florida Marlins. Weeks (2008) batted .303 in his rookie season with Oakland in 2011.
Shortstop: Alex Gonzalez, Edgar Renteria.
Gonzalez (1996) was a Major League All-Star in 1999 and a member of the Florida Marlins 2003 World Series championship squad. Renteria (1993) was a five-time big league All-Star, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner and two-time World Series MVP with Florida and San Francisco.
Third Base: Jeff Baisley, Miguel Cabrera.
Baisley (1996) made his big league debut with Oakland in 2008 and holds the Cougars’ franchise record for most RBI in a season with 110. Cabrera (2001) won the Triple Crown in 2012 (the first occurrence since 1967), is a 9-time Major League All-Star and has won a pair of American League MVP awards.
Outfield: Nelson Cruz, Andre Ethier, Mark Kotsay, Scott Podsednik.
Cruz (2003) is a three-time Major League All-Star and has clubbed 20 or more home runs in six straight seasons. Ethier (2003) is a two-time big league All-Star and has more than 600 career RBI. Kotsay (1996) drove in 720 runs in his big league career. Podsednik (1997) was a member of the Chicago White Sox 2005 World Series championship squad and was also a Major League All-Star that season.
Designated Hitter: Kevin Millar. Millar (1994) was part of the Boston Red Sox 2004 World Series championship team and had 7 seasons with 15 or more home runs. Fans can regularly hear his colorful analysis as part of the MLB Network.
Field Staff: Lynn Jones (Manager), Matt Winters (Hitting Coach), Brian Peterson (Pitching Coach).
Jones (1994-97) won 275 regular season games at Kane County, led the Cougars to the 1997 Midwest League Championship Series and during his Cougars tenure, managed several future big league stars including the aforementioned Millar, Podsednik, Dempster and Alfonseca. Jones enjoyed an eight-year playing career and was part of the Kansas City Royals’ 1985 World Series championship team. Winters (1996-2001) was hitting coach of the 2001 Midwest League champion Cougars squad that included Cabrera, Gonzalez and Josh Willingham. Peterson (1993-97) spent 5 seasons as Cougars pitching coach and worked with Alfonseca and Dempster, among many other future big leaguers during his time at Kane County.
The Kane County Cougars, Major League affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, are the only Major League affiliated Minor League Baseball team in the Chicago area.
In 2013, the Cougars became the first Class-A team in Minor League Baseball history to reach 10 million fans.