Saint Louis alumnus
League made jump from
Class AA to the majors

The pitcher is one of seven players with Hawaii
ties that competed in Double A this summer

Second of five parts

Chad Santos and Brandon League spent the entire summer with Class AA teams.

League then experienced a ballplayer's dream when the Toronto Blue Jays purchased his contract after the minor league season finished in September.

Shane Victorino dropped from Class AAA and Bronson Sardinha and Rex Rundgren were promoted from Class A.

Brandon Chaves, in his first Class AA season, and Shane Komine, starting his first full Class AA season, had their summers cut short by injuries.

League, in his fourth pro season after being drafted out of Saint Louis in the second round in 2001, advanced to Class AA during spring training and spent the season with the New Hampshire (Manchester) Fisher Cats in the Eastern League.

He appeared in 41 games, started 10, closed six and worked in middle relief or as the setup man in the other games. In 104 innings, League allowed 92 hits, walked 41 and struck out 90. The right-hander was 6-4 with a 3.38 earned run average.

With the Blue Jays, League appeared in three games, pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowed three hits, no runs, walked one and struck out two. His one decision was a victory.

"Brandon pitched very well. His fastball is between 94-97 miles per hour with good movement," said Bruce Walton, the Toronto bullpen coach who was the Jays' minor league pitching coach until midway through the 2003 season.

"Brandon's change and his slider greatly improved since the last time I saw him in the minors. He really has kept the ball down and has been pounding the strike zone and attacking hitters. His mound presence has been great. He looked very good," said Walton, a right-hander who pitched for UH in the 1980s.

Santos led the Wichita Wranglers in games (130), at-bats (471), hits (123), total bases (219), doubles (27) and runs batted in (68) and there is a good reason for that.

"I platooned last year, but this year I got to play every day and I got to face more lefties. That's why my average (.261) wasn't so good," said Santos, who plans to play winter ball.

"I want to be an every day player. I was real happy with my defense. That improved over last year. It also is the first time I've hit 20 (he finished with 21) home runs in a season and I was really happy with that."

Santos, a Saint Louis graduate, tied for third in homers in the Texas League.

Victorino began the season in the Pacific Coast League with the Las Vegas 51s, but struggled at the plate with a .235 batting average. The Los Angeles Dodgers sent him to the Jacksonville Suns in the Southern League.

"I didn't have my left-handed swing in Vegas. When I got to Jacksonville, I found it and things just went up from there," said Victorino, who plays center field.

This was Victorino's second full season as a switch hitter.

"Things are getting better each year. I feel comfortable from both sides of the plate now," Victorino said.

The St. Anthony graduate flourished in Florida. The six-year pro was named the Southern League Player of the Month for August when he led the league in batting (.407), runs (29) and something rare for a leadoff hitter, slugging percentage (.707).

He compiled a .328 average with the Suns, leading the team in home runs (16), slugging percentage (.584) and on-base percentage (.375). The power surge, including three dingers for Las Vegas, surprised Victorino, who had hit just 15 homers in five previous seasons.

"I was just putting good swings on the ball. There was never any thought about going up to hit homers," said Victorino who will play winter ball in Venezuela for Zulia Aguilas.

I had a great season, had my best numbers and I hope I'm back with the Dodgers next year."

Sardinha started the season in the Class A Florida State League, where he hit .315 and earned a promotion to Class AA Trenton in the Eastern League

"It felt good to get the promotion. I kind of had a bad year last year and I didn't want it to get to me," said Sardinha, a Kamehameha graduate. "I worked on correcting the mistakes in the offseason.

The New York Yankees are sending Sardinha to the Arizona Fall League.

"The Yankees want me to keep learning and get better by facing better competition," said Sardinha, who played all but one of 118 games at third base this season. "I still have to work on my defense. I want to be more of an all-around player."

Sardinha slumped a little at the at the end of Trenton's season finishing with a .267 average. His two-team totals showed 29 doubles, four triples, eight home runs and 62 runs batted in.

Rundgren started in the FSL, hit .279 (his best start ever) for the Jupiter Hammerheads. He was promoted at midseason by the Florida Marlins to the Southern League's Carolina (Zebulon, N.C.) Mudcats.

The shortstop from Mid-Pacific Institute handled the promotion well, hitting .268 with seven doubles for Carolina.

Komine, a right-handed pitcher who was a member of the West team for the Texas League all-star game, had his season cut short by Tommy John surgery July 23.

He was 4-5 with a 4.55 ERA for the Texas League's Midland Rockhounds before surgery.

Komine (Kalani, Nebraska) is home rehabbing and hopes to be ready to pitch again by the middle of next season.

Chaves made the jump to Class AA after four years on lower-classification teams in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, but his season ended May 25 following a violent collision on the base paths with an opposing first baseman.

The former Hilo High School and Hawaii-Hilo standout tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in his left knee and was done for the season.

At the time, the shortstop was hitting .222 for the Eastern League's Altoona (Pa.) Curve.



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