Similar to Syracuse, Rochester is battling through a title drought of their own. Luckily for the Red Wings it isn’t nearly as long for them as it has been for the Chiefs. The “Flower City” brought home the Governors’ Cup home a little over 20 years ago. Managed by Marv Foley, the Red Wings won 83 games in 1997, and defeated the Columbus Clippers three games to two to capture the crown. With the title, Foley became the only manager to win a championship in all three Triple-A leagues (at the time).
The Red Wings at the time were the top affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.
Several players from the ’97 team went on to play in the major leagues. Listed below are mainly the starters for that team.
Tommy Davis, 1B – Davis was drafted in the second round of the 1994 draft by the Orioles. From the time he was drafted to his time with the Red Wings, Davis was pretty productive. In 1997 he hit .306 with 15 home runs and 62 RBI in 119 games. He made his major league debut in May of 1999 for the Baltimore Orioles. He played in five games collecting one hit in six at-bats. That would be his only appearance in the big leagues.
Francisco Matos, 2B – Matos was signed out of the Dominican Republic. He made his major league debut in 1994 with the Oakland Athletics. Prior to signing with the Orioles in 1997, Matos bounced around to several organizations but never made it back to MLB after ’94. For the Red Wings that season, Francisco hit .324 which was his highest average in the minors in 101 games.
P.J. Forbes, 3B,2B – Forbes was drafted by the California Angels in the 20th round of the 1990 draft. He signed with the Orioles in 1997 as a free agent and was assigned to the Red Wings. Playing a couple of positions for Rochester, Forbes ended the season hitting .272 in 116 games. He would make his major league debut as a part of the Orioles in 1998 playing in nine games. Forbes did return back to MLB in 2001 as a part of the Phillies adding just three more games to his resume.
Aaron Ledesma, SS – The Mets made Ledesma their second round selection back in the 1990 draft. He would make his MLB debut as a member of the Mets before finding his way over to the Orioles organization as a free agent in 1997. Ledesma hit .325 as a member of the championship team and would earn himself another shot in the majors. He would hit .352 for the Orioles in 43 games. Baltimore would lose him to the Tampa Bay Rays in the expansion draft.
Danny Clyburn, LF – Clyburn was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second round of the 1992 draft. He was traded to Baltimore from Cincinnati in 1995. After an extremely successful 1997 with Rochester, where Clyburn would hit 20 bombs and drive in 76, he would get the call up to debut with the Orioles that September. He would get into just two games. It would be an unfortunate end to Clyburn as he was murdered in 2012 after an argument in South Carolina.
Lou Frazier, CF – Frazier was the elder statesmen on the 1997 Red Wings team. Drafted in 1985 by the Detroit Tigers. After kicking around in the minors for nearly 7 years, Frazier would make his major league debut with the Montreal Expos. He’d play parts of four seasons in the majors before signing with the Orioles as a free agent. He hit .248 as a 32-year old for the Red Wings in 1997.
Scott Bullett, RF – Bullett was signed as an amateur free agent in 1998 by the Pittsburgh Pirates. All of his major league experience would be prior to his time with Rochester in 1997. He hit .250 for the Red Wings. He would leave for Japan and Mexico after the 2001 season ending his playing days in 2006.
B.J. Waszgis, C – The Baltimore Orioles selected Waszgis in the 10th round of the 1991 draft. After making his way to the Triple-A level with the Orioles, Waszgis was selected off waivers following the 1997 season. For Rochester though, he hit .260 with 13 home runs. He would make his major league debut in 2000 as a member of the Texas Rangers.
Nerio Rodriguez, P – The Orioles signed Rodriguez out of the Dominican Republic in 1995. He made his MLB debut in 1996 pitching in eight games for the Orioles. He had an 11-win season in 1997 for Rochester and was a big part on the championship team. Baltimore traded him at the deadline in 1998 to the Toronto Blue Jays. Rodriguez would make it back to the show for three different teams.
Rick Krivda, P – Krivda was the 23rd round selection of the Baltimore Orioles in 1991. He enjoyed much success at the minor league level and was rewarded with a call up in 1995. He led the Rochester Red Wings in wins in 1997 with 14. He lost just twice that season in 22 appearances, with 21 being starts. He was selected off waivers in the offseason by the Cleveland Indians.
Esteban Yan, P – Another signee out of the Dominican Republic, Yan started his career as a member of the Atlanta Braves organization. After being traded to the Montreal Expos by the Braves, Yan was purchased by the Orioles in April of 1996. He would spend 11 years in the major leagues making it as far as the ALCS in 2005 as a member of the Angels. In 1997 with Rochester, Yan won 11 games with an ERA of 3.10.
Jimmy Haynes, P – Haynes was by far the most successful major league player that was a part of the 1997 Rochester team. He played for four teams during his MLB career and was a 15-game winner in 2002 with the Cincinnati Reds. He was 5-4 for the Red Wings in 1997, but it was after that where he took off.