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Minor leaguers mean business

As another season comes to a close, local rookies got right to work, while veterans made stops at lower levels.

October 13, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
  • Crescenta Valley High alum Bryan Longpre helped the Vancouver Canadians win the Northwest League championship.
Crescenta Valley High alum Bryan Longpre helped the Vancouver… (Vancouver Canadians )

It was a season marked by celebration for many of the local athletes currently plying their trade in baseball's minor leagues.

Whether it was celebration of one's talent in the form of an all-star or MVP nod, or a dog pile on the infield in exultation of a team championship, accomplishments abounded for alumni of the area's high schools and Glendale Community College.

Rookies enjoyed some of the most notable success, as Joe De Pinto and Bryan Longpre, in his first full pro season, both won team titles in their respective leagues and Christian Bergman came a game away from being able to say the same.

Billy Spottiswood also tasted championship glory, as other veterans like Fernando Valenzuela, Jr., a first-time all-star, showed they still have plenty of game.

Big leaguers Trevor Bell and Doug Slaten showed that the road to the majors is indeed a two-wat street, as both established hurlers spent time back on the farm.

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The following is a recap of the highlights of locals that donned a cap and cleats to live the dream of being a professional baseball player:

Christian Bergman (St. Francis High, 2006) Tri-City Dust Devils starting pitcher: In his rookie season with the Class-A Short Season Northwest League affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, Bergman managed to pack in plenty of accomplishments, including an all-star nod and two playoff wins.

After winning the Northwest League East Division with a 44-32 record, the Dust Devils swept the Boise Hawks in a best-of-three series to open the playoffs and advance to the league-championship series against the Vancouver Canadians. Bergman allowed two runs over six innings to pitch the team to a 5-3 second-game win over Vancouver on Sept. 10, Tri-City's lone victory in the best-of-three set.

"Obviously, I would have liked for us to get that last game, but it was a great experience," Bergman said of his first year as a pro, in which he went 7-5 with a 2.59 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 97 1/3 innings pitched during the regular season. "I really learned a lot, it was a great group of guys and I had a lot of fun."

On Sept. 5, the former UC Irvine standout notched his first career playoff win, tossing seven two-hit, shutout innings in a 6-0 win over the Hawks.

"I was surprised just how much I was really relaxed going into that game," Bergman said. "[Against Vancouver] that was just more of a gutsy performance, especially in front of that crowd. They're just a tough team — they won it all."

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