Beating the Bushes: Top Farm Clubs in Brewers History: #4 Denver Zephyrs, 1991


Mar 3, 2014; Jupiter, FL, USA; Houston Astros third base coach Pat Listach (4) tosses a foul ball for some fans during a game against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly four months ago, I began a weekly series looking back at some of the top farm squads in the history of Brewers baseball, dating back to 1970 when the Seattle Pilots headed northeast from spring training in Arizona and became the Milwaukee Brewers. I have not included short-season Class A or Rookie ball teams, as their seasons are generally too short to compare to full-season squads in A, AA, and AAA levels.

With this week’s edition of Beating the Bushes, I present the #4 team on my list:

#4 Denver Zephyrs, 1991

The Zephyrs not only won the American Association title, but they beat Columbus of the International League to win the Triple A crown in 1991.

Tony Muser led Denver to a 79-65 record in regular season play in the American Association West division and drew over 550,000 fans at Mile High Stadium.

As to be expected in Denver, the offense put up great numbers while the pitching staff gave them up.

The hitters led the league in runs scored (735) and batting average (.271), placed second in home runs (99), and finished third in steals (127).

The pitching staff had the third-most whiffs in the league (888) but placed in the bottom half in most other categories. The team finished second with a fielding average of .976.

Forty-seven players suited up during the season, with 41 of them seeing time in the big leagues at some point in their careers.

Among the league leaders were Jim Olander, leading the league with a .325 average; Tim McIntosh with 91 RBIs; and Cal Eldred with 168 strikeouts. Eldred finished runner-up in the win department with 13.

Eldred had a great season and went on to play 14 years in the majors, including nine with Milwaukee. In 341 games pitched (192 starts) he went 86-74. He finished fourth in the 1992 American League Rookie of the Year voting and won a career-high 16 games in 1993. After a 2002 injury, he came back in a relief role for three years and notched nine saves.

Pitcher Darren Holmes only made three appearances in 1991, but would go on to pitch 13 years in the bigs. In 557 games, he won 35 games and notched 59 saves, including a career-high 25 for Colorado in 1993.

Right-hander Mike Ignasiak went 9-5 in 22 starts for Denver. He pitched in Milwaukee for four years, going 10-4 in 79 games.

Catcher/first baseman/outfielder McIntosh had a great year in 1991 and played five years in ‘The Show.’ In 71 games, he hit two home runs and played for Milwaukee, Montreal, and the Yankees.

HR: Tim McIntosh (18)
RBI: Tim McIntosh (91)
BA: Jim Olander (.325)
SB: John Cangelosi (26)

W: Cal Eldred (13)
ERA: Chris George (2.33)
K: Cal Eldred (168)
SV: Doug Henry (14)
WHIP: Chris George (1.176)

C: Joe Kmak
1B: Tim McIntosh/George Canale
2B: Pat Listach/Charlie Montoya
3B: David Smith/Sandy Guerrero
SS: Charlie Montoya/David Smith
OF: Jim Olander
OF: Matias Carrillo
OF: Mickey Brantley
SP: Cal Eldred
SP: Mike Ignasiak
SP: Mark Kiefer
SP: Jim Hunter
SP: Narciso Elvira
CL: Doug Henry

ONE LAST HURRAH: Carmelo Castillo

Carmelo Castillo began as an outfielder in the Phillies organization, beginning his pro career in 1978 at Helena in the Pioneer League (Rookie).

It took him five years, but he cracked the big leagues for Cleveland in 1982 and played for the Indians for seven years.

Castillo’s best season was 1984, when he slashed 261/329/464 with 10 homers and 36 RBIs in 211 at-bats.

The right-handed hitter from San Pedro de Macoris was a solid part-time player and would go on to log over 1500 ABs in ten major league seasons.

He was traded to Minnesota during Spring Training in 1989 and played well (257/305/454) in 94 games.

In 1990, he hit no homers and batted only .219 in 137 at-bats.

He began the 1991 season in Minnesota, but after a 2-for-12 start in nine games was released in early May.

Two weeks later, he was signed as a free agent by the Brewers and was assigned to Class AAA Denver.

In 92 games in the ‘Mile High City,’ Castillo played 92 games and had 334 ABs. He slashed 302/341/509 and banged out 14 homers and 72 ribbies in part-time action. Had he played a whole season, he would have likely led the team in dingers and runs batted in.

Carmelo Castillo had a nice big league career and went out on a ‘high’ note in the Mile High City.