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Top Hitters in Milwaukee Brewers Minor League History: #14 Carlos Ponce, El Paso

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Carlos Ponce was signed in 1980 as a free agent by the Milwaukee Brewers. The Puerto Rican native batted right and threw right, playing first base and outfield. He was not big (5’10”, 170#) but had gap power and decent speed. After signing with the Brewers he reported to Butte in the rookie Pioneer League, tearing it up to the tune of a .347/.392/.552 slash line in 285 plate appearances, finishing second in the league with 90 hits.

In 1981, he moved up to Burlington in the Class A Midwest League and had a decent year, slashing .269/.310/.441 with 47 long hits (doubles, triples, homers) in 520 trips to the plate. That season earned him a promotion to Stockton in the High A California League for 1982.

Ponce had another solid year, slashing .286/.335/.440 while leading the Cali League with 13 triples, showing off his speed. He also stole 17 bases, which placed sixth on his team, with the ‘go-go’ Ports swiping a total of 310 bases that year.

That led Ponce to El Paso, where he put up some amazing numbers at the hitting gallery called Dudley Field. Ponce was a bit older than league average (24 vs. 23.3) and also lost points for playing in the very hitter-friendly ‘Dudley Dome,’ but still had a great season.

#14 Carlos Ponce, 1983 El Paso (AA)

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Ponce ranked in the top five in the Texas League in several batting categories: first in hits (176), doubles (50), and total bases (299). He was third with 114 runs and a .348 batting average. His 111 runs batted in ranked fourth in the loop.

The Diablos had the best record in the Texas League, going 74-62 during the regular season, but they fell short in the playoffs, losing in the semi-final round. The Diablos couldn’t beat eventual league champ Beaumont, but did exact some early-season ‘pre-revenge’ as they hammered the Golden Gators 35-21 on April 30. That set a league record for most runs scored in a single game, and yes, it was a nine-inning contest!

Ponce moved up to AAA Vancouver in 1984 and had a pedestrian season, slashing .246/.293/.370 and reprised his Pacific Coast League season in 1985, where he fared much better.

After slashing .320/.378/.500 in 109 games, Ponce earned a promotion to ‘The Show.’

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Arriving in Milwaukee, Ponce made his major league debut on August 14 as a pinch-hitter, flying to right field for the final out in a 4-3 loss to Detroit. He made his first start the next day, batting second as the designated hitter. He went 0-for-4 and started his major league career 0-for-9 before banging a single off Chicago’s Gene Nelson.

Ponce finished the year 10-for-62, slashing a minuscule .161/.169/.242. He hit one home run off the White Sox’ Britt Burns.

Carlos Ponce spent five years in the Japanese Leagues (1986-1990) before retiring as a player. He smacked 119 homers in Japan, with a high of 35 in 1987.

In 1999, Ponce took the reins of the Stockton club in the California League, but his team struggled to a 57-83 mark.

But in 1983, Carlos Ponce succeeded well enough to be named the 14th-best hitter on the list of Top Hitters in Milwaukee Brewers Minor League History.

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