CLINTON — Clinton LumberKings right-hander Kenn Kasparek will become the eighth pitcher in franchise history to win the Midwest League's ERA title.

Kasparek won't pitch again this season — he reached his inning limit —so he finished the 2009 campaign with a 2.41 ERA.

"It's exciting," Kasparek said. "There's so many great pitchers in this league, so it's cool to have that title."

Kasparek has not officially won the ERA crown because two games remain in the regular season. But West Michigan's Casey Crosby cannot pass him, and Kane County's Kenny Smalley most likely won't.

Crosby, who also owns a 2.41 ERA, has not pitched enough innings to qualify. He needs 7 1/3 innings for consideration, but West Michigan placed him on the seven-day disabled list Saturday, meaning he cannot pitch again until the playoffs.

Smalley, who was picked over Kasparek for the Midwest League postseason All-Star team, ranks second with a 2.73 ERA.

In order to pass Kasparek, Smalley needs to throw an incredible 18 shutout innings in Kane County's final two regular-season games.

Thus, Kasparek will become Clinton's first ERA champ since Salomon Torres in 1991.

"It is pretty shocking, because of the way I started the season," Kasparek said. "It was bad. I really had to refocus and focus my attention on developing and trying to help the team and trying to get better."

Kasparek, a 12th-round pick in the 2008 amateur draft, went 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in April.

But the 6-foot-8, 200-pounder responded with a 1.41 ERA in May and never cooled off. In early June he became the only Clinton pitcher this season to earn a Midwest League Pitcher of the Week award, and on Aug. 3 he threw the franchise's first complete game since 2005 in a win over Burlington.

He ranks second in the league in strikeouts (134), third in walks plus hits per innings pitched (1.12) and sixth in innings pitched (141 2/3).

"Kenn has put himself on the map as far as a person that a lot of people in the organization are really taking a look at," Clinton manager Scott Steinmann said.

Other Clinton ERA champs include: Richard Lines (1957), Jerome Rozmus (1963), Fred Bruntrager (1972), Gerald Tyler (1973), Keith Silver (1985) and Mark Dewey (1988).

Only Lines, Dewey and Torres reached the major leagues.



SEAGER PROMOTED TO HIGH DESERT

The Seattle Mariners organization promoted LumberKings infielder Kyle Seager to high Class A High Desert on Saturday afternoon.

Seager, a third-round pick in the 2009 amateur draft, joined the Mavericks to assume the roster spot of a player who returned home for personal reasons.

"If that particular player comes back, then Kyle will not be a part of the (California League) playoffs," Mariners director of minor league operations Pedro Grifol said. "If the player does not come back, then Kyle will be a part of that team for the playoffs."

To fill Seager's roster spot, the LumberKings activated catcher Blake Ochoa, who spent the past two weeks on the disabled list.

A former University of North Carolina standout, Seager hit .275 with eight doubles and 22 RBIs in 41 games at Clinton.

"He did all the little things," Steinmann said. "He made routine plays. He turned double plays. He had more walks than strikeouts. He had professional at-bats. He did everything professional and did everything right."

Seager batted .393 in his final season at North Carolina while helping the Tar Heels reach the NCAA Division I College World Series for a fourth straight year.

This Week's Circulars