Friday, December 21, 2007

Former Miners reliever signs with White Sox organization

By Justin Walker, Marion Daily Republican

MARION -- Brian Logan says he doesn't have a favorite professional baseball team. There is no reason to doubt the validity of his statement even though he says it with a chuckle as if declaring neutrality in a war between family members.

It's a good move on his part. Especially now that Logan, who shined as a left-handed middle reliever with the Southern Illinois Miners last summer, is a member of the Chicago White Sox organization. Logan was signed by the American League squad this week and can now say he has been the property of four different major league squads in his young professional career.

"I'm pumped. I'm excited to know I'm getting another chance," Logan said. "I've been in the minors chasing my dream and even though I was let go once, it's nice to feel like someone believes in you. Now I just have to go out and prove it."

Logan, 21, was originally taken by the Cleveland Indians in the 11th round of the Major League Draft after his senior year at Varina High School in Richmond, Va., but turned down a contract offer to attend Louisburg College, where he redshirted due to an injury but was still drafted as a sign-and-follow prospect by the Baltimore Orioles in the 21st round prior to his sophomore year.

Bad luck in the form of mononucleosis caused Logan to see action in just four games that season, but his reputation allowed him to sign as a free agent with the Milwaukee Brewers. He played in rookie ball and was invited to Spring Training but was released in the final week before the season.

That path led to Marion and a key part of the Southern Illinois Miners' inaugural season in the independent Frontier League. Logan was dominant as a southpaw artist used primarily in specialty situations by Miners manager Mike Pinto.

"We would match him up against lefties and you're talking about a lefty with a 91-92 mph fastball with good life on it," Pinto said. "His ball runs in with good late movement and that's not an easy thing to pick up."

Logan was technically a member of the River City Rascals when he was signed by the White Sox. The Miners traded Logan to Gateway in the second half of the season for starter Chris Little, only to regain Logan's services after Gateway traded him to River City with a stipulation that Logan be sent back to the Rascals for the 2008 season.

Logan excelled under the instruction of Miners pitching coach Brad Hall and was named to the Frontier League All-Star Game as a result of some clutch performances last summer. Logan appeared in 28 games while with the Miners, compiling a 3.26 earned run average and striking out 35 batters in 30 1-3 innings. Hitters batted just .263 against him.

"(Hall) worked with me and got me really feeling things," Logan said. "After I was traded it kind of messed up my mindset, but when I came back we got back into it and I understood what he was trying to teach me -- and I was excited about learning what he had to teach me."

Logan began his college career as a starter but was moved to a reliever's role after his bout with mono, a move that paid off for all parties involved.

"I like coming in and being able to throw all your pitches and go right after a guy," Logan said. "I prefer that to being a starter. I keep the mindset that I could come in any inning so I have to be ready. If the starter gets in trouble, I'm ready to go."

Whether it was to preserve a lead or get the Miners out of a sticky situation, Logan was called upon more than any reliever last season to shut down the opposition over the middle innings.

"He came into some tough situations and did a great job," Pinto said. "His being named an all-star was tribute to the job he did. I'm glad we were able to get him back. It worked out well for us."

Logan doesn't know where he'll be assigned within the White Sox organization as of yet.

"I haven't talked to them," he said. "Pinto just called and gave me the heads up and wished me good luck. I'll just continue to work out and hopefully I'll hear something by Christmas."

Logan's goal is to join the White Sox in training camp and this time earn an assignment to a Class A team and take his chances.

"This year I want to start out where I left off, if not go higher," Logan said. "Hopefully I'll go to Spring Training and show them I can compete and then work my way up."

If that doesn't work out, Logan didn't rule out making his way back to Marion sometime in the future.

"That wouldn't be too bad," he said. "I loved my time there."

Although the Miners have yet to play a game in their second season, they've already had two players be picked up by major league organizations. First baseman Tim Dorn was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first half of the Miners' inaugural season.

"Hopefully we'll improve that number next year," Pinto said. "The reason guys come here is for a chance to follow their dreams. I couldn't be happier for Brian. He's worked really hard and we know he has the stuff to succeed there. When he trusts his stuff, he is exceptional."

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