American Eagle League (1989-2017)
|Previous names||Jacksonville Ravens (2012-2017)
Richmond Ravens (1991-2011) Richmond Raiders (1989-1990)
|Previous locations||Jacksonville, Florida (2012-2017)
Richmond, California (1991-2011) Richmond, Virginia (1989-1990)
|Colors||Blue, white, silver, burgundy
|Owner||Julio Arias Jr.
|General manager||Brendan Burke (Since May 2017)|
|Ballpark||Twin Cities Stadium|
|Former||Ravens Ballpark (2012-2017)
Richmond Park (1991-2011)
|Bull Cup titles||(2) 1995, 1996|
|League pennants||(5) 1995, 1996, 2005, 2007, 2011
|Division pennants||(12) AEL East - 2012, 2015
AEL West - 1995—1998, 2003, 2005, 2007—2008, 2011 LL West - 2018
They are one of the founding clubs in the Bull League. The Ravens have the most Division titles of any Bull League team, with a total of 11. They have nine from their former AEL West division, and two more after joining the AEL East division in 2012.
Prior to the beginning of the 2018 season, the Ravens had accumulated an all-time record of 1048-822 (.560), with two Bull Cup Championship Series wins, in 1995 and in 1996, the first team to win back-to-back Bull Cups.
- 1 History
- 2 Awards and other achievements
- 3 Championships
- 4 Minor League Affiliations
- 5 References
The Ravens first formed in 1989 as the Richmond Raiders in the former Southern League's East division. At that time, they were based in Richmond, Virginia. In 1990, the team relocated to Richmond, California, keeping the Raiders nickname. The following year, when the Southern League was disbanded and the new Lake League and American Eagle Leagues were formed, they were renamed to the Richmond Ravens and moved to the AEL West division.
1995–1996: Back-to-back championships
In 1995, the Bull League began its "modern era" with an lengthened 80-game schedule, at the same time expanding from 12 teams to 16 teams. The Richmond Ravens were the first team to win the Bull Cup Championship Series in the modern era. That year, the Ravens stormed to a 54-26 (.675) finish, the best record in the Bull League. They met the Denver Highlanders in the AELCS, winning the best-of-five series 3-2. They went on to sweep the Montreal Metros in the Bull Cup finals, 3-0.
The 1995 season was notable in other ways for the Ravens, as they were awarded the coveted Blue Rose Award for achieving the highest overall team batting average and lowest team ERA in the AEL. Their 1995 team average of .294 remains the highest of any Blue Rose Award winning team. It was also the year that future Hall of Fame second baseman Chuck Provost set a new single-season record for batting, going .444 through the season, and winning the MVP award.
The Ravens followed up their historic 1995 season with another Bull Cup championship win the next season, becoming the first Bull League team to win it in back-to-back seasons. This time, the Ravens dispatched the Calgary Chinooks in the AELCS, again going five games and winning the series 3-2. They then met the LL's Kingston Battlements in the Bull Cup series, once again winning with a 3-game sweep. Previous season MVP, Provost, had left the club in free agency and signed with Montreal. The club instead relied on the rest of their deep lineup to power to the top that year, including Form Explorer, Brian Bahm, and Barry Bats, who combined for 53 of the team's 120 home runs that year.
1997–1998: Attempting a dynasty
In 1997, the Ravens once again found themselves at the top of their division, and with the best record in the AEL for a third consecutive season. But this time, they were stopped in the AELCS by Calgary in a 3-game sweep. Calgary's pitching was backed by future Hall of Famer Kurt Coler, who had a break-out season that year, winning both the pitcher's Triple Crown, and the AEL Sandy Koufax Award.
Undeterred, and still fielding some of the best players in the AEL, the Ravens returned to the AELCS in 1998, but by now player departures had left the team with less pitching and defense than their 1995–1996 championship seasons. Important contributors on the mound like Flamer Flaherty, Mohamed Lacroix, Scott Stutter, and Ken Tucker were gone, and previously good pitchers like Steve Elliott struggled through their declines. Sanford Klondike, another future Hall of Famer, and outfielders Ford Explorer and Barry Bats, were left to carry all the weight. Once again, the Ravens were defeated during the AELCS, this time by the Nevada Speeders.
1999–2002: A drought
In 2001, the club hailed the return of Chuck Provost, and saw an attendance spike as a result of the popular former Ravens player coming back. In fine form again after Montreal voided his final contract year there due to injuries, Provost batted .333 and contributed 17 home runs. The team set a new attendance record of 1,661,367 fans. But by the following season, the team had cratered into a last-place finish at 38-42.
2003–2008: Another great run
In 2003, a 25-year-old right fielder Jimmy Hankel had a breakout season, going .291 at the plate, raking 20 home runs, and driving in 62 runs. Hankel had been a first-round pick in the 1999 draft, and the investment was finally paying off, as he joined Provost and some of the other younger players in boosting the Ravens offense. The Ravens were once again back near the top of AEL run production, averaging 5.0 runs/game, with only the Speeders outpacing them. It would be the Speeders whom they faced in the AELCS on making their return to the playoffs that year. Not surprisingly, the Speeders, who were having one of their best seasons ever, with nearly twice the home run production of any other AEL team, sent the Ravens off in four games, taking the series 3-1.
But, save for a stumble in 2004 that ended in a 40-40 3rd place finish, the Ravens were once again perennial contenders. They made the playoffs four times between 2003 and 2008, though they were stopped each time either by the Chicago Pit Bulls, or the Speeders. The 2008, in particular, was big for the Ravens as they saw the debut of third baseman Alan Isimo, as the international free agent from South Africa went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award, going .281 at the plate, and collecting 27 home runs.
2009–2011: Another collapse
Despite great output from Isimo, and veterans like Hankel, run production overall collapsed for the next two seasons. The Ravens debuted Ricky Rodriguez in 2009, but he was just 20, and would still take years to develop to the eventual top-of-the-rotation star he later became. Their top arm was Sergio Maestas, but he missed 10 weeks with herniated disc. Maestas showed signs of potentially exploding that year, going 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA over the 5 brief starts he managed while healthy. But overall, pitching was disastrous for the next two seasons. The Ravens finished in 4th place in both 2009 and 2010.
By 2011, however, the Ravens had finally made a return to the playoffs, as Isimo continued to progress, and Ricky Rodriguez had his breakout season, going 11-5, with a 2.50 ERA, and a WHIP of just 0.88. Rick-Rod threw four shutouts that year (including a 1-hitter against California, winning his first Sandy Koufax Award. The wild card Nevada Speeders had the Ravens number in the Elimination Round, however, and the Ravens lost 3-1. But a brief period of darkness was erased in just one season.
2012–2017: The Jacksonville years
In 2012, the Bull League underwent an expansion and reorganization, and the Ravens moved to Jacksonville, Florida. They moved into a new stadium, Ravens Ballpark. With the move, they rejoined the East division, which they had occupied from 1991–1993. The team was now called the Jacksonville Ravens.
Building on their success of 2011, the Ravens returned to the playoffs again in 2012, setting a new team record for wins at 62. Isimo had another career year, hitting a career-record 33 home runs and winning his first MVP award just one season after winning the AELCS MVP. The Ravens solidified their pitching, and Ricky Rodriguez impressive starts were now being backed up by Oscar Navarro, who had taken over the closer role and earned the Woodchuck Trophy that year, going 5-1 with 5 saves, and 50 strikeouts in 32.0 innings pitched. Unfortunately, the Ravens were sent out of the playoffs in the Elimination Round by wild card Calgary Inferno.
But the Ravens had re-established themselves as a dominant playoff contender, as Ricky Rodriguez continued to accumulate awards, anchoring a rotation that eventually included such names as Micah Jones, Jordan Delgado, Barrett Block, and Ronald Baldwin. Rick-Rod won the Sandy Koufax Award again in 2013, 2015, and 2016, and placed second in that award's voting in 2014 and 2017.
During this stretch, the Ravens made the AELCS three straight times (2015–2017), each time being defeated by the Calgary Inferno, who had quickly become their postseason nemesis, developing a rivalry that continues to this day.
2018: Landing in Minneapolis
The Ravens have recently found themselves rivaled with the Calgary Inferno, who are in the same division, and who defeated them in the AELCS to advance to the Bull Cup Championship Series every time they have met in an AELCS since 1997. The team, who were at that time were called the Richmond Ravens, have only defeated Calgary once in an AELCS, in 1996. The only other times they have won the AELCS were in years they did not face Calgary in the playoffs:
- 1997, defeated by Calgary in AELCS, 3-0
- 2005, won AELCS against Chicago Pit Bulls, 3-1
- 2007, won AELCS against Nevada Speeders, 3-2, after defeating Chicago in Elimination Round, 3-1
- 2011, won AELCS against Seattle Salts, 3-0, after defeating Nevada in Elimination Round, 3-2
- 2015, defeated by Calgary in AELCS, 3-2, after having won Elimination Round against Denver Highlanders, 3-1
- 2016, defeated by Calgary in AELCS, 3-2, after having won Elimination Round against San Diego Seagulls, 3-2
Awards and other achievements
For career hitting percentage records, 1,460 plate appearances are required. For career pitching percentage records, 471 innings pitched are required. Bold indicates player is in the Hall of Fame.
|Statistic||Single season record||Career record|
|Batting average||Chuck Provost||.444||1995||Nick Dune||.311|
|On base percentage||Chuck Provost||.499||1995||Grant Gino||.381|
|Slugging percentage||Chuck Provost||.722||1995||Alan Isimo||.577|
|At bats||Jacques Caron||380||2017||Nick Dune||2,477|
|Runs||Chuck Provost||81||1995||Jimmy Hankel||444|
|Hits||Chuck Provost||147||1995||Nick Dune||771|
|Doubles||Chuck Provost||28||1995||Nick Dune||169|
|Triples||Barry Bats||8||1996||Nick Dune||24|
|Home runs||Alan Isimo||33||2012||Alan Isimo||141|
|Runs batted in||Brian Bahm||86||1995||Jimmy Hankel||487|
|Stolen bases||Ford Explorer||27||1996||Ford Explorer||96|
|Earned runs average||Ricky Rodriguez||1.84||2015||Ricky Rodriguez||2.37|
|Wins||Ricky Rodriguez||14||2017||Ricky Rodriguez||76|
|Losses|| Dick Dixon
|Saves||Nate Kremer||29||2015||Brian Sharkey||79|
|Games pitched||Sergio Maestas||43||2008||Nathan Safford||227|
|Games started||Ricky Rodriguez||23||2017||Vinicius Traado||151|
|Complete games||Angelo Rodriguez||7||2017||Ricky Rodriguez||39|
|Shutouts||(4 tied)||3||(4 tied)||Ricky Rodriguez||17|
|Innings pitched||Ricky Rodriguez||187.1||2017||Ricky Rodriguez||1,144.0|
|Strikeouts||Ricky Rodriguez||164||2017||Ricky Rodriguez||968|
Hall of Fame Players
The team have had three players inducted into the Hall of Fame as members of the team, all of them as Jacksonville Ravens. The first to be inducted was Hugh Mulholland, who was voted in on his fourth time on the ballot in 2009 with 80.9% of the votes. He played only two seasons with the Ravens (1998 and 1999), and arguably had very few achievements in the Bull League, lasting only six seasons in total. His Ravens years were overall positive, with a combined 14-8 record, 3.30 ERA, 193.2 IP, striking out 140 batters and allowing just 9 home runs. He was a five-time all-star who placed third two times in Sandy Koufax Award voting.
|Minneapolis Ravens Hall of Famers|
|Barry Bats||Right fielder||2013|
The Ravens were the first Bull League team to win back-to-back Bull Cups, taking them in the first two seasons of the 80-games-plus "Modern Era", 1995 and 1996. They did so while they were still called the Richmond Ravens, based in Richmond, California.
Minor League Affiliations
|AAA||Thunder Bay Rail Heads||Cow League||Thunder Bay, Ontario|
|AA||Spokane North Stars||Heifer League||Spokane, Washington|
|A||Tucson Rattlers||Calf League||Tucson, Arizona|
|Short Season A||North Tonawanda Blaze||Milk League||North Tonawanda, New York|
|Rookie||Jacksonville Beach Ravens||Florida Rookie League||Jacksonville Beach, Florida|
- Minneapolis Ravens: Team History Index. BNN. http://bullleague.org/public_html/bull-league/reports/html/history/team_13_index.html. Accessed: 6 July 2018.
- American Eagle League 2000 Statistics & Leaders. BNN. http://bullleague.org/public_html/bull-league/reports/html/history/sl_stats_100_1_2000.html. Accessed: 6 July 2018.