Nashville Xpress

From BR Bullpen


When the Charlotte Knights moved up from the Southern League to the International League, it left a vacancy in the AA circuit. New Orleans, LA appealed to join the circuit but the National Association refused, placing the former Denver Zephyrs in the city when that team also was forced to move due to expansion. The Southern League finally decided to place a team in Nashville, TN even though the city already housed the Nashville Sounds of the American Association. It was the first time in 21 years that two minor league teams in the USA shared a city (the Mexican League had two shared cities at that point). Both teams played in Herschel Greer Stadium. Ironically, the last time two teams shared a city, the Twins were involved also, as they had the Charlotte Hornets in the Southern League and the Charlotte Twins in the Western Carolinas League in 1972.

The new Nashville Xpress went 40-31 to take the first half western division title, but the Minnesota Twins farm team fell to 32-39 in the second half and were swept in the best-of-5 playoffs by the Birmingham Barons. The team was managed by Phil Roof. Rich Becker was the team's only All-Star - the outfielder hit .287/~.397/.450 and stole 29 bases in 36 tries; he drew 94 walks and scored 93 runs. The team also got some power from Marty Cordova (.250/~.334/.441), who hit 19 homers but struck out a league-high 153 times. Oscar Munoz did not make the All-Star team but somehow still won the Most Valuable Pitcher award with an 11-4, 3.08 season, striking out 139 in 132 innings. Brad Radke (2-6, 4.62), Todd Ritchie (3-2, 3.66) and Eddie Guardado (4-0, 1.24) each made 10-13 starts.

In 1994 the team went 74-66 under Roof, but did not claim a title in either half. They again drew the fewest fans (135,048) in the league while sharing a stadium with a better team in a stronger league. The club led the league with a 3.40 ERA and had two of the top six prospects according to league managers - LaTroy Hawkins (9-2, 2.33, #2 prospect, 50 H in 73 IP) and Marc Barcelo (11-6, 2.65, second in the league with 153 K and 4th in ERA, #6 prospect). The staff also featured Rich Garces (4-5, 3 Sv, 3.72), Munoz (3-0, 0.41 in 3 starts, 2 of them complete games), Ritchie (0-2, 4.24 in 4 games), Radke (12-9, 2.66, tied for third in wins and 5th in ERA) and Erik Schullstrom (1-2, 2.63, 8 Sv, 43 K in 41 IP). The offense was weaker - 1B-3B Adell Davenport and OF Tim Moore combined for 38 homers (Davenport was third in the league with 20) but also struck out 241 times and both hit under .250 with unimpressive walk totals. Catcher Damian Miller hit .268/.336/.372 and went on to the best career of their position players, but the offensive star was 2B Mitch Simons, who hit .317/.383/.407 and tied for second in batting average. Simons also stole 30 bases in 39 attempts.

The interim housing situation met a poor resolution when the club moved the next year. After attempts to place the team in Lexington, KY and Bayamon, Puerto Rico they wound up in Wilmington, NC as the Port City Roosters.

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs Hitting Coach Pitching Coach
1993 72-70 5th Phil Roof Lost in 1st round Mark Funderburk Rick Anderson
1994 74-66 4th (t) Phil Roof Mark Funderburk Rick Anderson