Mike Cervenak Slugging It Out in Taiwan

I recently learned that one of my favorite 4-A players (and former San Francisco Giants prospect) Mike Cervenak is playing in Taiwan this year for the 7-Eleven Lions of the Chinese Professional Baseball League (“CPBL”).

I wrote a post about Mike Cervenak three years ago in which I bemoaned the fact that he never got a significant shot at playing in the majors despite being a fine high minors hitter for roughly a decade.  Not much has changed in the last three seasons.

After a cup of coffee with the Phillies in 2008 (Mike went 2 for 13, which doesn’t prove much of anything), Cervenak hasn’t played in the major leagues again.  He had a poor season (.249 batting average, .638 OPS) with the Buffalo Bisons of the AAA International League in 2010 and a much better season (.298 BA, .828 OPS) for the New Orleans Zephyrs in the AAA Pacific Coast League.

Back with the Zephyrs last year at age 35, Mike had a terrific season, batting .340 with a .912 OPS in 101 games split between 1B, 3B, LF and DH.  His batting average was fifth best in the hit-happy PCL and his OPS was 10th best.  He now has more than 6,500 minor league plate appearances, 90% of which are at the AA and AAA levels, with a career batting average of .297 and OPS of .811.

However, Mike’s fine 2013 performance didn’t get him even a second cup of coffee from the Miami Marlins, and this year there was apparently little interest in having him return to the PCL for anyone, almost certainly because of his age.

I haven’t been able to find anything on how Mike is performing for the Lions in the young 2013 season.  However, Taiwan is likely the last stop on his professional baseball career, at least as a player.  He’s too old to return to a AAA job in the U.S., and the logical step up from Taiwan to South Korea’s KBO is unlikely to happen, since KBO generally only sign American pitchers and not position players.

There’s always the independent-A Atlantic League, but it’s pretty hard for a player Cervenak’s age to live on a salary of $3,000 a month for a six month season.  Given the extent of his professional experience, Mike may well get hired on a bench coach or hitting instructor somewhere when his playing career ends.

In other CPBL news, Manny Ramirez hit his first home run for the EDA Rhinos.  He golfed a low pitch to straightaway center field, and the ball traveled over the wall just to the right of the 400 foot sign.  It was also the 7,000 home run in CPBL history.

In part due to the Manny Ramirez signing (the CPBL is currently a four team league, so Manny plays in literally half of the league’s games), the CPBL set a new attendance record with more than 215,000 fans attending the league’s first 21 games of the 2013 season.  The league record for average attendance in a season was set way back in 1992 (the League began operations in 1989) with 6,878 fans attending each game.

However, last year, thanks to numerous gambling and game fixing scandals, CPBL attendance was at an all-time low with an average of only 2,433 fans per game.  That’s considerably lower than the Atlantic League, which has average over 4,000 fans per game over the last four seasons.  Even so, the CPBL is planning to add a fifth team in the next year.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Baseball Abroad, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants

One Comment on “Mike Cervenak Slugging It Out in Taiwan”

  1. Burly Says:

    Mike Cervenak lasted only 20 games in Taiwan. He batted a respectable .260/.356/.390, so I’m not sure what happened, although I suspect that Mike just didn’t like playing in Taiwan. He was able to catch on with Toledo Mudhens, the Detroit Tigers’ AAA club, upon his return to the states. He batted a respectable, but not particularly impressive, .291/.330/.390 in 81 games for the Mudhens. However, that’s not likely to get him a contract to play in 2014 at age 37. His best bet now if probably to get a coaching job.


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