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Mike Cervenak

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Michael Christopher Cervenak

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Mike Cervenak hit .342/?/.463 for the University of Michigan in 1997 and followed with a .385/?/.659 year as a junior. The Oakland Athletics took him with their final pick of the 1998 amateur draft, in the 43rd round, but he did not sign. In 1999, he batted .340/.371/.559 as a senior and made the Big Ten Conference All-Conference team as a third baseman.

Undrafted, Mike signed with the Chillicothe Paints and hit .306/.339/.419 as their shortstop. The next year, Cervenak hit .357/.415/.620 for the Paints and was picked up by the New York Yankees and he batted .329/.371/.477 with their Greensboro Bats club. Despite joining late in the year, he tied for the team lead with five triples.

In 2001, he began a four-year run with the Norwich Navigators, hitting .274/.347/.430 with 37 doubles and followed with a .276/.330/.478 year with 34 doubles, 21 homers and 91 RBI. In 2003, Mike put up a .270/.329/.442 line with 20 HR and 91 RBI.

The San Francisco Giants picked up Mike and put him back on Norwich, now their farm team. He hit .337/.414/.583 with 36 doubles, 21 homers and 88 RBI and made it to AAA, where he batted .250/.267/.614 with five long balls in 10 games for the Fresno Grizzlies. He was third in the Eastern League in average and led in OBP.

The 29-year-old infielder had a big year in 2005 with Fresno, hitting .312/.369/.498 with 19 homers and 103 RBI, leading the San Francisco system, but did not get a call-up. He moved to first base during the year. In the 2005 Baseball World Cup, he batted .368/.455/.816 with 12 runs, 5 doubles, 4 home runs and 9 RBI as the USA's top hitter.

Cervenak signed with the Kia Tigers for 2006 but was a bust, only managing a .224/.258/.343 line and being let go. He returned to Fresno and hit .283/.311/.442 in 68 games there to finish the year.

Cervenak was signed to a minor league deal and invited to the Baltimore Orioles training camp as a non-roster invitee for 2007. He was assigned to the Norfolk Tides and hit .283/.316/.424 with 15 HR and 78 RBI. His 157 hits led the 2007 International League.

Moving to the Philadelphia Phillies chain in 2008, Cervenak batted .310/.331/.439 in 90 games for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Right before the All-Star break, he was added to the Phillies' roster as an extra bat. He debuted in the bottom of the 11th inning of a 5-5 game against the Arizona Diamondbacks as a pinch-hitter for J.C. Romero. Facing Connor Robertson, Cervenak flied out to left field. Overall, he played 13 games for the Phillies, going 2 for 13 with an RBI with most of his appearances coming as a pinch-hitter. The Phillies won the World Series, that year, but Mike was not on the postseason roster. His 2008 stint was his lone appearance in the majors.

In 2009, he hit .305/.347/.450 with 36 doubles for Lehigh Valley. He tied Brent Dlugach and Michael Restovich for second in the 2009 IL in doubles (10 behind Jon Weber) and tied Mike Hessman for 5th in RBI (77). With the 2009-2010 Tomateros de Culiacan, he produced at a .330/.369/.496 clip. He tied Brad Snyder for 3rd in the Mexican Pacific League in RBI (48) and was third in average (after Weber and Snyder). In 2010, he struggled with the New York Mets' Buffalo Bisons affiliate (.249/.278/.360).

Now with the Florida Marlins chain, he hit .298/.362/.466 for the New Orleans Zephyrs, then spent part of the winter in Mexico and part in the Dominican League. In 2012, he batted .340/.408/.504 for the Zephyrs. He was 5th in the 2012 PCL in average, between Brock Bond and Jake Elmore. He went 4 for 22 with a double for the Tigres de Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Cervenak played for the Czech national team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers. He was the team's top hitter, going 5 for 7 with a double, walk, run and RBI. He led all four qualifiers in average (.132 over Scott Campbell and Leonardo Reginatto) and OBP (.058 over Ssu-Chi Chou), tied Adam Loewen for 6th in slugging and was 4th in OPS (between [{Aaron Altherr]] and Cheslor Cuthbert).

Signing with the Detroit Tigers, his 8th MLB organization, he hit .291/.330/.390 for the 2013 Toledo Mud Hens to end his pro career with 2,026 hits, 408 doubles, 212 homers and 1,202 RBI between the indies, the minors, the majors and winter ball.

At age 39, he was back with the Czech squad for the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers. He again was a potent contributor, at .462/.462/.615 with 3 runs and four RBI in three games. He led the team in average, was second to Jakub Malik in OPS and was 3rd in runs and RBI. He was second in the Mexico pool in average, behind Bruce Maxwell, led in hits and tied for 4th in RBI.

Mike worked as a physical therapist aide for a couple of years in the off-seasons early in his career. Before he became a pro baseball player, he had planned to become a physical therapist.

Main Sources: 1998-2006 Baseball Almanacs

Also see Baltimore Sun interview with Mike

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