Lino A. Connell
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 170 lb.
Lino Connell spent three years in the California Angels system, seven and a half years in the independent leagues, six and a half years in Mexico and a year in Italy (through 2007). He has led his league in triples at least three times and has stolen over 270 bases.
Connell started his long baseball journey with the 1991 AZL Angels. He hit .324/~.407/.481 with 43 runs and 40 RBI in 56 games. He led the Arizona League with 10 triples and made the league All-Star team at second base. In 1992, the 20-year-old struggled with the Boise Hawks, batting .217/~.296/.237 with 49 strikeouts in 152 AB. The next year, the Venezuelan continued to slip downward. With the Cedar Rapids Kernels, he only eked out a .179/~.273/.183 batting line with one extra-base hit (a double) in 240 AB. In an earlier era, his career would have ended at this point. The independent leagues were forming, though, as a refuge for players who washed out of Organized Baseball, and Connell used them to rebuild his career.
In 1994, he hit .299 with 18 stolen bases and 17 doubles as the shortstop for the San Antonio Tejanos of the Texas-Louisiana League. He started 1995 with the Laredo Apaches and hit .307/.412/.380. When Laredo folded, he switched to the Corpus Christi Barracudas and batted .301/.355/.398. He made the TLL All-Star team as a utility man.
Connell moved to the Madison Black Wolf of the Northern League in 1996 and produced at a .298/.351/.410 clip. He stole 31 bases, third in the league. In 1997, Lino batted .308/.380/.471 for Madison with 6 triples. Changing leagues again, Connell went to the Western Warriors of the Western League and helped them into the final round by hitting .362, fifth in the league. He slugged .562, led the WL with 9 triples, was second to Todd Pridy in hits (134) and placed 4th with 26 doubles. He was named the WL All-Star shortstop for his efforts.
Moving to his 4th independent league in five years, Connell hit .277/.328/.448 for the Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds. His 12 triples easily led the Atlantic League. That winter, he hit .282 and slugged .443 for the Aguilas del Zulia to lead them to a Venezuelan Winter League title.
Heading to Mexico for 2000, Connell produced at a .313/.391/.453 clip with 36 stolen bases in 46 tries for the Veracruz Eagle. He scored 94 runs in 120 games but surprisingly failed to hit a triple in 120 games. He did smack 14 home runs, a career high. Back in Venezuela that winter, he hit .288 and slugged .424 for Zulia.
Connell hit .249/.338/.335 in a rocky second year with Veracruz. He certainly rebounded in 2002 with the Oaxaca Warriors, hitting .356/.431/.528 with 31 steals in 39 tries. He trailed Demond Smith by 10 for the Mexican League lead in steals and was 6th in average. He led the League, though, in runs (102, 14 ahead of Felix Jose), hits (163, 12 ahead of Cornelio Garcia) and doubles (45). It was the 4th-highest double total in the League's 67 years, following Chico Garcia (49, 1961), Roberto Vizcarra (49, 1991) and Greg Smith (46, 1989).
Connell split 2003 between Oaxaca (.280/.345/.373) and the Reynosa Broncos (.304/.393/.401). In 2004, he hit .318/.369/.436 in a return to Veracruz and stole 15 bases in 20 tries. In the winter of 2004-2005, he played for Oriente and batted .378 to lead the league, beating out Jose Castillo by 13 points and well ahead of major leaguers like Shane Victorino, Luis Sojo, Ernie Young, Randall Simon, Castillo and Marco Scutaro.
He spent time in 2005 with Veracruz (.305/.372/.443) and the Camden Riversharks (.349/.412/.473 in 35 games). He was with Camden for all of 2006, putting up a batting line of .269/.334/.387 and swiping 15 bases. In winter ball in 2006-2007, Connell hit .261/.380/.333 for the Caribes de Anzoátegui.
Connell went to Italy in 2007 and played for Fortitudo Bologna, hitting .318/.422/.394, finishing 8th in Serie A1 in OBP and tying Davide Dallospedale for third with 11 stolen bases. In the winter of 2007-2008, he batted .321/.399/.473 for the Caribes.
Connell played for the Venezuelans in the 2007 Baseball World Cup. He hit .261/.370/.304 while bouncing between first base, third base, right field and center field. He deprived Yadel Martí of a spot in the history books when he broke up a perfect game with one out to go by lining a single.