Mike Cervenak

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Michael Christopher Cervenak

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Biographical Information[edit]

Mike Cervenak spent nearly two decades in professional baseball. His big league career consisted of 10 games with the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies.

Mike hit .342/?/.463 for the Michigan Wolverines 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 All-Conference team at third base. Undrafted, Mike signed with the Chillicothe Paints of the independent Frontier League and hit .306/.339/.419 as their shortstop. The next year, he hit .357/.415/.620 and was picked up by the New York Yankees, batting .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 home runs and 91 RBI.

The San Francisco Giants picked up Mike in the minor league phase of the 2002 Rule V Draft and put him back in 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 had a big year in 2005 with Fresno, playing more first base while hitting .312/.369/.498 with 19 homers and 103 RBI, leading San Francisco's system, but did not get a call up. In the 2005 Baseball World Cup, he batted .368/.455/.816 with 12 runs scored, 5 doubles, 4 home runs and 9 RBI as the US's top hitter. He signed with the Kia Tigers of the KBO for 2006 but was a bust, only managing a .224/.258/.343 line, and was let go. He returned to Fresno and hit .283/.311/.442 in 68 games to finish the year. Mike signed a minor league deal with a big league invite from the Baltimore Orioles for 2007. He was assigned to the Norfolk Tides and hit .283/.316/.424 with 15 home runs and 78 RBI. His 157 hits led the International League.

Moving to the Philadelphia Phillies 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 big club 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, he flied out to left field. Overall, he played 10 games for the Phils, going 2 for 13 with an RBI while mostly pinch hitting. The Phillies won the World Series, but Mike was not on the postseason roster.

He may have been done with the big leagues, but Mike was not done with pro ball. In 2009, he hit .305/.347/.450 with 36 doubles for Lehigh Valley, tying Brent Dlugach and Michael Restovich for second in the 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 in 2011, 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, finishing 5th in the Pacific Coast League 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. Signing with the Detroit Tigers, his 8th MLB organization, he hit .291/.330/.390 for the 2013 Toledo Mud Hens to end his career with 2,026 hits, 408 doubles, 212 homers and 1,202 RBI between the indies, the minors, the majors and winter ball.

Cervenak played for the Czech national team in the 2013 WBC Qualifiers. He was the team's top hitter, going 5-for-7 with a double, walk, run and RBI. He led all 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). At 39, he was back with the Czechs for the 2017 WBC Qualifiers. He again had a potent bat, at .462/.462/.615 with 3 runs scored and 4 RBI in three games. He led the team in average, was second to Jakub Malik in OPS and was 3rd in runs scored 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 offseasons early in his career. Before he became a baseball player, he had planned to become a physical therapist.

Main Sources: 1998-2006 Baseball Almanacs

Also see Baltimore Sun interview with Mike

Related Sources[edit]