Wednesday, September 26, 2018

CARDS' BREBBIA AND SAN DIEGO'S STOCK MAKE INDIES LOOK GOOD

The tedious nature of the National League races in the last five days of the regular season have several former Independent Baseball players on the edge of their seat whether they will be part of the postseason.

Be that as it may, two former Indy right-handers, one involved in the postseason scramble, seem to have really cemented their future for 2019 by virtue of this season's performances.

John Brebbia (Sioux Falls and Laredo in the American Association for two full seasons in 2014-15) has done so well in St. Louis's bullpen that some want him to be the Redbirds' closer in the future.  Robert Stock cannot fret over the postseason since his San Diego Padres are not involved, but this former Can-Am League hurler (New Jersey Jackals, 2016) surely is being counted on for next season.

Is he (Brebbia) even good was a question the blog Viva El Birdos asked itself?  "You better believe it. It’s been easy to miss this year, but between injuries and stints in (Triple-A) Memphis Brebbia has put up a tremendous season in the majors...Brebbia has struck out 25.9% of the batters he’s faced in his major league career (27.6% this year), comfortably above the major league average of around 22%. His 6.4% career walk rate complements the strikeouts quite well, and does a lot to account for his career 2.83 ERA.  It’s not smoke and mirrors, either. Brebbia’s arsenal consists of an excellent fastball and an excellent slider, both of which he uses roughly half the time.  He had posted a 1.72 ERA for his last 15 St. Louis outings entering play Wednesday.

Since being called up for his second major league stint July 20, Stock, The San Diego Tribune reported recently, "has thrown 28 innings over 18 appearances. He’s gone more than one inning in 10 of those appearances, including three innings twice and at least two innings five other times while consistently throwing in the high 90s. No other reliever in the majors averaging more than 96 mph on his fastball this season has thrown more than 23 innings since July 20.  Simply, no one does what Stock has done and continues to do. He loves it. 'I think it’s fun to try to be out there every single day.' He has a 2.61 ERA in his 31 total innings this season." Not bad coming from someone who was both a catcher and pitcher in college (at USC).

WATCH THEM IN THE POSTSEASON

Outfielder-first baseman Jose Martinez at St. Louis (Rockford, Frontier League) and pitchers Junior Guerra of Milwaukee (Wichita, American Association), Rich Hill of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Long Island, Atlantic League) and Brandon Kintzler of the Chicago Cubs (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, when it was in the Northern League), appear to be locks for rosters if their teams make it to the postseason.

Four others have enjoyed the final weeks of the regular season with contenders with some chance of being on active rosters in the playoffs.  They are catcher Rene Rivera with Atlanta (Camden, Atlantic) and hurlers Jon Edwards with Cleveland (Alpine, Pecos League, and San Angelo, North American League), D. J. Johnson with Colorado (Traverse City, Frontier) and Robby Scott with Boston (Yuma, North American).


Get the independent minor league baseball trivia question of the day by clicking this link: Independent Minor League Baseball Trivia Questions

Thursday, September 20, 2018

NICE REVIEW OF 'THE PASSION OF BASEBALL' LEADS TO REDUCED PRICE


Since 'The Passion of Baseball', the 350-page book of my life in this wonderful game, just received a very nice review via the Readers' Favorite Award Contest (see below) and the two-year anniversary of publication comes up in a few days, we are offering an autographed copy at a reduced price of $16 until Oct. 17. Orders are filled promptly at www.WirzandAssociates.com.
Review #1: By Christian Sia of 'The Passion of Baseball' by Bob Wirz

Review Rating:
5 Stars - Congratulations on your 5-star review

Reviewed By Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews and Award Contest
The Passion of Baseball: A Journey to the Commissioner's Office of Major League Baseball by Bob Wirz is the story of the Kansas City Royals' first publicist, a man who spent more than a decade as spokesperson for commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth. Born in a small town in Nebraska, Bob Wirz dreamed of getting involved in major league baseball, and what follows is a breathtaking journey that will have readers mesmerized and utterly delighted. This is a tale of a dream come true, a journey from humble beginnings to great success. We encounter a young man passionate about baseball who eventually gets into the World Series, All-Star Game, and, surprisingly, the Hall of Fame. His success reaches its peak when he starts his own sports public relations and marketing firm, with major clients like the Rolaids Relief Man, Major League Baseball, and IBM. Follow Bob Wirz from his early days in Halsey, Nebraska, to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Denver, Kansas City and to the glitz of New York City.

Bob Wirz's story is one that will warm the hearts of baseball aficionados and sports fans in general. The author's gift for prose is exceptional and it comes out in his ability to capture key moments in the story, infusing them with the kind of emotion that readers can easily relate to. The writing is focused and it features vivid images that have stories of their own. I enjoyed the way Bob Wirz's passion for baseball comes out through the narrative and it is inspiring to encounter someone who lived their dream. Readers will find both inspiration and entertainment here. The Passion of Baseball: A Journey to the Commissioner's Office of Major League Baseball is one of those stories that encourage readers to pursue their dreams. It showcases the liberating power of daring to go after our heart's desires. Written in a compelling voice and infused with humor, The Passion of Baseball is filled with life lessons on success.



Get the independent minor league baseball trivia question of the day by clicking this link: Independent Minor League Baseball Trivia Questions

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

THE STORY OF T-BONES' TITLE GETS EVEN BETTER

It is easy to congratulate manager Joe Calfapietra for guiding the Kansas City T-Bones to the American Association championship.  The 46-year-old Calfapietra has long been respected throughout much of the Independent Baseball world where he has been leading one team or another for the last 19 seasons.

Digging deeper, the fact the T-Bones, who play out of Kansas City, KS and across the river from the major league Kansas City Royals, won their very first league title becomes a much greater feat.  Consider these facts:

--The franchise, which was created 16 years ago (2003), had not even made it to the playoffs in the ever-competitive American Association since 2010 and Calfapietra was only in his second year at the helm.

--Kansas City only placed one player on the 11-man postseason league all-star team (outfielder Todd Cunningham).

--The equivalent of more than one-third of the 22-man roster had their contract purchased by a major league organization.  The league-leading eight departures included four pitchers, two infielders, an outfielder and a combination infielder-outfielder.  The losses in the last month and a half while the T-Bones were striving to even make the postseason included their starting shortstop (Taylor Featherston) and leadoff hitter (Dylan Tice).

Selling players to major league organizations always brings a source of pride to the entire league, but they also create gaping holes in the roster, which often has no more players on the bench than a second catcher and one other position player.  Everyone says they want to see their players get affiliated opportunities, but some managers and player personnel bosses (often the same person) are not so eager to promote such opportunities because it hurts the team at that time. 

Calfapietra never seems to flinch. 

That attribute alone could be a factor in him winning Manager of the Year honors in the Northern League, Northeast League, the Can-Am League and this season from his peers and the media in the American Association.

For good measure, the Royersford, PA native and two-time All-America selection while playing first base at Eastern College (St. David's, PA) helped Kansas City post a team record 62-37 (.626) regular-season mark and build his all-time regular-season managerial record to 966-819 (.541).

SUGAR LAND ON BRINK

If the Sugar Land (TX) Skeeters win the title in the playoffs that are only beginning in the Atlantic League they also will have overcome major sales of their players to major league organizations.  The Skeeters' count, for the longer 126-game season, stands at 11. 


Get the independent minor league baseball trivia question of the day by clicking this link: Independent Minor League Baseball Trivia Questions

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

A NEW INDEPENDENT FACE GETS INTO N.L. WEST RACE

Very little can top the joy of a first-time call-up to the major leagues for someone who has labored in an Independent League.  Seven players have gotten that thrill this season.

The latest is D. J. Johnson, a right-handed relief pitcher who turned a not-so-young (well, for baseball players anyway) 29 last week.  This native of Beaverton, OR got the call to join the Colorado bullpen staff as the Rockies fight for a spot in the National League playoffs.

This 6-foot-4 hurler may not have gotten this chance without spending more than half of the 2014 season with the Traverse City (MI) Beach Bums of the Frontier League (0-3, 14 saves, 1.30 ERA in 24 appearances) after he had been idled for a full season by the injury bug.

Minnesota picked up his contract, then it was on to the Los Angeles Angels and Colorado farm systems the last three seasons, 2018 in the Pacific Coast League when Johnson saved 18 games and went 3-4, 3.90 in 50 games out of Albuquerque's bullpen.  These stats probably won the promotion for him:  84 strikeouts and only 15 walks in 55 innings.  Counting two seasons in three years before his idle campaign, he has been in five major league organizations.

24 NOW ACTIVE IN MAJORS

With all-PCL shortstop Ildemaro Vargas (Bridgeport, Atlantic League) also recalled by Arizona for the postseason scramble and righty Jon Edwards getting the same opportunity in the Cleveland bullpen plus the return of a few other players who have shuttled between the majors and the minor leagues this season, 24 former Independent players are wearing big-league uniforms this month.  Edwards is far from a major league newby, but this right-hander has logged Indy time with Alpine of the Pecos League and San Angelo of the former North American League.

THE OTHER FIRST-TIMERS

Major league debuts also have been earned this season by pitchers Jeremy Bleich with Oakland (Somerset, Atlantic League), Ryan Bollinger with the New York Yankees (Trois-Rivieres, Can-Am League; St. Paul and Winnipeg, American Association; and Windy City, Frontier), Brandon Mann of Texas (Southern Maryland and Lancaster, Atlantic, and Fargo, American Association), Trevor Richards of Miami (Gateway, Frontier), Robert Stock of San Diego (New Jersey, Can-Am), and Marcus Walden of Boston (Lancaster).  Bollinger was active but did not get into any games while Richards and Stock remain on active rosters. 


Get the independent minor league baseball trivia question of the day by clicking this link: Independent Minor League Baseball Trivia Questions

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

ONLY 35 DAYS FROM ATLANTIC LEAGUE TO MAJORS

How is this for a rapid climb from and Independent League to the majors?

Brandon Cumpton had not been in the major leagues since 2014 (Pittsburgh), but after spending two months with Southern Maryland of the Atlantic League (4-3, 4.11 in 11 starts) his contract was purchased by Toronto (his last day with the Blue Crabs is listed as June 28).  Thirty five days later (July 31) he was summoned from the Blue Jays' bullpen in an eventual 6-2 loss at Oakland.

The right-hander came on for the fifth and (most of) the sixth inning, and he allowed a run and three hits in 1.2 frames, striking out two and walking the same number.  Half of Cumpton's 46 pitches were strikes.

He had gone 2-1 with an unimpressive 5.63 ERA in six appearances with Triple-A Buffalo after his time in the Atlantic League when Toronto added him to its major league roster.

Cumpton had been in the Pirate organization from 2010 to 2014, including 23 appearances (15 starts) for the parent club in the last two of those seasons with a 5-5 record and a 4.05 ERA.  He did not pitch the next two seasons before returning to Pittsburgh's minor league system last year.

In earlier years, a few veterans such as Jose Lima went directly from the Atlantic League to the majors, but such rapid advancements are rare these days, especially for someone without a distinguished major league resume.

Good for Cumpton and for the Independent game.


Get the independent minor league baseball trivia question of the day by clicking this link: Independent Minor League Baseball Trivia Questions