Monday, May 14, 2007


It certainly helps to have a previous track record to get the majors to call.

Jason Simontacchi and Chris Coste undoubtedly benefitted from what they had done during previous time in the major leagues when they were called up by Washington and Philadelphia, respectively, in recent days.

I can make this comment since neither of these former Independent Baseball players was blazing a hot trail in the International League when called up. Simontacchi gives the Atlantic League a nice talking point since he pitched for the league's Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish last August and September. As an up-and-comer in 1998, he had gone 10-2 for Springfield, IL of the Frontier League. It is well documented that Coste started his professional career in the defunct Independent circuit known as the Prairie League, then developed his skills during four seasons for his hometown Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks in the Northern League before getting his first affiliated opportunity.

Simontacchi got his first major league victory since September 20, 2003 Sunday when he worked the first 5.1 innings of Washington's 6-4 home win against Florida. In fact, he was cruising with a 5-0 lead into the sixth. But he had a nice reputation because of a 20-10 record posted during the 2002 and 2003 seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals, then disappeared from the major league scene part way into 2004.

He is 1-1, 5.56 in his first two Washington starts, better than the 0-1, 5.91 he had compiled in two Triple-A starts for Columbus, OH. International League hitters had hit .386 against him as he worked off effects of a sore groin that kept him from being in the Nationals' rotation when the season opened.

Coste is back in Philadelphia, where he deserved to be after hitting .328 in 65 games as a 33-year-old major league rookie last summer, but it took an injury to '06 National League MVP Ryan Howard for the catcher-first baseman to get recalled from Ottawa.

Last year's performance and his hustle had to be the determining factors since Coste was hitting only .233 in 26 games for the Lynx and was without a home run (10 RBI). He had picked it up by going 10-for-28 (.357) in his last seven games. Coste probably will have to battle for time at first base with Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs.

Meanwhile, the effective left arm of Coste's Ottawa teammate, Brian Mazone, will be on display in Korea the balance of the season. He was granted his release by the parent Phillies despite a 3-2, 2.21 record in six starts this season. It was Mazone who put up a dazzling 13-3 record with a 2.03 ERA at Scranton/Wilkes Barre (the Phils' top farm club until this year) in 2006, but the 30-year-old's soft deliveries couldn't have impressed the top brass much to let him get away with pitching at such a premium everywhere.

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