Would anyone want to make a guess at which Independent Baseball graduate's fortunes have improved the most at the major league level since last season? A case can be made for any number of the 47 players who will be in the 30 camps when everyone has reported, but my vote as pitchers and catchers begin checking in would go to George Sherrill.
All of the fanfare in the recent six-player trade between Seattle and Baltimore centered around Erik Bedard since the former Orioles ace went to the Mariners for a quintet of players.
But George Sherrill, who spent four-plus seasons in Independent Baseball before getting his first affiliated opportunity and had two full years and parts of two others with the M's, has emerged as Baltimore's top candidate to close games. "...Orioles Manager Dave Trembley has already notified Sherrill that he would like him to be the team's closer," Baltimore Sun beat writer Jeff Zrebiec reported right after the February 8 trade.
That's quite a change in fortunes for the 30-year-old southpaw even though his 145 bullpen appearances the last two seasons shared the lead in the American League. Sherrill pitched only 45.2 innings last season in 73 outings. He was essentially a left-handed specialist although he did record three of his four career saves in '07.
And it is an even bigger change in career path when one considers the Austin Peay product spent two seasons in the Frontier League (Evansville, IN, 1999-2000) and more than two in the Northern League (Sioux Falls, SD, 2001; Winnipeg, Canada, 2002 and half of 2003) before the Mariners gave him an opportunity July 2, 2003.
Sherrill totes a 10-5 major league record with a 3.67 earned run average and 138 strikeouts in 127.2 innings into his new opportunity.
It will be fun to watch.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
A MAJOR LEAGUE QUIZ AS PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT
Former chief spokesman for Major League Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth. Six years as publicity director for the Kansas City Royals, and a background in newspaper, radio and television. Started Wirz & Associates, a sports PR and consulting firm, in 1985. Has written extensively on Independent Baseball since 2003.