Monday, July 11, 2016

With Success of Cuban Visit CanAm League May Do Again

Buoyed by the success of the three-week visit by the Cuban National Team to all of its six stadiums, the Can-Am League is hoping the experience can be repeated next year.

The league saw a “pretty significant” attendance increase everywhere, commissioner Miles Wolff pointed out. “We are talking about trying to do it again next year”, he added, while admitting a considerable amount of work goes into such an undertaking, including the obtaining of visas.

Rockland (Pomona, NY) had the largest single crowd for a game against the Cubans, Wolff said, and he used Ottawa as an example of the attendance jump with three consecutive crowds of more than 5,000 (a total of 16,386) compared to the Champions’ season average up to now of less than half that amount (2,483).

The Cuban team started slowly when it won only three of 10 games in the league’s three Canadian cities, but reeled off eight consecutive wins during its games in the three United States stadiums to finish 11-9 overall. (Shikoku Island from Japan went 8-12 at the same time.)

Speculation about the reason for the Cuban turnaround included the need to get accustomed to playing most every day as compared to only a few games a week when on its home island.


Aaron Hill drew most of the immediate attention in the recent Boston-Milwaukee trade because of how the veteran infielder could improve the Red Sox’s postseason hopes, but another Aaron in the deal also may benefit.

Right-hander Aaron Wilkerson had been picking up support for his first major league opportunity since the Independent Baseball grad had a combined 6-3, 2.14 record this season between Boston’s top two farm clubs in Portland, ME and Pawtucket, RI. In fact, the 27-year-old had gone 22-7 with a 2.52 ERA in 54 appearances (44 starts) since Boston purchased his contract from the American Association (Grand Prairie, TX) in 2014.

“In Aaron Wilkerson, we are adding a starting pitcher who has had tremendous success in the minor leagues and could be an asset to the major league team in the near future,” Brewers general manager David Stearns told “He’s just never given up (after Tommy John surgery in 2011), Stearns added to “The Red Sox did a good job of finding him and he’s really flown through that system since he signed.”

Wilkerson, who also pitched for Florence, KY in the Frontier League and Fort Worth in the United League, did not hurt his chances of getting called up in his first start for Triple-A Colorado Springs Sunday. He blanked Iowa (Cubs) on two hits and a walk in a four-inning stint.

It also may help that Milwaukee has seen recent success from another American Association grad, Junior Guerra. The onetime Wichita hurler has won six of eight decisions and posted a 3.06 ERA in 13 starts for the team that is 11 games under .500.

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