The major leagues' so-called Summer Camp turned out to be a bonanza for at least five players with Independent Baseball playing experience, with the American Association's bounce-back lefty Tyler Matzek topping the list.
Matzek, who pitched for the Texas AirHogs for significant time each of the last two years in his quest to overcome wildness and other issues and return to the majors for the first time since the '15 season, backed up his terrific spring training during Summer Camp to earn a spot on the Atlanta Braves' 30-man Opening Day roster.
Matzek was one of five onetime Indy players who began the re-start of training without a spot on the coveted 40-man roster who is on an active major league roster for the official start to the 2020 season. The others making the grade are pitchers Ross Detwiler with the Chicago White Sox, Brian Moran with Toronto, Pittsburgh's Nik Turley and catcher Rene Rivera with the New York Mets. All four of the hurlers throws left-handed and the entire group has at least a little major league experience.
Another 17 Indy grads also are on active rosters while right-handers John Brebbia of St. Louis and Wilmer Font of Toronto are on the injured list. An additional 15 players with non-affiliated experience, including injured hurler Parker Markel of the Los Angeles Angels, remain on the alternate list and could get promoted as needed.
The complete list of 22 players active in the majors with their current affiliation and their Independent teams and leagues follows:
PITCHERS (18): *Nick Anderson, Tampa Bay (Rockford and Frontier Grays, Frontier League); Ross Detwiler, Chicago-AL (York, Atlantic League); *Randy Dobnak, Minnesota (Utica, United Shore League); *Zac Grotz, Seattle (Bridgeport and York, Atlantic League, and Washington, Frontier); Junior Guerra, Arizona (Wichita, American Association); Rich Hill, Minnesota (Long Island, Atlantic); Brandon Kintzler, Miami (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, then in Northern League); *Chris Martin, Atlanta (Grand Prairie, American Association); Tyler Matzek, Atlanta (Texas, American Association); Brian Moran, Toronto (Bridgeport); *James Paxton, New York-AL (Grand Prairie); Trevor Richards, Tampa Bay (Gateway, Frontier); *Tanner Roark, Toronto (Southern Illinois, Frontier); Chaz Roe, Tampa Bay (Laredo, American Association); *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth, American Association); Nik Turley, Pittsburgh (Somerset, Atlantic); Marcus Walden, Boston (Lancaster, Atlantic); Eric Yardley, Milwaukee (Trinidad and Taos, Pecos League).
POSITION PLAYERS (4): 1B-OF Jose Martinez, Tampa Bay (Rockford); OF David Peralta, Arizona (Amarillo and Wichita, American Association, and, Rio Grande Valley, North American League); C Rene Rivera, New York-NL (Camden, Atlantic); INF Ildemaro Vargas, Arizona (Bridgeport).
*First professional game was in an Independent league
Yermin Mercedes did not make the Chicago White Sox Opening Day roster, but the rookie catcher, who matured largely while in the Pecos (Douglas and White Sands) and United Leagues (San Angelo), seems to have the respect of General Manager Rick Hahn, who told MLB.com "the debate (between Zack Collins or Mercedes for the third catcher on the team) was we were probably going to be fine either way, but in the end, we felt Zack's left-handed bat and a little bit more experience and familiarity with the arms in the big leagues gave him the advantage. If in the end, for whatever reason, we had to get Yermin active on the big league level, we feel real good with where he's at right now. Certainly, an impressive bat."
Veteran southpaw Caleb Thielbar (St. Paul) seems to have barely missed his first major league opportunity since 2015. Minnesota lists the 33-year-old as one of two pitchers on their "taxi squad".
Not Such Good News
Philadelphia has designated for assignment righty Robert Stock (New Jersey, Can-Am, and Normal, Frontier). He entered camp on the Phils' 40-man roster. Baltimore released southpaw Hunter Cervenka (Sugar Land, Atlantic). He had been in camp as a non-roster invitee in February.
Friday, July 24, 2020
2019 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION HURLER AMONG 5 INDY GRADS WHO MAKE JUMP TO MAJORS
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.