As I did my homework in spring training, one of the things I wanted to know was who might be the first Golden League graduate to reach the major leagues.
The jury still is out, of course, but Phillies scout Mal Fichman, who spent several seasons as the Independent Baseball talent boss for San Diego, said he knew the Padres were "high on" Manny Ayala. He can reach 93-94 on the radar gun, with an effective changeup as his second best pitch.
Ayala got the Opening Night start for Lake Elsinore in the California League Thursday night, and while he was charged with the loss he gave up only four hits and one run in his six innings. His Golden League work was at Mesa, AZ in 2005.
Higher up the minor league food chain, onetime Detroit Tigers hurler Adam Pettyjohn, who pitched for Long Beach, CA in the Golden League, got the Opening Night nod for Class AA Huntsville, AL. Now one of the lefty prospects for Milwaukee, he had an impressive seven strikeouts (one walk) in four innings of work. Pettyjohn was touched for four hits and two runs.
Victor Hall, who Reno, NV Manager Les Lancaster liked last summer because of his "solid defense" in centerfield and his speed, went one-for-four in his debut with Philadelphia's Clearwater team in the Florida State League.
Newly-signed outfielder Kennard Jones went 0-for-2 in his debut in the Baltimore organization. Jones, who has power, speed and a plus arm, is in the Carolina League (Frederick, MD). He had signed with, but never played for Reno.
That's a solid opening night for the Golden League, which soon will start its third season.
Friday, April 06, 2007
OPENING NIGHT STARTS FOR TWO GOLDEN LEAGUE MOUND PROSPECTS
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.