While the COVID-19 surge that shut down the Miami Marlins for more than a week was a devastating blow for Don Mattingly's young team it has proven to be a fortunate break for two former Independent Baseball pitchers and could help still others.
Hard-throwing James Hoyt and southpaw Brian Moran have new baseball lives with the Marlins organization that may well not have happened without the pandemic which stopped nearly 20 Miami players in their tracks.
In these fluid times in the major leagues hardly a day goes by without transactions that involve those who have been in Indy leagues at some time, with intriguing recent stories involving Caleb Thielbar's first major league opportunity in five years and United League/Pecos League find Yermin Mercedes debut, if only for a day.
Hoyt, who started his professional career in the North American League and American Association back in 2012, did not make Cleveland's Opening Day roster and shortly after was designated for assignment by the Indians. He seems to have gotten a break in that he was sold to Miami and is on the Marlins' active roster. Moran, who has pitched in the Atlantic League (Bridgeport), had a similar fate after opening the season with Toronto. He has not been added to Miami's active roster as yet, but he is on the team's 40-man roster and at the alternate training site and seems likely to get the opportunity.
Thielbar, now 33, has had a long career jumping back and forth between the American Association's St. Paul Saints and the Minnesota Twins, and the left-hander was promoted from the American League team's alternate training site team to the parent club Monday. He appeared in 109 games for Minnesota during the period 2013-15 (5-3, 2.74), but has been back with the Saints since ('16-'17) as well as spending time in the Detroit and Atlanta farm systems.
The Mercedes story is one of the rare ones in that the catcher started out with three seasons in the Dominican Summer League followed by 2014 in lower level Independent leagues (United and Pecos). He earned three seasons in the Baltimore farm system and joined the Chicago White Sox chain in '18, but he did not even reach Triple-A until last season. The White Sox had him on the 40-man roster and with their alternate training team until Sunday when the 5-foot-11, 235-pound hopeful finally got a call to the majors. Mercedes got one time at bat, then was sent back to the alternate group. Hopefully, more opportunities will come along.
Some Other Moves
Boston called up Chris Mazza (Southern Maryland, Atlantic League, and San Rafael, Pacific Association) to join its struggling mound corps and another right-hander, Justin Topa (Rockland, Can-Am League), has been promoted to Milwaukee's alternate training team. Pitcher Wilmer Font (Ottawa, Can-Am) has been activated from the injured list by Toronto while catcher Rene Rivera (Camden, Atlantic) and lefty Rich Hill (Long Island, Atlantic) have gone on 10-day lists of the New York Mets and Minnesota, respectively.
Two players who were in the newly-created Constellation Energy League in Sugar Land, TX, have been obtained by major league organizations. Veteran major league reliever Fernando Rodney has joined Houston's alternate training team and pitcher-outfielder Brett Eibner has done the same with Miami. Eibner, who has played the outfield for three major league teams, was a two-way player for Texas of the American Association and the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League last season.
Tampa Bay dropped hurler Trevor Richards (Gateway, Frontier League) from its active roster, sending him to the alternate training squad.
Stay tuned. More moves are inevitable.