BENCOMO HAS TWO CHANCES TO SHINE IN 2017

Omar Bencomo turned 28 a few days ago so the Venezuelan-born pitcher knows it is time to make his move if he is to break into the major leagues.  The good thing is the onetime Wichita and Laredo righty has two opportunities coming up to prove himself.

He has changed organizations, joining Miami as a free agent after more than one full season with Minnesota, and is starting at Triple-A New Orleans.  He also will pitch for his home country in next month’s World Baseball Classic.

Bencomo started professionally when he was only 18, but his real jump came after he was a combined 6-1, 3.19 in 13 starts between the Wingnuts and Lemurs two years ago.  Minnesota bought his contract late that season, then gave the 6-foot-1 hurler his first opportunity above Class A last season–a combined 7-7, 3.74 between the Twins’ top two farm clubs in Chattanooga and Rochester where he divided his time between starting and relieving.  He actually was better in Triple-A, winning three of four decisions in four starts (five total outings) and showing off great control with only five walks in 28.1 innings.  He also picked up a victory in the recent Caribbean Series.

Five Saltdogs With The Netherlands

Speaking of the WBC, The Netherlands should be the most interesting team for American Association fans to follow since five of its players are on the 2017 roster at Lincoln and six players with league ties are due to play for the team.

First baseman Curt Smith was a robust .331-17-60 for the Saltdogs one year ago while Shairon Martis won nine of 17 decisions with a 3.33 earned run average.

Guerra Stronger After Skipping Winter Baseball

One player who skipped winter baseball was Milwaukee’s Junior Guerra, who did so at the Brewers’ request after his sterling 9-3, 2.81 record as a 31-year-old rookie last season.

“I’ve been playing winter ball all my life, and my career,” Guerra told The Associated Press through a translator at the team’s spring training camp in Phoenix.  “It was different at first, but I was able to get on a program and strengthen my shoulder.  I was able to focus on that, which was nice.”

Guerra, who started his professional career as a catcher, had not won as many games since he went 9-3 and 9-4 in the ’11 and ’13 seasons in Wichita.

An elbow issue caused the Venezuelan righthander to miss much of last August.  “He finished the season healthy, so we didn’t have any concerns there,” manager Craig Counsell told AP, exactly what the team wanted since it expects to have him starting again this season.

Previously the chief spokesman for Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about Independent Baseball since 2003.  He is a frequent contributor to this site, has a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and his book, “The Passion of Baseball”, was introduced in October.

Source: American Association