Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
Today’s crop of former American Association players in the major leagues brought satisfaction to everyone associated with the league because it spelled success.
This extremely productive season ended early Friday morning when the hopes of advancing further in the postseason were dashed for the Washington Nationals’ Brandon Kintzler (St. Paul ’09) and Max Scherzer (Fort Worth ’07). With David Peralta‘s (Wichita ’12, Amarillo ’13) hopes ending a few days earlier when Arizona was eliminated all 12 American Association grads in the majors during 2017 are now on the sidelines.
But everyone who follows the league closely–managers, players, the front office, media and fans–also keep an eye on those who may become the next group of players playing in the majors.
Let us see what some of those who were in Triple-A, the highest minor league level, did this summer.
Six-foot-6 Drew Muren (pictured) seemingly continued to make progress in the second season of his conversion from an outfielder at Gary, Sioux Falls and Fargo to a power pitcher. The right-hander, who turns 29 next month, started the year in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ chain, and finished up the last two months in the San Francisco Giants’ farm system.
Muren got the bulk of his playing time in Class AA compared to mostly in Class A one year ago. That was a good step. He also continued to strike out more than a batter per inning for the entire year–45 in 38.1 innings while allowing only 25 hits, and the combined batting average against him dropped considerably from .242 one year ago to a stingy .180 as he went 3-2 with a 3.29 earned run average for his 28 appearances.
The seed was planted toward Muren trying to pitch for the first time since his days at Cal State Northridge when he attended a Tampa Bay tryout as an outfielder after the ’14 season in Gary and Sioux Falls. “They asked me to get on the mound, and the next thing I know, (the scout) told me I hit 91, 92, 93 and 94 on consecutive pitches,” Muren told Fanrag Sports Network. It has not been unusual for him to even hit 100 miles per hour on the radar gun since.
Versatile infielder Ryan Court (Sioux City) continued to prove he can handle Triple-A, hitting 21 doubles, three triples and 10 home runs with a .263 average and .347 on-base percentage in 106 games at Pawtucket in the Boston organization. He lost some time early with an injury, and the big question now seems to be how to squeeze past the other role players in the Red Sox system.
Cody Satterwhite (Sioux City) turned 30 just before the season started so the clock is ticking on the right-hander. He spent his third consecutive year in Triple-A (part of 2016 he was in Japan), this time getting into 24 games for Washington’s top club in Syracuse, going 1-3, 4.35 with nearly a strikeout per inning.
After going to major league spring training with Minnesota, dependable catcher Eddy Rodriguez (Sioux Falls, El Paso) signed with the New York Yankees for a second time and returned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre where he played more than in any year since 2013. The Cuban native was in 83 games with eight homers and 31 RBI although the defensive-minded backstop only hit .176.
The next step will see which of these players gets added to a 40-man winter roster or invited to major league spring training four months from now.
Photo: FanRag Sports
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 a book about his life, “The Passion of Baseball”, is available at traditional book-buying sites, or at www.WirzandAssociates.com.
Source: American Association