Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
While spring training camps do not open for another three to four weeks and nearly a dozen major league teams have not identified their full list of non-roster invitees, the American Association is certain to have another strong representation when the spotlight goes on.
Fourteen former American Association players already have assignments to report when the big-leaguers start preparing for the new season in Florida and Arizona. IndyBaseballChatter.com, which maintains extensive records on players from all Independent leagues, has identified 35 pitchers and 11 position players who will be in major league camps with 26 of them on 40-man rosters and 20 others with non-roster invitations which also can turn into Opening Day roles.
While others such as veteran pitcher Luke Hochevar seem likely to be added by some organization, the American Association contingent at this point is made up of 12 pitchers and two position players.
The list, including the major league team and the AA organization(s) they represented. (An n before the name indicates non-roster status and an asterisk shows that the player started his professional career in the American Association:
- Tim Adleman, Cincinnati (Lincoln 2012 and El Paso 2012)
- n-Derek Eitel, Washington (Wichita 2015);
- Junior Guerra, Milwaukee (Wichita 2011, 2013);
- *James Hoyt, Houston (Wichita 2012);
- Brandon Kintzler, Minnesota (St. Paul 2009);
- *James Paxton, Seattle (Grand Prairie 2010);
- Chaz Roe, Atlanta (Laredo 2012);
- *Tanner Scheppers, Texas (St. Paul 2009);
- *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth 2007);
- Bo Schultz (pictured), Toronto (Grand Prairie 2011);
- n-Chris Smith, Oakland (Wichita 2013);
- n-Caleb Thielbar, Miami (St. Paul 2011, 2016).
Position Players (2)
- OF David Peralta, Arizona (Wichita 2012 and Amarillo 2013);
- C n-Eddy Rodriguez, Minnesota (El Paso 2009, Sioux Falls 2010).
Saints’ Argo a Rarity With Triple-A Pact
It is not often that players signed by major league organizations out of the American Association are assigned to a Triple-A contract unless they have previous experience at that level which is one step below the big time. St. Paul’s Willie Argo is an exception.
After spending 2015 and until mid-August of last year with the Saints, the Seattle Mariners have assigned the 27-year-old centerfielder to their top farm club, Tacoma, ahead of this season. Argo is known in great measure for his speed which saw him steal 28 and 14 bases, respectively, in his two seasons with St. Paul. He was only caught stealing a combined four times.
The right-handed batsman also stole 61 times in his last two seasons in the Tampa Bay system with 37 in 2013 and 24 the next year when he played for Double-A Montgomery. The Minnesota native hit .290 in his 155 games with the Saints with 20 homers, 90 RBI and a .394 on-base percentage.
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.