Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz

The seven American Association players on active major league rosters (two more are on disabled lists), including recently-promoted Houston strikeout artist James Hoyt, get most of the attention, but the league stands tall with another 54 of its former players in affiliated minor league systems.

American Association alumni in Major League Baseball
American Association alumni in affiliated minor leagues

Positive Hoyt Back in Majors

James Hoyt (pictured) stayed positive when he was the final player cut by the Houston Astros before the regular season started, and it has already paid dividends.

Hoyt was recalled from Fresno, ironically to fill the vacancy of injured Jandel Gustave, the pitcher who beat him out for the 25th job on Opening Day.

“The day came a little sooner than I expected, but I was ready,” he told The Houston Chronicle.  It certainly seemed that way.  He fanned three batters in his season debut at Tampa Bay, throwing 15 of 21 pitches for strikes in his 1.2 innings.  Hoyt had thrown five scoreless innings at Fresno before rejoining the Astros, for whom he debuted with 22 appearances last season (1-1, 4.50, 28 strikeouts in 22 innings).

From Sioux City to Brink of Fenway Park

It was only two years ago when Sioux City ran away with the Central Division title by 25 1/2 games, and one of the keys to that 75-25 powerhouse team was all-American Association second baseman Ryan Court.  His many achievements included hitting .331 with a .400 on-base percentage.

The versatile 28-year-old is only one step from breaking through to the major leagues for the first time, and so well liked by the parent Boston Red Sox that they got him into five spring training games for John Farrell’s team even though he was assigned to the minor league camp.

Court’s ability to play any of the four infield positions and even occasionally move to leftfield adds to the 6-foot-2 athlete’s chances of someday making it to Fenway Park.  He played in 103 games between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket in his initial season after leaving the Explorers, hitting .277 with four homers and 46 runs batted in.

He is hitting .313 (10-for-32) at Pawtucket so far this season after going 5-for-15 in his last four games. He had one other standout game in a 6-0 shutout of Syracuse when he had a single, double and triple and scored twice.

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,, and his book, “The Passion of Baseball”, came out in October and is available at traditional book-buying sites, or at


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