Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
One of the fortunate 13 counting the days until pitchers and catchers report to major league camps is Texas’s right-handed reliever Tanner Scheppers, who started his professional career with St. Paul in 2009.
“I’d rather be pretty silent about my mission, ” he told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram while helping the Rangers kick off their winter promotional caravan. “I’ll let my work on the field talk for itself. I go into every year saying I feel the best I’ve ever felt. I could sit here and toot that horn all day, but at the end of the day I just want to go out there and play.”
After consecutive injury-marred seasons in which he combined to pitch only 61.2 innings after throwing 76.2 in 2013, Scheppers knows the Rangers have built up a bullpen around him that has him feeling somewhat like a forgotten man.
“It’s (the competition) something I’m looking forward to, looking forward to a new beginning,” said Scheppers, who will turn 29 this weekend. Both the pitcher and the Rangers are hoping for a return to the form he showed in ’13 when he put up a 1.88 earned run average for a busy 76 appearances, allowing only 58 hits in those 76.2 innings and winning six of eight decisions.
Flurry of Major League Signings Should Help As Teams Recruit for 2016 Rosters
While American Association teams remain in the early stages of putting 2016 rosters together, if managers or player personnel bosses need extra sales points in order to attract players they covet they do not have to look very far.
Four more of the league’s players had their contracts picked up by major league organizations in the eight-day period from January 4-Monday. The hopefuls also should note that 13 former Association players already are assured of being in major league training camps, which is more than any other Independent league can tally, with that number a virtual certainty to climb as more non-roster invitations are handed out between now and reporting dates in mid-February.
Players are not the only American Association personnel getting opportunities with major league organizations, either, with the latest example being longtime Wichita manager Kevin Hooper. The energetic former major league infielder, 39, whose Wingnuts earned more victories than any other club in the league since he started managing in ’09, is the new infield coordinator for the San Diego Padres.
Previously the chief spokesman for 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 as well as writing his own blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com.