Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
This story should be required reading for Cody Satterwhite, Geoff Broussard, Derek Eitel, James Hoyt, Ian Thomas and perhaps several other former American Association hurlers who are just short of realizing their major league dream.
Two of the league’s other graduates, although far from prominent names in the minor leagues, have been called up to start National League games in the last three days.
Tim Adleman went through his major league debut in splendid fashion for Cincinnati Sunday.
Junior Guerra (pictured), a 31-year-old who has been playing professionally since 2003 when he was a catcher, got a win in his first major league start for Milwaukee Tuesday night. His only previous big-league experience was for four innings spread over three relief appearances for the Chicago White Sox last season.
Both Adleman, 28, and Guerra appeared to be long shots for these opportunities when the season started a month ago because they had years of trying to reach The Show and had just come off spring training experiences when their earned run averages were, well, ugly.
Adleman, who spent 2012 relieving for El Paso and Lincoln plus the next summer in the Can-Am League but had not pitched above Class AA until this season, even drew praise from the opposing manager after his six-plus innings in which he allowed only two runs and three hits with six strikeouts in the Reds’ 6-5, 11-inning win at Pittsburgh.
“He was really cool out there today, and he was very effective,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “And the hitters were saying the same things–‘This guy’s pitching a good ballgame, he’s hitting his spots, he’s mixing it up.'”
Guerra’s journey to the majors has been one not many players have taken. From being a catcher in his early years, the right-hander started seeing limited mound duty in the Atlanta and New York Mets farm systems before he was suspended for 50 games for a drug violation in ’09. He was a starting pitcher for Wichita in 2011 and again in 2013 with a combined 18-7 record, and also played in Mexico, Italy and always in winter baseball in Venezuela, but did not get another affiliated job until last season.
“I think he’s probably hitting his stride as a pitcher,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as he planned to start Guerra against the Los Angeles Angels. “That’s why he’s here now (after a strikeout an inning and a 0-2, 4.63 record for four starts with Colorado Springs, where pitching is difficult). He’s as good as he has ever been. His off-speed is a swing-and-miss pitch. I’m confident from seeing him throw you’re going to get strikes from him.”
Meanwhile, down in the affiliated minor leagues, Satterwhite (Sioux City) has been excellent out of the bullpen for his new organization, the Angels. At Triple-A Salt Lake, he is 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA for nine relief appearances. Another Sioux City grad pitching in the Angels’ system, Broussard has struck out 12 in 8.1 innings while saving two games and posting a 3.24 ERA for Double-A Arkansas.
Thomas (Winnipeg) is trying to get back to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they have stretched the 29-year-old southpaw out his last two appearances with starts which have resulted in seven scoreless innings and 11 strikeouts. He has allowed only four hits and a walk in that period as his earned run average has dipped to 1.26. He got into 14 major league games last season between Atlanta and the Dodgers, but he only started one time.
Eitel, a 28-year-old righty, is 1-0, 1.74 for eight outings with San Diego’s top farm club in El Paso, and Hoyt, who barely missed out on opening the season with Houston, continues to rack up strikeouts and saves for the Astros’ Triple-A club in Fresno. In 12 appearances, he is 0-2 but has seven saves in as many opportunities with a 2.03 ERA and has fanned 22 in only 13.1 innings while allowing only seven hits and five walks. Both players were with Wichita.
Paxton’s Return Could Come Soon
It would not be surprising to see James Paxton (Grand Prairie) back with Seattle before long. After a slow start when he was sent down to Tacoma during spring training, the lefty has allowed only one earned run in his last 17.1 innings covering three starts. He has fanned 18 and walked only one in that time. Overall, Paxton is 3-2, 3.42 for five starts.
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.