Independent Baseball Insider by Bob Wirz

With the American Association season underway, scouts are no doubt hoping to find more future major leaguers the likes of Houston’s James Hoyt (Wichita, 2012), who is making a big time impression on the front-running Astros now that they have found room for him on their 25-man roster.

The 30-year-old right-hander has struck out 18 major league hitters in only eight innings spread over six relief appearances as he has won his only decision and put up a 1.13 earned run average.

Hoyt’s slider–or splitter, depending on who one is talking to–is his bread and butter as Grant Brisbee explained recently in an feature on the Idaho native.

“It’s a fine slider. And Hoyt throws it a lot. He’ll throw it when he’s ahead in the count, of course, to get hitters to chase.

“It’s the kind of slider he can throw five times in an at-bat, and still get the hitter to chase the sixth time. More importantly, perhaps, is that Hoyt can pitch backwards with it, throwing it for strikes when he needs to even up the count.

“He’ll throw it to steal a strike on the first pitch of an at-bat. He’ll throw it to close the at-bat.”

Hoyt is one of nine former American Association players with major league teams at present although four of them are on the disabled list.

Fuenmayor Doing Well in Mexico

Balbino Fuenmayor is putting up nice numbers again after being released during spring training by Atlanta.

Without a current major league affiliation and therefore available to any of the 30 major league organizations, Fuenmayor is hitting .303 with four homers and 18 runs batted in for his first 22 games with Veracruz in the Triple-A Mexican League. The former Independent Baseball Player of the Year, as chosen by Baseball America, has a .344 on-base percentage.

In one recent game, Fuenmayor homered and former American Association hurler Nestor Molina (Joplin) hurled five-hit baseball for eight innings to carry the Rojos to a 3-0 victory over Leon. Molina is 4-1, 2.54 for nine starts.

Fuenmayor, who played at Laredo in 2013, is only 27, and in his second season after suffering a devastating knee injury while in the Kansas City farm system.

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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