Independent Baseball Insider by Bob Wirz
One additional American Association grad seemingly making progress toward the major leagues is righty Aaron Wilkerson (pictured), who started his professional career at Grand Prairie.
The 6-foot-3 hurler posted a 4.76 ERA in five South Atlantic League appearances earlier this year before being promoted to the high-A Carolina League where he has been lights out. Wilkerson has won all three of his decisions while starting six times and relieving on three other occasions for Salem, VA, but a better story is told by his 1.55 ERA and only 21 hits allowed in 40.2 innings (.152 average against). He has struck out 47 and walked only eight.
“I’m usually pretty over the top, but today I was more three-quarters and not so much on top of the ball,” Wilkerson told MiLB.com of his most recent start in which he allowed only two hits in seven innings. “I have no clue why, it just kind of happened. I felt more comfortable than being on top.”
FUENMAYOR BACKING UP GIANT 2014
AS TOP HITTER IN TEXAS LEAGUE
Power-hitting first baseman Balbino Fuenmayor probably gets the most attention since he won Baseball America honors last season as Independent Baseball Player of the Year, but at least three other former American Association players also have been selected to play in minor league All-Star Games this season.
Right-handed pitchers Jared Mortensen (Grand Prairie) and Tim Adleman (Lincoln, El Paso) each worked a scoreless inning with a strikeout in the Southern League classic Wednesday. Mortensen gave up one hit and one walk. Second baseman Jonathan Johnson (Shreveport) hit leadoff and scored a run while going 0-for-1 for the South Division, which lost, 7-5.
Fuenmayor, only 25 today, made his first stop after being let go by Toronto during the 2013 season for 18 games at Laredo (.262-2-12). The 6-foot-3 right-handed hitter really took off last season when he was named Most Valuable Player in the Can-Am League for his 23 bombs and 99 runs batted in for Quebec, and he is doing the same kind of damage in Class AA this year, leading the Texas League in hits (90 in 66 games) and home runs (14) and ranking second in RBI (46), average (.344) and doubles (19) for Kansas City’s Northwest Arkansas farm club. He will be part of the mid-summer classic next Tuesday.
Mortensen is at Montgomery, AL in the Tampa Bay system in the Double-A Southern League, Adleman represents Cincinnati while playing for Pensacola, FL in the same league while Johnson is at Savannah, GA of the Class A South Atlantic League while playing for the New York Mets.
Some leagues have not yet selected their All-Star players.
ONLY 32, KYLE HAINES NOW A MANAGER
Kyle Haines will not turn 33 until late next month although he has a decade of middle infield playing experience which topped out at Class AA and included significant stints at Gary in 2011-12. The San Francisco Giants have given him an opportunity to manage their Northwest League team, Salem-Keizer, at Keizer, OR, which has split in its first six games.
“I can easily go back and relate to what they’re (players) going through” in the short-season league that started play last week Haines told StatesmanJournal.com in Salem. “Whether they think the same way or not, I don’t know, but I can definitely relate to them a lot easier than a lot of people probably could. I think that’s (age) a huge advantage.
“I definitely feel like I’m prepared. People look at me and I look young, and I am young in coaching terms, but at the same time I feel like I’ve prepared as good as I can. I’ve been blessed to have been around so many good people that have helped teach me.”
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 blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com.