Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
RHP Angel Castro, who pitched for the Lincoln Saltdogs during the 2010 season, was called up to the major leagues by the Oakland Athletics on Saturday from Triple-A Nashville. The 32-year-old made his major-league debut that evening by pitching a scoreless two-thirds of an inning against the Seattle Mariners.
The 32-year-old is the 18th American Association alumnus to reach the big leagues, and one of eight alumni currently on big-league rosters.
While American Association managers are working their way through all of their roster possibilities in order to make their 22-man roster decisions in the next week, the league’s alumni continue to build a greater base in the major leagues.
Castro’s breakthrough to the majors for the first time with Oakland increased the league’s depth as did the activation of Luke Hochevar after his year away because of Tommy John surgery and Brandon Kintzler‘s recall from the minor leagues. They raise the count to eight–six active and two on disabled lists.
Castro, 32, made his major league debut last Saturday (May 9) nearly five years after the right-hander out of the Dominican Republic wore a Lincoln uniform.
Kintzler (St. Paul, ’09) returns to Milwaukee, where he already had 165 career relief appearances since 2010 (10-3, 3.26) after a deeply torn nail on his throwing hand finally began healing.
“I think I’ve been throwing the ball great (at Colorado Springs),” Kintzler told The Milwaukee Sentinel Journal. “Ever since the nail thing and I came back from the nail I’ve been throwing the ball really good. I’ve had no issues. My sinker’s been sinking and the velocity has been where I need it to be.”
“When he (Hochevar) came in (after his first major league inning in 585 days), I went over and just shook his hand and said, ‘Hoch, there’s a lot of hours of hard work for that one inning right there,'” manager Ned Yost told FoxSportsKansasCity. “It was a long time coming,” added Hochevar, who debuted professionally with Fort Worth in 2006. “I kind of hit on it (emotionally) in spring (training), the first time I was able to take the mound competitively, but it doesn’t even hold a candle to this. It feels awesome. It feels great to be back and really be a contributor and not just a bona fide fan in the dugout.”
Feel Good Stories Also in Minors
Two other feel good stories from former American Association stars belong to catcher Eddy Rodriguez (El Paso and Sioux Falls, ’09-10) and utilityman Brian Burgamy (St. Paul, ’13), both making contributions in Triple-A.
“I’m very fortunate the Yankees gave me another shot,” the 29-year-old Rodriguez told civitasmedia.com after spending last season as a player-coach in the Tampa Bay system. “I think that my value (with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) is to the pitching staff and I’m grateful that I’m able to help those guys out,” Rodriguez said, who also had a solid spring training with the parent Yankees. “If I tell them one little thing that might change their careers, ya know what I’ve done my job.”
In Burgamy’s case, he was finally promoted to Triple-A for the first time recently after more than 1,400 minor league games. He had hit .341 with a .438 on-base percentage, five homers and eight RBIs at Class AA Tulsa to earn the promotion.
“It’s been kind of fast-paced,” the 33-year-old told MiLB.com of his elevation by the Los Angeles Dodgers to Oklahoma City, where he has a double and an RBI in seven at-bats so far. “Everything’s happened really fast, but it’s a very good thing,” he said. “When I found out a couple days ago, it was kind of a deep exhale. It was something that I’ve been shooting for for a very long time, obviously. Hopefully I can continue to play well here now that I’ve gotten here. It’s not just getting to a spot, it’s playing well where you’re at and going up the ladder.”
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.
Photo: Lincoln Saltdogs