John Holdzkom will forever remain as one of the major success stories out of the American Association because of his meteoric jump from Amarillo to the Pittsburgh Pirates and their wild-card playoff team of 2014. Whether the arm woes that kept the 6-foot-10 on injury lists virtually all of ’16 will ever allow the now-29-year-old to regain his powerful mound form is an unknown, but it certainly is not keeping the right-hander from his near-regal standing in New Zealand.
Holdzkom is visiting his father’s native land for nine days this month, USA Today has reported, as a mentor to younger players.
“It’s great that John is able to come and spend some time in his father’s home country, while also spending some time with our young pitchers and coaches across the nation,” Baseball New Zealand CEO Ryan Flynn told the newspaper. “As one of our only New Zealand representatives to have played in the major leagues, it will give our young players a boost in their efforts to improve their own game and set goals to play at the very highest level.”
The California native first pitched in the American Association when he was in a combined 42 games with Amarillo and Sioux City in 2013, not long after being with the national team in New Zealand in a World Baseball Classic qualifier. His 52 strikeouts in 43.2 innings of Independent play drew major attention.
Still listed as a minor league player in the Chicago White Sox system, Holdzkom was expected to visit schools and participate in coaching clinics in several New Zealand cities.
Scott Still Solid in Arizona Fall League
Sioux City right-hander Tayler Scott continues his outstanding work in the Arizona Fall League. The 24-year-old Milwaukee farmhand, whose contract was picked up and he was placed in Double-A after he had posted a 1.88 earned run average with the Explorers, has a 0.79 ERA after seven appearances and 11.1 innings.
Bosox Seem to Like American Association Players
In following the comings and goings of other former American Association players, Boston is showing strong signs of appreciating the league. The Red Sox are bringing back three position players signed during last season. Infielder-outfielder Ryan Court (Sioux City) is on the Triple-A Pawtucket roster while infielder Jose Sermo (Gary) is listed in Double-A and outfielder Jayce Ray (Wichita) at Class A.
Veteran Kansas City reliever Luke Hochevar (Fort Worth) is a free agent after the Royals declined the $7 million mutual option in his 2017 contract. He is getting a $500,000 buyout. Hochevar, 33, was 2-3 with 14 holds and four blown saves in 40 appearances last season. He posted a 3.86 ERA and fanned 40 batters over 37.1 innings.
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, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and his book, “The Passion of Baseball”, was introduced October 5 .