Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz

Only one year removed from earning Pitcher of the Year honors in the American Association, Patrick Johnson may be building a similar resume in the tough Dominican League.

The right-hander, who was 15-1 with a 2.08 earned run average at Sioux City, turned in his third consecutive stingy outing this week, lowering his ERA in starting roles to 2.00, which would rank second in the league if he had more innings.

Listed at 5-foot-10, the 28-year-old Johnson has been limited to five innings in his last three starts, but has allowed only eight hits in the 15 innings while winning his only two decisions.  One of the efforts was for no-hit work.  His overall ERA is 2.79 for 19.1 innings, including two relief appearances.

Johnson will head into his second season in the Miami farm system in the spring, still listed at Class AA Jacksonville where he went 8-7, 3.37 and led the team in both strikeouts (113) and innings (128.1).  Twenty-one of his 31 games were in starting roles.

It is difficult to imagine he will not get some opportunities in the major league camp since he got three brief appearances last spring training.

Tracking Other American Association Personalities

  • Oakland has added a non-roster invitation for major league spring training to onetime Wichita starter Chris Smith, who received his first opportunity at that level since his ’13 season with the Wingnuts during 2016.  The 35-year-old righty struck out 29 batters in 24.2 innings during 13 major league bullpen appearances last season in addition to a 6-8 record in 22 starts for Triple-A Nashville.
  • Right-hander Kyle Winkler, 26, sold to Tampa Bay after a 4-0, 0.84 record in eight relief appearances for Laredo last season, is on the Triple-A Durham (Tampa Bay) roster.  He also saved eight games (0-2) and limited Southern League hitters to 21 safeties in 31.1 frames spread over 29 outings for Double-A Montgomery.
  • Free agent pitcher Angel Castro (Lincoln, 2010) is proving his durability as he looks for a new contract. He leads the Dominican League in starts this offseason, taking the bump nine times so far and compiling a 2-4, 3.52 record for 46 innings. The 34-year-old logged his only five major league games with the Oakland Athletics (0-1, 2.25) in ’15, then went 2-8, 5.15 as a starter-reliever combo at Nashville last season.

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”, was introduced in October.


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