By Bob Wirz
Mike Kickham once retired Coco Crisp, Chris Young and Yoenis Cespedes in order to start a game for the San Francisco Giants.
(Photo Credit: Kansas City T-Bones)
The problem is that was in the lefty’s major league debut, and it was a lifetime ago in May of 2013. He has only made 13 more major league appearances (two of them starts) and still is in search of a coveted first victory at baseball’s top level.
Kickham has gone through four additional seasons since he last appeared on a big-league mound, including more than two months with the Kansas City T-Bones in 2016, which followed stints in the Seattle and Texas farm systems and a second term with the Giants.
The 6-foot-4 hurler is about to turn 30 (December 12), but the good news is the Miami Marlins, who have had him in their organization since he left the T-Bones, still want Kickham as evidenced by re-signing him after he became a free agent last month and inviting him to their major league spring training camp for the second year in a row.
The Marlins are satisfied Kickham is healthy despite two terms on the disabled list last season and with a 1.69 earned run average during nine relief appearances (5.1 innings) in about a month in the Dominican Republic this fall. His excellent slider and solid sinking fastball which have accounted for many a strikeout in the minors say a lot. And, do not forget he is left-handed.
James Hoyt Also Invited to Spring Training
Onetime American Association reliever James Hoyt (Wichita, 2012) also is headed back to a major league spring training camp with a non-roster invitation from the Cleveland Indians, who non-tendered the right-hander December 1, then quickly handed him a minor league deal that includes a trip to their Goodyear, AZ training camp.
Hoyt, now 32, got his long-awaited first major league opportunity with Houston in ’16-’17 (65 appearances, 2-1, 3.07), but he spent all but one day in Triple-A last season before he was traded to the Indians in July. Knee problems kept him sidelined at Columbus almost entirely after the trade so it is a good sign the Tribe still see value. Ninty-four strikeouts in 71.2 major league innings speak loudly.
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 a book about his life, “The Passion of Baseball”, is available at Amazon.com or for signed copies at www.WirzandAssociates.com.