Photo via Toldeo Mud Hens
By Bob Wirz
Now that the American Association can boast that one of its players from last season is already in the major leagues before the new season begins, the guessing game can legitimately begin as to which of the league’s graduates is likely to join Parker Markel next in The Show.
Among the other pitchers, Tim Adleman, Tayler Scott and Mike Kickham have to rank among the candidates. Scott and Kickham were non-roster invitees to major league spring training camps and Adleman, a starter with Cincinnati for good chunks of both 2016 and ’17, has recently gotten a fresh opportunity one year after drawing a nice paycheck with Korea’s Samsung Lions.
Adleman would seem likely to be first on deck since he has made 33 major league starts (9-15, 4.97 in 43 total appearances), and he was sharp in three outings for Long Island of the Independent Atlantic League before signing with Detroit this week and being assigned to Triple-A Toledo. The 31-year-old, who was exclusively a reliever when he pitched for Lincoln and El Paso in the American Association seven years ago, only allowed two runs and six hits in 14 innings for Wally Backman’s Ducks (2-0, 1.64).
The curious thing is that Cincinnati, where he got all of his major league experience, only gave the right-hander one major league inning in spring training this year. He has not yet thrown a pitch for Toledo.
Kickham, a 30-year-old southpaw with limited major league experience, made it to the last week of spring training with the Miami Marlins. Four of his last five appearances for Triple-A New Orleans have been scoreless with 10 strikeouts in eight innings to whittle his season-long earned run average to 3.98 although six homers allowed in slightly over 20 innings could be unnerving. He made 14 starts for the Kansas City T-Bones three years ago, helping him garner the chance with Miami.
Scott, only 26, is with his third organization since his time with Sioux City in ’16, and after a rocky start this season with Seattle’s top farm club (Tacoma) he has struck out 15 Pacific Coast League hitters while allowing only three hits in eight scoreless innings spread over four outings.
Markel Debuts Against Mookie, J. D.
Parker Markel labored through nine previous professional seasons, including ’17 in Korea and last season toiling for Sioux City (1-1, four saves, 4.14 and an impressive 62 strikeouts in 41.1 innings), and when he finally got to step on a major league mound last Sunday who was waiting at Fenway Park but Mookie Betts and J. D. Martinez. He retired those two standouts before allowing two runs on three hits and a walk in a debut inning for Seattle.
“This is my 10th season of pro ball, so I’ve been around a lot of different places,” Markel confirmed to MLB.com. “But going from there to here, definitely is a big jump.
“There was a couple times throughout my career where (my wife and I) were like, ‘Do you want to keep doing this?’…It was one of those things, being 28 now, it was like, let’s keep grinding through it.”
The decision seems to be paying off. The Mariners know should know a great amount about what they have because of his 35 strikeouts in a mere 17.1 innings and a 0.52 ERA in the minors this season.
This ‘n That
Kevin McCanna (Sioux City) is 2-0 at Double-A Jackson (Arizona farm system) after giving up one run an fanning eight in five innings…another right-hander, Matt Solter (Gary and St. Paul), won his first start for Class A-Advanced Lynchburg (Cleveland), a six-inning, two-run, seven strikeout job…Although his foot contusion injury is gone, Milwaukee’s bullpen settled down while Aaron Wilkerson (Grand Prairie) was on the injured list so he is back at San Antonio. He has made four starts for the Missions this season, including five shutout innings while on a rehab assignment and 4.1 more Tuesday for a 0.87 ERA.
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 at www.WirzandAssociates.com.