February 20, 2020

Weber and Young Arms of Crow, Scheppers and Parise Making Their Mark in Spring Training

March 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

It would be much like splitting hairs if we tried to give a definitive answer as to who among the former Independent players hopeful of becoming a first time major leaguer is having the best spring training up to this point.  Jon Weber,  Aaron Crow and Tanner Scheppers certainly have offered up their work.  Pete Parise could be in the mix, as well.

Weber’s bat could not be hotter for the World Champion New York Yankees, while Crow, Scheppers and Parise are right-handed pitchers showing their stuff.

It is not clear what the Yankees expected when they signed the now 32-year-old Weber this winter and gave him a spring training invite, but it probably was along the lines of thinking he would be nice insurance in Triple-A.  The odds most likely lean to the left-handed-hitting outfielder being in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, PA just like the last two seasons when he was in the International League as a backup for Tampa Bay.

But Weber has to be opening some eyes since he is pounding the baseball, just like he did in Mexico this winter and Durham, NC last season when he hit .302 with 46 doubles, 14 dingers and 69 RBI in 117 games.  This former star of the Frontier League (Canton, OH) and the Northern League (Fargo, ND) has seven hits, including a pair of doubles, and four runs batted in in his first 10 official at bats.  He went 2-for-3 in his most recent outing, and his average actually dropped, from .714 to .700.

Crow and Scheppers were considered fine prospects when they played in the American Association before the draft early last summer, Crow with Fort Worth, TX and Scheppers with St. Paul, MN. They have done nothing to disappoint so far.

Scheppers, whose fastball gets into the upper 90s and he can mix in five other pitches, has only a single shutout inning in an “A” game for Texas so far this spring and two more in “B” competition, but baseball writer Jeff Wilson of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram says the 6-foot-4 23-year-old’s “future is considered as bright as any in the Texas Rangers’ system.”  As for his immediate future, Texas General Manager Jon Daniels told Wilson “in general, the goal is to introduce him to a pro routine, build up arm strength, protect his arm and ultimately use him in such a way that he’s available in the second half if we feel he can help us.”

Crow is currently ticketed to start the season in the minors for Kansas City even though the Royals need pitching, and he already is on their 40-man roster.  “I’ve got to pull the reins on myself on that one (Crow),” Manager Trey Hillman told MLB.com after watching a recent outing when radar readings reached as high as 97 MPH.  “It’s exciting, I won’t deny that,” the skipper added after the two-inning, no-hit, three-strikeout performance.

Parise has only pitched once so far, too, but it interestingly enough was in a successful one-run save situation for Tony LaRussa’s St. Louis Cardinals. The 25-year-old non-roster pitcher, who started his pro career in 2007 for Slippery Rock, PA (Frontier League), came on fast last season when he ended up opening eyes as the closer for Triple-A Memphis, including a postseason run.  Parise’s stock climbed even more this winter when he was named to the all-star team in the climaxing Caribbean Series.

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FOR ADDITIONAL INDEPENDENT BASEBALL COVERAGE?

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Two Women Possible in Playing Ranks

Long known for its willingness to push the bar, it appears two women could be suiting up as players in Independent leagues this summer.

Following in the distant footsteps of pitcher Ila Borders, who was in the Northern League in the late ‘90s, Chico, CA has drafted Japanese sidearm knuckleballer Eri Yoshida for consideration to play in the Golden League and the Big Bend Cowboys of Alpine, TX in the Continental League have first baseman and relief pitcher Tiffany Brooks of Spokane, WA under contract.  Both played in the Arizona Winter League, where most players pay for the opportunity, earlier this year.

“I’m very excited about what playing for the Cowboys will mean to girls and women all over the globe who want to play baseball rather than softball,” Ms. Brooks was quoted in a CBL media release.

(This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes on Independent Baseball.  Fans may subscribe at www.WirzandAssociates.com, enjoy his blogs, www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com and www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, or comment to RWirz@aol.com.  The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)

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