September 27, 2020

Bluefish Lose All-Star Jesse Hoorelbeke, But Replacement Josh Phelps Has Better Power Numbers

April 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

It could not have been two weeks ago when we heard all-star first baseman Jesse Hoorelbeke and Bridgeport were in negotiation for the 32-year-old slugger to return for a fourth season with the Bluefish.  But news came down Thursday that both Jesse and younger brother Casey have signed to play with Fargo, ND of the Independent Northern League.

It seemed likely Bridgeport would feel some loss of power, although that may have changed Friday when the ‘Fish signed major league vet Josh Phelps. Another right-handed power guy, Phelps hit 31 homers as recently as 2008 for Triple-A Memphis. He played only 17 games in the San Francisco system last year (two homers) before going down with a shoulder injury. Seven months younger than Hoorelbeke, Phelps has had a better career, hitting 64 major league home runs in 465 games (.273 average), with 52 of them coming between 2002 and 2004 with Toronto and Cleveland.

Jesse Hoorelbeke’s home run total had dropped from 33 to 28 to 23 in his three seasons at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard as he drove in 94, 106 and 88 runs in those years, respectively.

As for Casey Hoorelbeke, the right-hander was a so-so 3-3 with a 4.66 earned run average in 43 relief appearances for Bridgeport last summer, which was his first in an Independent league.

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Ryan Freel Nice Addition at Somerset

Anyone interested in a pool to name the first player to get picked up by a major league organization after the 2010 Atlantic League season starts Thursday might want to consider Ryan Freel, the do-it-all hustler Somerset added to its already impressive roster.  That is provided he remains healthy, of course.

Freel, 34, has a career .268 major league average for 594 games with 143 steals and a .354 on-base percentage.  He is best known for his versatility while with Cincinnati, where he averaged 113 games from 2004-07.

For whatever time he is around, Freel should add to the potency of Somerset, which has won the last two Atlantic League titles and five of the last nine.  Manager Sparky Lyle, the onetime standout major league closer, does not go for big names as much as some clubs in the league, but Freel is an exception.

“It sounds like he is the type of guy I want,” Lyle told MyCentralJersey.com.

Ryan and Aldridge Among Those Doing Well

Former Atlantic League players are putting up some impressive numbers in affiliated minor leagues early this season, starting with the outfield duo of Michael Ryan (Somerset) and Cody Aldridge (Newark), who fought all spring for major league jobs with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They are 1-2 on the Salt Lake Bees at .391 and .367, respectively.

Ed Rogers, who played part of 2009 at Bridgeport, is hitting .333 with a .429 on-base percentage while splitting shortstop chores for Arizona’s top farm club at Reno. Rogers also saw considerable duty in spring training with the parent Diamondbacks.

(Subscriptions to the Atlantic League Notebook are available on a monthly or full season basis via www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com or www.WirzandAssociates.com.  Bob Wirz also writes a weekly column, the Independent Baseball Insider, as well as a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com. The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as chief spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)

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