November 28, 2020

Pitchers Not Always the Priority for Major League Clubs; Stavisky Retires While Phelps Is Out

June 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

It often seems like pitchers are the top priority when major league teams go shopping in the Atlantic League or any of the seven other Independent leagues for talent.  As a prime example, only four of the 16 former Indy players currently active or on disabled lists with any of the 30 teams are position players, including Camden shortstop Stephen Drew and Somerset outfielder Michael Ryan.

The bevy of signings this season, 21 at last count (not including those who left to play internationally), represents quite a change.  In fact, it would not take much ingenuity to start a team with those 21 players since eight are pitchers, four catchers, four first basemen, two other infielders and a trio of outfielders.  The pitchers also have been divided equally with four right-handers and just as many lefties.

Sixty-six former Atlantic League players currently are in major league organizations, including the most recent signing of Camden first baseman-designated hitter Jason Botts by Washington for the Nationals’ top farm club in Syracuse. That number would have been two higher except that Philadelphia farmhand Brian Stavisky announced his retirement and Cleveland released first baseman-outfielder Josh Phelps.

Stavisky Hit .301 for His Career

Brian Stavisky’s nine-year professional career after playing at Notre Dame topped out at Triple-A, but “I’m still content with what I’ve done” the outfielder told The Bradford (PA) Era after he had retired from the Reading Phillies this week.

Stavisky leaves with a .301 career batting average for 813 games with 83 homers and 445 runs batted in, which included 29 games at Lancaster in 2008 and a career year in 2004 when he was California League MVP and batting champion (.343) while leading Modesto to the league championship.  That season recently earned him the team’s Player of the Decade.

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Bridgeport’s Phelps Gets Only 21 At-Bats With Tribe

Josh Phelps’s stint in the Cleveland organization is one of those that often anger baseball people even though they may not admit it for fear of jeopardizing future relationships.

Phelps, who was hitting .333 in 22 games for Bridgeport and was beginning to hit his stride when signed May 22, got only 21 at-bats at Triple-A Columbus (4-for-21, 3 doubles, 2 RBI) before being given his walking papers.

Michael Ryan Continues to See Fortunes Improve

Onetime Somerset Patriot Michael Ryan is gradually getting more playing time with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with six starts at first base or the outfield the last two weeks, and he has edged his batting average up to .222 (8-for-36) with half of his hits for extra bases.  It is his first time in the majors since 2005 when he played the last of 260 games with Minnesota.

“Being back (in the majors), it’s been everything I imagined it would be,” Ryan told The Orange County Register.  “It’s very special for me to be in this clubhouse.  I worked so hard.  And there were days when I thought I never would get back.”

(These are excerpts from the Atlantic League Notebook. Subscriptions to the Notebook are available via or  Bob Wirz also writes a weekly column, the Independent Baseball Insider, as well as a blog, 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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