October 19, 2019

Lindsey Looms Large Even With New Indy Players Appearing

December 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

We have pinpointed at least two worthy candidates who could break into the major leagues for the first time in 2011, but even if they make it they will have some distance to travel before they nudge this year’s best headline-maker into the shadows.  Big John Lindsey continues to do and say the things that made the Los Angeles Dodgers so full of praise of the 16-year minor leaguer who made the climb to the National League in September.

The new focus is on a pair of 6-foot-6 or taller right-handed pitchers who are staring the major leagues in the face because they have been promoted to the prideful 40-man roster level, which means when spring training gets here in mid-February they will have lockers alongside those who already have earned household name status.

Dane DeLaRosa, who spent significant time with five separate Independent teams in three different leagues before getting his feet on the ground, will train in Florida with the American League-East champion Tampa Bay Rays.  Fans around Cactus League diamonds in Arizona will get to see Tom Wilhelmsen, who ended a five-year hiatus from the game when he joined Tucson, AZ (Golden League) in 2009.  He returned with such a splash the Seattle Mariners protected him after only 15 games in their farm system and another 10 in the Arizona Fall League.

Both can look back on Independent Baseball as being key in their development.  DeLaRosa was in the Golden League in three separate seasons (Yuma, AZ, 2005; Long Beach, CA, 2007; Orange County, Fullerton, CA, 2008) and divided 2009 between the American Association (El Paso, TX) and Atlantic League (Southern Maryland, Waldorf) before Tampa Bay garnered his rights.  Then, after one season (9-3, four saves, 1.97 in 47 relief appearances at Class AA Montgomery, AL plus two earlier outings in the Florida State League) the Rays decided he deserved a 40-man slot.

Wilhelmsen only worked 11.2 innings in Tucson, AZ (Golden League).  The 11 outings look undistinguished statistically, with two saves and a 6.17 earned run average, but it was with the Toros where Seattle scouts got interested.

Wilhelmsen was out of the game after making the Midwest League All-Star team in 2003 until 2009.  Yes, from ’03 to ’09.  Milwaukee, which had given him a $250,000 bonus to sign because of a 97-mile per hour fastball, suspended him and sent him to a treatment center in 2004 after two failed marijuana tests.  “I was a kid,” he told The Seattle Times earlier this year.  “I was immature.  I just wasn’t ready for (pro) baseball.”

“I’ve found the dream again, and that’s exciting”, the pitcher added.  What a story to watch develop.

Can-Am Experience ‘Changed Attitude’ for John Lindsey

I caught up with onetime New Jersey Jackals (Can-Am League) first baseman John Lindsey as the 33-year-old was headed in for one of his three-times-a-week rehab sessions on his left hand because he had the fourth metacarpal broken by a fastball September 25, ending his stint of less than three weeks as an active major leaguer after playing in the minors from the age of 18.

“I want to go into spring training in the best shape of my life and turn some heads”, said Lindsey, who seemingly earned as many compliments from the Dodgers for his attitude as he did for his play which netted Triple-A all-star honors for his Pacific Coast League-leading .353 batting average along with 25 home runs and 97 RBI at Albuquerque.

Lindsey is full of gratitude for playing Indy baseball at Yogi Berra Stadium with the Jackals for 125 games in 1995-96.  “It changed my attitude on how I played the game”, he said.   “It saved my career”.

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www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com ADDED TO www.IndyBaseballChatter.com

FOR ADDITIONAL INDEPENDENT BASEBALL COVERAGE?

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Atlantic, Can-Am Hurlers Get Major League Invitations

Add two southpaws who we know this early will be in major league spring training camps as non-roster hurlers.  Michael O’Connor and Raul Valdes both would seem to have strong chances of breaking camp with National League teams, too.

MLB.com reporter Anthony DiComo likes O’Connor’s chances, pointing out the New York Mets, who recently re-signed the 30-year-old, may have as few as two left-handers on their 40-man roster.  O’Connor, who started four games for Southern Maryland (Waldorf) in the Atlantic League in ’09, got some major league time with Washington in 2006 and 2008.  The Cuban Valdes was picked up by St. Louis recently.  He had been released by the New York Mets after a rookie major league campaign in which he went 3-3 with a save and a 4.91 ERA in 38 games, including 5.1 innings of three-hit, one-run work in his only start the next to last day of ’09.  Valdes pitched for both the New Jersey Jackals (Little Falls) and Nashua, NH in the Can-Am League in 2006.

(This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes year round 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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