December 13, 2019

One Gets Look from Cards While Other Star Waits

January 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

     The stories of players who have come through the Independent Baseball ranks and show some major league promise are forever fascinating.  Will they get a break by being in the right organization at the right time and make the most of the opportunity or have to settle for a decent minor league career?

      Two such players are going to be especially interesting to watch in the coming weeks.

       We know this much.   Cuban native Amaury Cazana—or Amaury Marti as he is sometimes known—is going to get a chance to showcase his potent bat in the St. Louis Cardinals’ major league camp in Jupiter, FL, even though he will be doing so as a 36-year-old rookie.

       Scott Grimes is nearly a decade younger (27), led all of professional baseball in runs scored last season while helping the York (PA) Revolution win the Atlantic League championship and seems to have all of the other requisite skills to make a mark in some organization, yet he does not even have a contract with one of the 30-major league teams.  Not even a minor league invitation so far.

      Both players are right-handed-hitting outfielders of nearly the same size—Cazana 6-foot-1, 212, Grimes 6-foot, 200—and get on base frequently.  Cazana probably has more power; Grimes more speed.

      Cazana’s non-roster invitation was announced this week, some seven years after he said goodbye to his parents and his two children in Cuba, went into hiding and spent what he has described as “a little over 24 hours in the water” bouncing in a small boat before he landed in Cancun, Mexico.  He started playing professional baseball in the Can-Am League (Elmira, NY) in 2005, then was drafted by the Cardinals the next year.  He has worked his way up, frequently playing in Mexico, including this winter, and hitting 26 homers with 116 runs batted in and a combined .302 average in 173 games over the past 12 months.  He went .305-13-54 with a .353 on-base percentage for Triple-A Memphis last summer.

      Grimes, who also started professionally in the Can-Am League (two years with Sussex in Augusta, NJ, and 2008 at Worcester, MA, where he was the league’s Player of the Year), hit leadoff and played a solid centerfield for York, scoring 138 runs in 132 games during the regular season.  By comparison, Albert Pujols led the majors with 115 runs.  Grimes had 32 doubles, eight triples, 17 homers and 59 RBI while hitting .312 and getting on base 42.9 per cent of the time.  He also stole 28 bases, and was named co-Player of the Year in the Atlantic League.

      “Nothing concrete” with an organization for 2011, Grimes confirmed Thursday.

Non-Roster Count Up to 18

      The count of onetime Independent players with non-roster invitations to major league spring training camps has climbed by eight to 18 since our last report.  Catchers Mike Rivera (Atlantic City, NJ, Atlantic League) and Shawn Riggans (New Jersey, Can-Am League) with Milwaukee, backstop Rene Rivera (Camden, NJ, Atlantic) with Minnesota and pitchers Jon Huber (Lancaster, PA, Atlantic) with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Josh Kinney (River City, Frontier League) with the Chicago White Sox, Chris Oxspring (Cook County, Frontier League) with Detroit and Clay Zavada (Southern Illinois, Frontier) with Arizona.

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Showcase Event Goes on Without Its Organizer

      A showcase workout event under unusual circumstances attracted about 25 players with a range of experience from the major leagues all the way to former collegians hopeful of a professional career.  It was staged in Port Chester, NY this week.

      The unusual part was that the organizer, long time scout Mike DeAngelo, who issued the invitations, passed away suddenly less than two weeks ago.  A scout friend, David Scrivines, who works the Atlantic and Can-Am Leagues searching for talent for the Boston Red Sox, stepped in to save the event.  “Mike did a great job of assembling players”, Scrivines said, and representatives from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, the New York Yankees and the Major League Scouting Bureau plus Independent teams in Bridgeport, CT and Brockton, MA turned out.

         (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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