September 17, 2021

Daubach Interesting Choice as Bryce Harper’s First Manager

March 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

     One of the charms of spring training that builds so much momentum for a baseball season is the great writing that emerges, and the memorable stories those in the baseball-writing business dig up. 

      Washington Post writer Dave Sheinin brought to the surface the fact Brian Daubach, who managed in the Can-Am League at Nashua, NH and last season at Pittsfield, MA, very likely is going to have the much heralded Bryce Harper on his roster when he starts managing the Washington Nationals’  low Class A team in Hagerstown, MD next month.

      Harper could not be more highly regarded in that the Nationals gave him an all-time position player record of $9.9 million when they tabbed him as the No. 1 selection in last summer’s draft after he had left high school two years early after being selected Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year as a sophomore.  Harper entered Southern Nevada Junior College where he hit .417 with 23 homers in only 180 at-bats, reached base .509 per cent of the time and stole 16 bases.  Formerly a catcher, he has started his first pro season as a rightfielder in Washington’s major league camp, and has continued to swing a solid bat, collecting five hits in 14 at-bats (.357) with two doubles and three RBI.

      Sheinin, with concurrence from Nationals Farm Director Doug Harris, went to great length to point out how valuable Daubach could be in teaching the 18-year-old Harper the ways of the game since Daubach had to scratch for everything he accomplished before finally putting together a decent major league career which included hitting 84 home runs for Boston.

      “He was released, ‘granted’ free agency or otherwise trash-heaped no fewer than eight times”, the writer pointed out, during nearly nine minor league seasons and was condemned as a replacement player in 1994-95, which led to him being denied membership in the strong player’s union.

      “I like the fact that he was in the Can-Am League because he had to do a little bit of everything,” Harris told The Post author.  The 39-year-old Daubach said his work in Pittsfield included selling “tickets, sponsorships, signage.  Whatever we could sell.  I got pretty good at it.”  Harris said he also  likes “the fact he’s been in the media, because that’s another aspect of his experience he can share with his players.”

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Former Atlantic Leaguer Wielding Torrid Bat

       Most every spring training seems to produce at least one sizzling hot former Independent player, sometimes when least expected.  Chris Coste has had a turn.  Last season it was Jon Weber, who was the Yankees’ Rookie of the Year, and did everything but land on the major league roster.

      It is pretty clear who this spring’s star is.

      It is onetime New York Yankees prospect Erick Almonte, a .302 hitter with 77 RBI for the Long Island (NY) Ducks in the Atlantic League in 2006 well after his career with the Bronx Bombers faded out.  This former shortstop, now 33, has positioned himself to possibly grab the final bench spot with Milwaukee by becoming a hit machine.  Almonte has 10 hits in the last four games, and he was at bat only once on one occasion and twice in Wednesday’s game when his eighth inning homer and ninth inning RBI-double helped the Brewers outscore Arizona, 11-8.

      Almonte leads the team with his .429 average (12-for-28), hits, RBI (8), total bases (23), on-base percentage (.448) and slugging (.821).

      “He’s a professional hitter that gives you that good at-bat,” Manager Ron Roenicke told  “Our minor league guys like him.  We’ve got that spot to fill (on the bench), and it needs to be a right-handed hitter.  He’s got a chance to be that guy.”

 Wily Mo Pena Also Heating Up

      The Atlantic League has what is believed to be a record 21 players—probably also an all-time high for any Independent league—getting time in major league camps, and another of those swinging the bat well is first baseman-outfielder Wily Mo Pena, who spent much of last summer at Bridgeport, CT.

       Out of the majors since 2008 even though he has 77 big-league homers in his career, Pena is hitting .364 (8-for-22) with two home runs for Arizona.

         (This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes year round on Independent Baseball.  Fans may subscribe at, enjoy his blogs, and, or comment to  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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