September 28, 2021

Many Indy Players in Running Two Weeks Before Openers

March 17, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

     The axe started dropping this week, sometimes unexpectedly, dashing the hopes of several former Independent Baseball players of being on Opening Day rosters with their parent major league clubs.  It does not have to be a forever disappointment, but a reality check at least for right now and their names will appear in minor league box scores in Durham and Albuquerque and Des Moines instead of in Chicago or Los Angeles or Tampa Bay. 

      Balancing these stories, we will outline numerous situations where other Indy players seem still to be within realistic reach of making the coveted 25-man rosters within the next two weeks.  These players are battling every spring training day to outlast the competition, and, by the way, earn major league salaries starting at more than $400,000 instead of minor league pay that likely would be no more than one-quarter of that amount.

Lindsey, Coello Among Those Cut

      John Lindsey, Robert Coello, Dane delaRosa, Chris Oxspring, Jon Huber and Clay Zavada were among the 48 Indy grads who started out in major league camps a month ago and have had their hopes dashed.

Almonte, Wily Mo Pena Staying Within Reach of Jobs

       The logical place to start for those still very much in the hunt for Opening Day jobs in the majors is with the two clear standouts among those without major league slots with their names on them when camp opened.  This means Milwaukee utilityman Erick Almonte and Arizona first baseman-outfielder Wily Mo Pena, both with Atlantic League time. 

      Almonte, 33, who played third base (and some shortstop) for Long Island, NY back in 2006, has only 39 previous major league games, the last of those seven years ago.  Pena, 29, has 560 major league contests and 77 homers, but has not been in the big time since ’08 when he struggled to a .205 average (two round-trippers) in 64 games for Washington.  He was at Bridgeport, CT the first half of last year.

     Almonte is battling for the last utility job with the Brewers with his bat speaking mightily.  He is hitting .422 (19-for-45) with three homers and 10 RBI in 17 appearances.  Pena is in a similar spot with the D-Backs, carrying a .379 average (11-for-29) with three homers and six driven in.

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Where Others Stand in Roster Battles

      Mark DiFelice (Camden and Somerset, NJ, Atlantic League), Justin James (Kansas City, KS, Northern League) and Brandon Kintzler (St. Paul, MN, American Association, and Winnipeg, Northern) all seem to have a shot at a Milwaukee bullpen job, but they likely are in a race along with a couple of others for just one opening.  All three have been in six games, showing sharp control.  Kintzler’s ERA is the best at 1.04, but DiFelice is at 1.59 with more experience on his side and James’s 4.05 is not bad. 

      Veteran Randy Williams (Edinburg, TX, Central League) still has a chance to be one of the left-handed specialists in the Boston pen.  He has allowed just three hits and a walk (seven strikeouts) in 6.2 innings (2.70).  R. J. Swindle (Schaumburg, IL, Northern, and Newark, NJ, Atlantic) could be one of Tampa Bay’s southpaws.  The fact he leads all Rays pitchers in appearances (nine) is one good sign, and he has been stingy, 3.38 ERA with only six hits and two walks in eight innings. 

      Among right-handers still getting opportunities to squeeze their way onto rosters are Mark Prior (Orange County, Golden League) with the New York Yankees, comeback-minded Greg Burke (Atlantic City) with San Diego and Gabe DeHoyos (Schaumburg) with Oakland.  DeHoyos has been exceptional (0.00, only three hits in 4.2 innings over six outings) as he bids, at age 30, for his very first major league role. 

         (Bob Wirz also writes about Independent Baseball on two other sites, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com and www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com. Fans may subscribe for 2011 to this Independent Baseball Insider column (these are excerpts) at www.WirzandAssociates.com or comment to RWirz@aol.com.  The author has 16 years of major league baseball experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners, and lives in Stratford, CT.)

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