Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
It is very difficult for a non-roster player, especially one without previous major league experience, to break through to baseball’s top level. If the player is beyond the mid-20s and his team is one of the game’s best, well, the odds get even tougher.
Not impossible, though. Just ask longtime Independent Baseball standouts such as Chris Coste and Chris Colabello.
Ryan Court, the middle infield sparkplug on Sioux City’s powerful 2015 American Association team, is doing a terrific job this spring trying to become the next Indy stalwart to defy the odds, even though he turns 30 in a couple of months (May 28) and his challenge is to squeeze onto the potent Chicago Cubs roster.
If he doesn’t make it for Opening Day, maybe later during the 162-game grind.
Court is getting into the Cubs’ box score nearly every day, at least for a few innings, and he has put together a .400 (6-for-15) batting average despite an 0-for-2 Tuesday and twice has been a late-inning offensive hero.
The Illinois State product, who has been playing professionally since Arizona drafted him in 2011 and gets bonus points because he can play anywhere on the infield and some in the outfield, is making it very difficult for Theo Epstein or Joe Maddon to forget about him since he played a major role in two Cactus League victories in a four-day span.
Last Friday (March 2) the 6-foot-2 Court delivered a bases-loaded double with two out in the ninth to break at 3-3 tie against the Los Angeles Angels, then three days later struck a go-ahead solo home run with one out in the top of the ninth as the Cubs edged Colorado.
Overall this spring, Court has played in 11 of the Cubs’ 12 games and shares the team lead in runs with seven. He has two doubles, two homers, four runs batted in and two stolen bases along with an impressive .500 on-base percentage.
“Playing for your hometown team and getting that dream to play in Wrigley (Field), it’s an honor to put on the Cubs uniform every day,” the Elgin, Ill., native told The Northwest Herald. “It keeps me going. I come to the ballpark with a smile every day.”
Court makes it clear his time in Sioux City also was great for him. “I had a lot of fun playing Indy ball,” he told the newspaper, “and I think it’s because a lot of guys are in the same situation. “They’ve been out of pro (affiliated) ball, trying to fight to get back, so everyone was pulling for each other. Indy ball was great, and now being with these guys, that seems like it’s the Cubs culture, to pull for your team. The motto this year is ‘everybody in’. It couldn’t be more true with this group.”
After hitting .331 with a .400 on-base percentage in 99 games for Sioux City, Court spent the last two years with Boston’s top two farm clubs, bouncing back from a fractured foot last April to go .263/.347 in 106 games at Triple-A Pawtucket.
“It’s a dream come true already (wearing a Cubs uniform),” Court told The Herald. “Playing in Wrigley is going to be the best thing in my life.”
Sounds confident he will get the opportunity at some point, right?
Corcino Gets Exposure
Outfielder Edgar Corcino is the latest American Association graduate to get moved from a minor league camp to suit up for the parent team (Minnesota) for a short time.
The switch hitter, who played in El Paso when he was only 21 in 2013, has gotten into two Grapefruit League games so far (0-for-2). Corcino was a Southern League all-star last season when he hit .306 with six homers and 50 RBI for the Chattanooga Lookouts and also got his first extended trial in Triple-A, hitting .224 with three RBI in 20 games for Rochester.
Steady Does It
Junior Guerra and Aaron Wilkerson are holding their own in bids to open the season with Milwaukee, possibly in starting roles. Guerra (Wichita) has a 1.50 earned run average after three appearances (two starts) while Wilkerson (Grand Prairie) is at 2.25. He has given up only two hits in four innings in three appearances (one start) and has a save.
Previously the chief spokesman for Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about Independent Baseball since 2003. He is a frequent contributor to this site, has a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and a book about his life, “The Passion of Baseball”, is available at Amazon.com or WirzandAssociates.com.