Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
Next to being called up to the major leagues during the season, the best thing that can happen to a player coming out of the American Association is to be added to a team’s 40-man roster. This assures a player of being in the big-league spring training camp where every move can be seen by the manager and those trusted most with evaluating progress.
The newest addition to these ranks is big right-hander James Needy, who started what turned out to be a terrific bounce-back season from Tommy John surgery with three starts at Sioux City (1-0, 2.93, 20 strikeouts in 15.1 innings).
The Miami Marlins bought the 6-foot-6 hurler’s contract at that point, and he dazzled at times in the Arizona Fall League, probably showing the Marlins all they needed to see November 7 when he struck out nine hitters in four shutout innings in which he allowed only two hits.
Miami added four pitchers, including Needy, to its 40-man roster to get set for the Winter Meetings where additional player movement often occurs. “Those are names nobody knows about, but they’re depth and they’re interesting because they have stuff,” President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill told MLB.com.
Needy’s fastball reached 97 miles per hour in the AFL to follow up on nine regular-season starts with the Marlins’ Class A and Double-A teams when the 26-year-old went 3-3 and posted a 2.33 earned run average.
“I’m not saying that’s the answer (the four new hurlers), but you need situations like that where you get some surprises, players that overachieve,” Hill added.
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 traditional book-buying sites, or at www.WirzandAssociates.com.