By Bob Wirz
The most recent graduate of the American Association to be invited to a major league spring training camp, southpaw pitcher Ryan Bollinger, also has one of the more intriguing resumes.
(Photo Credit: Winnipeg Goldeyes)
Bollinger made news last July 31 when he was activated by the New York Yankees for one day although he did not get into a game. It was his first time on a major league roster. That just added another chapter for the 27-year-old, who won all four of his decisions despite a 6.67 earned run average for his 27 innings combined between the St. Paul Saints and Winnipeg Goldeyes back in 2014.
Since that time the North Dakota native, who started his professional career with a brief stint at first base, also has pitched in the Can-Am League, in Germany where he had considerable success and the last two winters in Australia. San Diego signed the 6-foot-5 hurler recently and invited him to their major league training camp in Peoria, AZ.
Although regarded as a control pitcher, Bollinger has 25 strikeouts in 17.2 innings in 11 appearances this winter for Brisbane (1-2, 3.57). He has worked primarily out of the bullpen this season after a 10-1 record and 0.76 ERA in Germany during 2017 followed by winning five of six decisions as a starter for Brisbane one year ago and going 8-6, 4.11 as a starter for the Yankees’ top two minor league teams last summer.
While other major league spring training invitations seem likely, Bollinger joins Mike Kickham (Kansas City T-Bones) with Miami and James Hoyt (Wichita) with Cleveland as the non-roster invitees announced so far. Nine other former American Association players are assured of being in major league camps by virtue of being on 40-man winter rosters.
It Is a Relief Role for Guerra
Word has filtered out of Venezuela where onetime American Association starter Junior Guerra likes to prepare for the major league season that the soon-to-be 34-year-old’s immediate future with the potent Milwaukee Brewers will be in the bullpen, where he pitched effectively down the stretch and in the postseason last fall.
“Now I’m taking on a new role, working from the bullpen,” the veteran told LVBP.com. “These are conditions imposed on me by the team to throw here because in the United States I’m not going to (start) games either. They (Brewers) are clear that pitching in Venezuela does me a lot of good. The Brewers see me as the pitcher of the sixth or seventh (inning) in the 2019 season.”
Guerra allowed only one run in 10.2 innings out of the bullpen during the final weeks of last season and the playoffs, dominating at times with a newly-effective curve which helped him strike out 13 of the 35 hitters he faced. The right-hander has made three relief appearances since joining LaGuaira.
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 for signed copies at www.WirzandAssociates.com.