Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
Four more former American Association players have had a day or more in major league uniforms recently lifting that count this spring to 10 in addition to the 18 who have trained daily at baseball’s highest level as 40-man roster players or non-roster invitees.
The latest group is made up of pitchers Caleb Thielbar (St. Paul 2011, 2016-17), Scott Kuzminsky (pictured, Wichita 2015) and Josh Tols (Kansas City 2015-16) and first baseman-outfielder John Nogowski (Sioux City 2017).
Thielbar, who is in the Detroit organization, is attempting to get back to the majors for the first time since 2015 while the other three do not have any experience at that level. Southpaw Thielbar has given up two runs in his only inning this spring. Kuzminsky is with Seattle while Nogowski is a St. Louis farmhand and was at Sioux City as recently as the first five weeks of last season. Tols only signed with Philadelphia recently.
Checking on Guerra, Schultz
While Aaron Wilkerson‘s (Grand Prairie 2013-14) bid to start the season with Milwaukee did not work out, Junior Guerra (Wichita 2011, 2013) continues to bid for a job in the starting rotation, most recently allowing three runs in 5.1 innings Tuesday. His spring ERA is at 3.15.
Others who have been sent back to the minor leagues include Sioux City pitchers Jose Flores (San Francisco), James Needy (Miami) and Tayler Scott (Texas) plus Cleburne catcher Shawn Zarraga (Los Angeles Dodgers).
Bo Schultz‘s pitching as he recovers from elbow surgery one year ago for his new organization (Pittsburgh) has been limited to minor league work but the non-roster right-hander remains positive. “My goal has been 12 months,” Schultz (Grand Prairie) told TheAthletic. “It’s a timeline that I felt was attainable and realistic if there are no setbacks. It’s been a long year of nothing, which is unfortunate, but it makes it all the more gratifying to be preparing for a new year.”
Court Stays in Cubs’ Mix
And how is spring phenom Ryan Court (Sioux City ’15) doing a week before the season starts?
The Chicago Tribune points out “infielders Mike Freeman, Ryan Court and outfielder Peter Bourjos–all on minor league deals–have played well enough for (manager Joe) Maddon to delay (final) decisions on them. All have outstanding stats for the spring with Court leading the entire team in games played (23) and stolen bases (5) entering Wednesday, tied for the team lead in runs (12) and hitting .366 (15-for-41) with a .455 on-base percentage. He also has four homers and seven RBI.
“Everybody is making it difficult,” Maddon told MLB.com. “It’s a combination of skill, guys who have done it before (which would favor Bourjos) and how they fit in. It’s really important to fit in here now, and they all fit.”
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.