When teams tell their fans players likely will wear major league uniforms it is a legitimate fact.
With the Miami Marlins adding Kansas City T-Bones pitcher Mike Kickham (pictured) to the list of players invited to their spring training camp no less than eight current American Association teams will have one or more of their former players at the major league level. More players and teams could get the good news in the next three to four weeks before pitchers and catchers report to training facilities in Florida and Arizona.
Wichita and Texas lead the way with three players apiece while Fargo, St. Paul, Sioux Falls, Sioux City, Winnipeg and the T-Bones each have one.
A total of 13 former American Association players are expected in major league camps as of now with 11 of them on 40-man rosters while southpaws Kickham and Brandon Mann (Texas) have non-roster invitations. The Wingnuts trio consists of pitchers Junior Guerra at Milwaukee and James Hoyt with defending World Series champion Houston and hard-hitting outfielder David Peralta at Arizona.
Bo Schultz a Pirate
It would not be a shock to see a fourth Grand Prairie player added to the major league invitation list when Pittsburgh reveals its non-roster invitees since the Pirates recently signed right-hander Bo Schultz, who worked in the Texas city most of 2011. Schultz, 32, is coming back after missing all of last season because of elbow surgery. He has pitched in 51 major league games with Arizona and Toronto.
Scheppers Heads to Japan
Veteran Tanner Scheppers has become the second American Association grad to leave the majors during the offseason in favor of a better financial deal overseas. Scheppers, who turned 31 today (Wednesday), will make $800,000 to pitch for the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan, The Dallas Morning News has reported.
Scheppers, who started his professional career with four starts at St. Paul in 2009, had his best major league season in ’13 when he won six of eight decisions and earned one save while posting a 1.88 earned run average in 76 appearances for the Texas Rangers, who drafted him out of Fresno State. He has struggled to stay healthy in recent years, pitching in only 15 major league games the last two seasons.
Right-hander Tim Adleman (Lincoln, El Paso) left his job with Cincinnati to pitch in Korea.
Bencomo, Incaviglia in the News
Elsewhere, right-hander Omar Bencomo, a starter at Wichita and Laredo for most of ’15, has been signed for a second stint in the Minnesota farm system. The Venezuelan was 5-7, 4.42 in his native country this winter after a so-so campaign with Miami’s top two minor league teams last summer.
And, longtime American Association manager Pete Incaviglia (Grand Prairie, Laredo) is obviously taking advantage of his knowledge of the league as he prepares to lead Sugar Land, TX of the Atlantic League this season. In three recent trades, Incaviglia has picked up nine American Association players, including first baseman Matt Chavez, who was Rookie of the Year and batting champion (.359) at Wichita two years ago and hit 33 home runs for the Wingnuts in the last two seasons combined.
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 www.WirzandAssociates.com.