By Bob Wirz
Let the fun begin.
By this time next week major league spring training camps will be open, and the presence of the American Association once again will be felt. The most visible part is the players, of course, and no less than 15 of those who have thrilled fans in the first 13 seasons since the re-birth of the league have official invitations from one of the 30 teams training in Arizona and Florida.
The number with ties to the American Association will get much larger when every team has filled out its contingent of non-roster players and still others are invited from minor league camps to suit up for one or more exhibition games. This does not even account for the coaches, instructors, broadcasters and an assortment of other front office positions in the camps.
Arizona outfielder David Peralta and non-roster Chicago Cubs infielder Ryan Court stand out as the only position players among the fortunate 15 while four of the pitchers, including Washington’s exceptional Max Scherzer, threw their very first professional pitch in the league.
Peralta’s position with the Diamondbacks is well cemented especially after career highs of 30 home runs and 87 runs batted in last year while Court is back for another try at cracking the Cubs’ roster. With many a less talented teams, Court, the former standout Sioux City shortstop, likely would have been in the majors last season since he displayed the talent by leading Joe Maddon’s team in appearances and going 18-for-50 (.360) with a .458 on-base percentage in spring training.
The entire list of players in the big-league camps so far along with both their National or American League team and the American Association affiliations follow:
John Brebbia, St. Louis (Sioux Falls and Laredo)
Ryan Bollinger (NR), San Diego (St. Paul and Winnipeg)
Ryan Court (NR), Chicago-NL (Sioux City)
Junior Guerra, Milwaukee (Wichita)
James Hoyt* (NR), Cleveland (Wichita)
Mike Kickham (NR), Miami (Kansas City)
Brandon Kintzler, Chicago-NL (St. Paul and Winnipeg)
Chris Martin*, Texas (Grand Prairie)
James Paxton*, New York-AL (Grand Prairie)
David Peralta, Arizona (Amarillo and Wichita)
Chaz Roe, Tampa Bay (Laredo)
Max Scherzer*, Washington (Fort Worth)
Bo Schultz (NR), Baltimore (Grand Prairie)
Tayler Scott (NR), Seattle (Sioux City)
Aaron Wilkerson*, Milwaukee (Grand Prairie)
*First professional game was in the American Association
NR-Non-roster invitee; all others on 40-man rosters
Adelman Set to Return to Reds Organization
Onetime American Association right-hander Tim Adleman is not among those in major league training camps fulltime, but it would seem a virtual certainty this 2012 hurler with Lincoln and El Paso will get some looks from Cincinnati.
The Reds are reported to have signed Adleman to a minor league contract one year after he left them for a more lucrative ($1.05 million) and certain opportunity in Korea. After leading Cincinnati in both innings (122.1) and strikeouts (108) in 2017, he signed with the Samsung Lions. Now 31, he had a 5.05 earned run average in 171 Korean Baseball Organization innings.
Since Cincinnati is believed to be improved from various offseason transactions, Adleman does not have a defined role for the new season but MLBTradeRumors said he “could find his way into the Cincinnati bullpen as a long man, and the organizational familiarity certainly may work in his favor.” He has a 9-15 record and 4.97 ERA in 43 career appearances (33 starts) with the Reds.
Former RedHawks Backstop Valerio Earns Honor
While Team Canada drew the attention prior to the Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament in Brazil since it had four players with American Association experience, it was longtime Fargo-Moorhead regular Charlie Valerio who came away with some individual glory in the competition.
Valerio, primarily a catcher although he sometimes plays corner infield positions, was named the best defensive player in the event as he helped his native Dominican Republic finish first among the four teams that qualified for this summer’s Pan Am championship in Lima, Peru. He has played all or part of the last four seasons with the RedHawks as well as spending time with Joplin in 2016.
Canada dropped its last two games of the event in extra innings, but had already qualified to move on which hopefully means third baseman Wes Darvill and pitchers Jared Mortensen, Dylan Rheault and Evan Rutckyj also will continue into the summertime competition.
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 at www.WirzandAssociates.com.