By Bob Wirz
The Kansas City T-Bones had a remarkable 2018 highlighted by winning the American Association championship and challenging the best season any team could imagine in selling players to major league organizations. The new year is starting off just fine, thank you, with another of the team’s former pitchers getting a belated fulltime invitation to major league spring training.
David Holman, who used a solid 2016 campaign as a combination starter-reliever for the T-Bones to springboard to a higher level of competition when he got a second opportunity with a major league organization, not only re-signed with the Colorado Rockies, but was issued a non-roster invitation to the parent club’s spring training camp in Arizona.
A hulking 6-foot-6, the 28-year-old right-hander only received the major league invite February 23 so he has not yet appeared in any Cactus League exhibitions. Holman, a rarity because he was drafted three times, signed with the Rockies after posting a 4-5 record and 4.37 earned run average for Kansas City with 11 of his 23 appearances in starting roles. The team sent him to Double-A (Hartford) for ’17 even though he had not pitched above Class A in four seasons during a previous stint in the Seattle farm system. Then it was on to Triple-A Albuquerque last season where Holman again was both a starter and reliever, going 5-5 with a 5.25 ERA in the light air of New Mexico which often inflates pitching statistics.
Holman is the second former T-Bones player and the 16th with American Association experience fulltime in a major league spring training camp. Lefty Mike Kickham, who also was with Kansas City for much of the ’16 season, is a non-roster invitee with Miami.
McCanna Gets a Save for D-Backs
The number of onetime American Association players who have spent at least one day in a major league camp already in this young exhibition season has jumped to 24 with another eight players brought up from the minor league camps for brief exposure. Five of them have appeared in a game.
Top bragging rights among this group go to onetime Sioux City right-hander Kevin McCanna, who picked up a save in an inning of work for Arizona in which he did not allow any hits while walking two and striking out a similar number. McCanna, who only turned 25 on February 1, has not yet pitched higher than Class A in affiliated play. He is out of Rice University, and was with the Explorers two years ago.
Veteran lefty Caleb Thielbar, who is trying to get back to the majors after another stint in St. Paul, and Sioux City righty Eric Karch pitched one third of an inning for Detroit and Minnesota, respectively. Danny Reynolds (Laredo) worked a scoreless inning (one hit) for Milwaukee. Outfielder Keith Curcio (Kansas City) appeared briefly with Boston without getting to bat.
Pitchers Tim Adleman (Lincoln and El Paso) and Carlos Diaz (Gary and Kansas City) have worn Cincinnati major league uniforms and hurler Parker Markel (Sioux City) was with Seattle briefly without getting into a game.
Court Is at It Again
Versatile infielder Ryan Court, who did everything one could ask last spring even though he was not rewarded with an Opening Day spot with the Chicago Cubs, is back at it in the early exhibition season. The onetime Sioux City shortstop has played that position as well as first and third base for the Cubs while sharing the team lead in appearances. In his five games, Court has gone 3-for-10 with a double, two runs, two walks and an RBI. He hit .360 (18-for-50) last spring.
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.