Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
The American Association’s most prominent alum involved in the postseason continues to be Washington ace Max Scherzer, but as talent developers and evaluators continue to search everywhere for the next major leaguer one of those on the radar seems to be lanky Drew Muren, the onetime outfielder at Sioux Falls (2014), Gary (’14) and Fargo. It was only one year ago when he hit .286 with 45 runs batted in in 92 games for the RedHawks.
Since he was about to turn 27, the clock was ticking and this product of Cal State Northridge did not seem to factor as a major leaguer.
Arizona signed Muren this past April after checking out his arm potential in a workout. His “best attribute, without question, is his plus arm strength,” Today’sKnuckleball.com analyzed recently. “He’ll touch 99 mph with regularity in certain outings, though inconsistent mechanics and a young, inexperienced approach on the mound sometimes conspire to cut his velocity down to 93-95 mph in other games.” He also has a very hard slider, and the combination “could really stand to push him quickly through Arizona’s minor league system.”
The Diamondbacks first sent Muren to advanced spring training to teach him the mechanics of pitching, but eventually got the 6-foot-6 hurler into 38 games ranging from Class A to AAA. The 4.39 ERA does not say a lot, but 61 strikeouts in 41 innings draw attention. His progress will be closely monitored.
Scherzer broke into the professional game as a 21-year-old at Fort Worth in ’07. Just out of the University of Missouri, he struck out 25 hitters and allowed only one earned run in 16 innings (0.56 ERA) for the Cats and was on his way to eventual major league stardom.
As MLB Postseason Progresses, Think About the Roles of These Former American Association Personalities
Baseball’s top player development bosses always heap praise on those from their farm system who help develop the stars we admire during the postseason each October.
One such figure this time around is youthful Tony Mansolino, who has been with Cleveland minor league teams for the last six years after his playing career ended when he was only 27. Mansolino guided Lake County (Eastlake, Ohio) as field manager this season.
The 34-year-old spent his last two years as a player in Independent Baseball, including the American Association’s Wichita Wingnuts and St. Paul Saints in 2009-10. The infielder had been drafted by Pittsburgh out of Vanderbilt University, but his lack of offensive production led him look elsewhere to improve his career.
Only one step from the majors, former catcher Shawn Wooten helped the Los Angeles Dodgers’ top prospects as he served as hitting coach for Oklahoma City. Wooten played very briefly with St. Paul in 2007 before returning to affiliated baseball.