Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
LaRussa Weighs in on Peralta’s Big Year
Not much can beat praise from the boss, regardless of the profession.
Arizona outfielder David Peralta (Wichita 2012, Amarillo 2013), still only two years removed from playing for Amarillo and three from being with Wichita, has been praised by Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa, even as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chief Baseball Officer was telling Arizona Sports 98.7 FM he did not like to single out players.
“I think the fact that you give him (Peralta) the assignment to hit behind (All-Star first baseman) Goldy (Paul Goldschmidt) and he produces as just a clutch, clutch guy, and the way he does it (means a lot). He is as intense every minute of every game that he’s in, in every facet of it, as anybody I’ve ever seen. I put him with the best I’ve ever seen for not taking any pitch off, and I include guys like Paul Goldschmidt, so I think he deserves several gold stars.”
The 28-year-old left-handed hitter, who finished the season at .312-17-78, also drew praise from Sioux City right fielder Michael Lang, who is hoping his .343 season with 45 stolen bases and a strong arm will get him another chance in a major league organization.
“You never know,” Lang told The Hudson Reporter of Hoboken, N.J. “David Peralta played four years (two, in reality) in our league, then got his shot (in the big leagues). I just hope something happens. But this season went so well with the team and individually that I would have to come back. There’s no way I can’t play again. I actually thought about what I was going to do, to see where I was mentally and physically and now I know I’m coming back at least for one more year.”
Nine-Year Extension for Steve Montgomery Among Building Blocks in Sioux City
When Sioux City broke American Association records for most regular-season victories and highest winning percentage, then dispatched the other league powerhouse (St. Paul) in the opening round of the playoffs it was difficult to imagine anyone but the Explorers taking home the league championship.
Laredo’s Lemurs spoiled that party, but it has not slowed down the Explorers and the Iowa city from taking other steps in an attempt to cement the team’s new found success in a community where second-division finishes and slipping attendance had been the norm even before the American Association was formed in 2006.
The city council issued two proclamations paying tribute to the Explorers for their unprecedented success this season and applauding second-year manager Steve Montgomery for being Manager of the Year in the 13-team league.
Then the Explorers took a rare–if not unprecedented–step in awarding the 41-year-old Montgomery a nine-year contract extension.
“Steve has done a tremendous job on the field and in our community from the day he was hired (December 18, 2013),’’ owner John Roost told the Sioux City Journal. “The future of X’s baseball is as bright as ever, knowing Steve will continue to lead our franchise for another nine seasons.’’
The Explorers broke at least nine league records while cruising to the Central Division title, the newspaper pointed out, including 38 road wins (only 12 losses), 188 stolen bases and a 3.04 earned run average.
One would hope all of the excitement which has more than seven months to germinate will lead to sizeable crowds at Lewis & Clark Park when Montgomery, the onetime minor league closer and longtime Fargo pitching coach, introduces the 2016 team next May.
New Strikeout King Gets Opportunity With A’s
One player who is fresh from a record-breaking season in the American Association also has been rewarded. The Oakland Athletics purchased the contract of Brandon Mann from Fargo only weeks after the left-handed pitcher broke the league’s single-season strikeout record with 157 in 143.2 innings.
Major league organizations often pick up hurlers known for their strikeout ability, but the one difference here is that Mann is not a young phenom but rather a 31-year-old who started his professional career 13 years ago. He was 7-10 with a 4.07 ERA for the RedHawks, who suffered through a sub-.500 season.
While Luke Hochevar (Fort Worth) of Kansas City is in position to bring attention to the American Association during the major league postseason, two other right-handers who have gotten some time at baseball’s highest level the last two seasons have been promoted back to 40-man rosters. The Chicago White Sox elevated Junior Guerra (Wichita) to their protected list and Pittsburgh did the same with John Holdzkom (Amarillo and Sioux City).
Previously the chief spokesman for 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 as well as writing his blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com.