By Bob Wirz
While everyone would like to be David Peralta, the 2012-13 American Association standout and current Arizona Diamondbacks star who this week added a Gold Glove to his sparkling major league resume, onetime Gary SouthShore RailCats relief ace Adam Quintana (pictured) and fellow pitcher Mike Kickham of the Kansas City T-Bones are keeping their professional careers very much alive by making November headlines.
Quintana, only one season removed from the RailCats, is on the brink of qualifying for baseball’s return to the Olympics as part of Mexico’s pitching staff, while Kickham is doing all he can with an outstanding start in the Mexican Pacific League this fall to earn another invitation to the Miami Marlins spring training camp.
Mexico and the United States both advanced this week to the Super Round of Olympic qualifying starting next week (November 11-17) in Tokyo.
“I have no idea what to expect,” Quintana told the Highland (CA) Community News prior to the start of the Premier 12 first round of Olympics qualifying in Guadalajara, “but I’m ready. It’ll be fun.”
The 27-year-old has been having a great amount of fun already over the last two seasons, starting with 12 saves, a 2-2 record and 2.01 earned run average for manager Greg Tagert in Gary where he also struck out 60 American Association hitters in 44.2 innings. It was on to Monclova, Mexico, where the right-hander worked nearly 120 innings including three rounds of playoffs which resulted in the Acereros winning the league championship and Quintana being selected to play for Team Mexico.
When he gets to Tokyo, at least one more American Association graduate will be trying to get to the Olympics with veteran southpaw Caleb Thielbar (St. Paul, 2011, 2016-17), now in the Atlanta Braves farm system, on the United States team. Thielbar spent almost all of ’19 with Detroit’s top farm club in Toledo, striking out 92 batters in 76.1 innings while posting a 3.30 ERA for 50 appearances.
Kickham Throws Blanks for 21 Innings
Kickham has not gotten into a regular-season major league game in five years, but the way the left-hander is pitching in the Mexican Pacific League this fall the 30-year-old would seem to at the very least deserve another look from the parent Miami Marlins during spring training.
Kickham, who the Marlins signed after a strong ’16 season with the Kansas City T-Bones (2.83 ERA for 14 starts), was well into his fourth start with Hermosillo before he gave up his first run. He had 21 scoreless innings before Mazatlan touched him for two runs in the sixth inning of what was a 12-2 blowout victory. The 6-foot-4 hurler has the league’s second best earned run average (0.82) along with a 3-0 record, and has allowed only 14 hits in his 22 innings.
The American Association had 10 of its former pitchers in the major leagues when the regular season ended although four of them have had their status changed in the last five weeks. Veteran reliever Brandon Kintzler of the Chicago Cubs (St. Paul and Winnipeg, the latter when it was still in the Northern League) became a free agent as did Chris Martin (Grand Prairie), who had a strong second half with Atlanta.
Tayler Scott was sent back to Triple-A by Baltimore although chances seem good he will be invited to the Orioles’ spring training camp, and another 2019 rookie, Parker Markel, was sold by Pittsburgh to the Los Angeles Angels, where he figures to bid for a spot in the bullpen. Both of the right-handers pitched for Sioux City, Scott in 2016 and Markel in ’18.
Markel could have quite a collection of uniforms from his travels last season, He was with three minor league teams and debuted in the majors with Seattle and the Pirates. More importantly, his fastball, which can hit 95-96, helped him strike out 75 minor league hitters in only 41.1 innings and 24 major leaguers in 22 frames.
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.