By Bob Wirz
It is not often when a player gets invited to a major league spring training camp right after spending a season in an Independent league unless he has some type of high profile history.
The Chicago Dogs‘ D. J. Snelten, who had four brief relief appearances (4.1 innings) with San Francisco early in ’18, is an exception.
Of course, Snelten is a left-hander, is only 27 and was a starting pitcher last season for the first time since the 2016 season so Tampa Bay, which signed the University of Minnesota hurler recently and has a reputation for finding pitching nuggets, is giving him an opportunity. He also may have benefited from social media efforts, which some players with the need for a career boost use these days to promote themselves.
The Rays already have shown they like Independent league pitchers with three right-handers figuring into their current staff. Trevor Richards and Nick Anderson both threw their very first professional pitches in the Frontier League and veteran reliever Chaz Roe pitched in the American Association (Laredo) earlier in his career.
The 6-foot-7, 260-pound Snelten limped onto the Dogs’ roster last spring after struggling the final three months of ’18 in the bullpen of Baltimore’s top farm club in Norfolk, VA (2-2, one save, 5.52 ERA). He became a solid starter, winning seven of 10 decisions with a 3.12 ERA and allowing only 99 hits in 118.1 innings. Chicago won five of Snelten’s six starts in August, with the Illinois native going at least seven innings each time, and never giving up more than one earned run.
“This week Snelten hit 97 mph during a bullpen session, and that video was posted on Twitter and spread by Rob Friedman, better known as @PitchingNinja,” Alex Pavlovic of NBCSportsBayArea.com wrote in late November.
It all sounds very positive for Snelten right now.
Veteran right-hander Tim Adleman also has received a non-roster invitation, but that is far from a surprise because of his extensive time with Cincinnati (’16-’17) followed by a season starting in Korea and his new team, Detroit, is in need of strengthening its mound staff.
Adleman, now 32, pitched at Lincoln and El Paso back in 2012 (0-2, 5.58 in 34 relief appearances), when he was trying to rebound from two struggling years after Baltimore drafted him.
The 6-foot-5 hurler has a 9-15, 4.97 career record in the majors with all but 10 of his 43 outings in starting roles.
Chicago’s Zambrano Calls Off His Comeback
Another Chicago Dogs pitcher, this one with a much higher profile, will not be in spring training and probably not anywhere on the mound this season.
Longtime major leaguer Carlos Zambrano told Chicago media in recent days his comeback is over and sometime in the future he hopes to be a manager.
“Maybe (managing) in the future,” the 38-year-old told The Chicago Sun-Times. “You’ve got to go through the experience. First, you go through the minor leagues and learn how to coach, which was basically what I did last year. I coached most of those kids (Dogs); I mentored them. I was like a teacher for them. I liked it.”
The onetime Chicago Cubs hurler was a three-time all-star and threw a no-hitter, finishing with a 132-91 major league record and hit a pitcher-impressive 24 home runs. He won four of five decisions with a 5.16 ERA for Butch Hobson’s second-year Dogs although he only started in five of his 35 appearances. He hit .158 in 41 at-bats, sometimes as a designated hitter, but did not homer.
Former Explorer Dykstra Joins Toronto System.
James Dykstra, a standout 9-4, 3.49 as a fulltime starter with Sioux City in ’18, is getting another opportunity with a major league organization. The 29-year-old, who has pitched as high as Triple-A (Texas, 2017), has signed a minor league agreement with Toronto after posting a 4-3, 3.38 ERA between two teams in the Independent Atlantic League last season and brief offseason work in Mexico.
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.