By Bob Wirz
Matt Solter is the best type of American Association graduate.
Okay, why is this 25-year-old better than anyone else trying to make his way to the major leagues? Every graduate of the league, an RBI machine like Arizona’s David Peralta and sudden St. Louis bullpen star John Brebbia, is pride and joy. But Solter did not come to the league for a second chance. He signed with Gary when he was just turning 22 after being at Furman University but not getting drafted.
Now, a year after returning to the league with St. Paul he is back in an affiliated minor league system and is prospering in his first opportunity in Class AA. Cleveland signed the 6-foot-3 right-hander and three starts into his time in Akron he was leading the Eastern League with an 0.56 earned run average.
Solter threw seven one-hit shutout innings for the RubberDucks after they had been blown out by the same opponent the two previous games, only facing two batters over the minimum. He did not get the victory, but MiLB.com praised the New Bern, NC product saying “he effectively kept the ball low, recording 11 ground-ball outs”.
He got knocked around a bit in his most recent start, but still shows a 1-0 record, 2.57 ERA and has struck out 20 in 21 innings, indicating his 15 starts with the Saints (3-5, 4.73) paid off in the form of valuable experience.
Brebbia, Peralta Outstanding
John Brebbia and David Peralta could not make the American Association look much better since they both spent two years in the league before their contracts were picked up by the organization where they now star in the major leagues.
Brebbia had more than two full years in the lower levels of the New York Yankees chain, had a somewhat pedestrian season at Sioux Falls in 2014, then broke through with a brilliant 0.98 earned run average in 51 appearances for Laredo the next year (7-2, 19 saves and well over a strikeout per inning), much like he is doing for the National League Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals now.
Peralta tried his left arm with pitching briefly for St. Louis early on, but switched to the outfield with Wichita and Amarillo for his first true pro seasons in ’12 and ’13, hitting .332 and .352, respectively, with occasions of the powerful bat he now displays regularly with Arizona.
It is not an overstatement to call this duo statistical demons today, thanks to these opportunities.
Brebbia, who turns 29 at the end of this month, has allowed only one run in 14 outings this season, leading to a 0.55 earned run average. He has given up only six hits in his 16.1 innings with opponents swinging at a .109 pace from his right-handed offerings.
Peralta’s .317 average is seventh best in the National League, he is second with 13 doubles and the 31-year-old’s 20 RBI in 29 games for the Diamondbacks are in the top 15 as he follows up on his 30-home run, 87-RBI 2018.
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.