SOUTH AFRICAN PHILLIPS STARTS YEAR IN DOUBLE-A

SOUTH AFRICAN PHILLIPS STARTS YEAR IN DOUBLE-A

Phillips Could Become First South African Big-Leaguer

While somewhat difficult to believe, a player who grew up in South Africa has never played in the major leagues. Anthony Phillips, an everyday infielder with last season’s powerful St. Paul Saints, is trying to change that situation.

The 5-foot-9 switch-hitter is in the lineup daily for the Los Angeles Angels’ Double-A farm club, the Arkansas Travelers.  “I do miss it (South Africa) but I mean this is my dream,” the recently-turned 26-year-old told KATV in North Little Rock. “I’m trying to play and chase and see what happens so I can’t really complain about it.  I miss my family and all that but they know what I’m trying to do.”  After hitting .269 in 91 games for the Saints, he is recovering from a slow start in the Texas League by lifting his average for 14 games to .190 by going 5-for-18 (.278) in the last six contests.

Early Mound Work Good for Converted Outfielder

Drew Muren hit .311 and .286 the last two seasons at Gary and Fargo, respectively, (he also played briefly for Sioux Falls), but after toiling five seasons in the minors the outfielder decided to see if he could climb the baseball ladder better as a pitcher.

Arizona signed the 27-year-old in early March, and the Diamondbacks liked enough of what they saw in spring training to keep the right-hander in their farm system.  He threw a scoreless inning (one walk, one strikeout) for their top farm club, Reno, one week ago, then dropped down to what likely is a more realistic level for a new pitcher, the Class A California League.  He gave up a hit and fanned one batter in his initial inning for Visalia on Saturday.

Chisox Pick Up Holdzkom

The Chicago White Sox have picked up 2014 phenom John Holdzkom (Amarillo, Sioux City) after the loss of velocity seemed to cost him his job during spring training with Pittsburgh.

It would have been a shame if the right-hander, now 28, had not gotten another chance, especially after his older brother, Lincoln, died in an automobile accident during the offseason.  Lincoln, 33, was with Wichita in 2013.

John Holdzkom was signed to a Charlotte (Triple-A) contract although he is on the disabled list and has yet to see action.

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 own blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com.