Caleb Thielbar‘s second stint with the St. Paul Saints has the potential of duplicating his first time around with the American Association team when the southpaw reliever got the equivalent of two full seasons in a major league bullpen.
Now at a prime age of 29 and only four months removed from his most recent stint in St. Paul, the Minnesota native has been given a non-roster invitation to Miami’s major league spring training camp with the Marlins clearly looking for left-handed depth for their bullpen.
Thielbar was included in the Marlins’ cast of non-roster players revealed this week along with two other lefties with major league experience in Kyle Lobstein and Kelvin Marte.
A South Dakota State product, Thielbar first worked under Saints manager George Tsamis in 2011 after two years in the Milwaukee farm system in which he did not advance above Class A. He struck out 62 American Association hitters in 49.2 innings (3-3, 2.54) and two years later was ready to work in the Minnesota Twins bullpen. That he did, allowing only 80 hits in 98.2 innings (5-3, 2.74) from 2013 until part way through the ’15 season. He stumbled for a time in both the Minnesota and San Diego farm systems before returning to the Saints last season to tune up with a 5-2 campaign and four saves plus a 2.53 earned run average in 42 appearances.
St. Paul has seen 21 of its players reach the major leagues since the team started in 1993, and Thielbar may do it a second time.
Keeping Up With the Winter Leagues
Recent American Association players are continuing to log a lot of innings in winter leagues.
Pitchers doing well include onetime Lincoln right-hander Angel Castro, a free agent, who leads the Dominican Republic league in strikeouts with 39 in 53 innings. He is 3-5, 3.91 after 11 starts. Miami farmhand Patrick Johnson, who was Pitcher of the Year at Sioux City in 2015, is 2-0, 2.63 while seeing both starting and relief duty in the same league. Nestor Molina (Joplin), now in the San Francisco farm system, is 5-3, 2.70 as a starter in Venezula, and Kansas City’s Luke Irvine is 1-1, 2.83 in that league.
Mark Hamburger (St. Paul) leads the Australian League in both innings (42.2) and strikeouts (56) and shares first with four wins (4-0). Tyler Herron (Fargo-Moorhead) has six saves in Puerto Rico. He also has made some starts.
Among position players, Laredo corner infielder Balbino Fuenmayor, signed recently by Atlanta, is having a strong season in Venezula. He is hitting .342, his nine homers share fourth place and he is fourth with 37 RBI. Third baseman C. J. Retherford (Fargo-Moorhead) shares the Mexican League lead with 26 doubles, and has 13 homers (tied for third) while driving in 44 runs (sixth) and hitting .296 in 66 contests. Lincoln catcher Jose Gil is hitting .304 in Venezula and utilityman Brian Burgamy (St. Paul) is hitting .276 with six homers.
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 his book, “The Passion of Baseball”, was introduced in October.