By Bob Wirz
Aaron Wilkerson has been on the brink of becoming a fixture in the major leagues for the last three years since Boston used him in a trade with Milwaukee and he plowed through the Southern League (11-4, 3.16 at Biloxi) to earn his brief first trip into the National League.
(Photo Credit: Milwaukee Brewers)
It remains to be seen whether this will be the onetime American Association hurler’s time to stick, but the soon-to-be 30-year-old (May 24) made quite a splash in his 2019 major league debut Wednesday when he came out of the bullpen to hold St. Louis to one run in four innings and collected his first hit at baseball’s top level, a two-run homer one inning after entering the game.
“It must be something in the water, I don’t know,” Wilkerson mused to MLB.com, in reference to recent hitting contributions from the Brewers’ mound staff. “I try to take my hitting serious, but sometimes it’s tough to work on hitting when your priority is pitching.” Later, showing more of his sense of humor, the 2013-14 Grand Prairie righty, said “I’m pretty sure my eyes were closed.”
Wilkerson has been sidelined by injury in various ways since pitching at Cumberland University (Lebanon, TN) clear back in 2011. He missed most of two years after undergoing Tommy John surgery before breaking into the pro game in an Independent league (Frontier League), and one year ago was competing for a spot in Milwaukee’s rotation late in spring training when he injured his non-throwing shoulder while swinging a bat. The Brewers called him up four times last season, but he only got into three games, allowing 10 earned runs in nine innings.
He started strong this season at Triple-A San Antonio, going 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 11.1 innings in two starts, the most recent last Friday when he only allowed two hits and a walk in 6.1 scoreless innings.
Perhaps this is his time to show a 54-26 minor league record had greater meaning.
Nine in Majors, Another 31 in Minors
When Aaron Wilkerson re-joined the Milwaukee Brewers this week the American Association count of active major leaguers moved up to nine, but what fans of the league also should relish is the fact another 31 of its former players continue as part of the affiliated minors and eight of those are in Triple-A, the last step before the big-time.
Most of the others are in Class AA.
The complete list with the major league organization and previous stops in the American Association. Those in Triple-A are in bold face:
Pitchers (22)–NR Tyler Alexander, Oakland (Fargo-Moorhead); Jason Creasy, Atlanta (St. Paul); Carlos Diaz, Cincinnati (Kansas City, Gary); *Kevin Folman, Chicago-AL (Sioux Falls); Taylor Grover, Baltimore (Chicago); Tim Hardy, New York-AL (Kansas City, DNP); NR-David Holman, Colorado (Kansas City); NR *James Hoyt, Cleveland (Wichita); Zach Jones, New York-NL (St. Paul); NR Mike Kickham, Miami (Kansas City); Parker Markel, Seattle (Sioux City); Tyler Matzek, Arizona (Texas); Kevin McCanna, Arizona (Sioux City); Ian McKinney, Seattle (Sioux City); Trey McNutt, Oakland (Fargo-Moorhead); Evan Mitchell, Cleveland (St. Paul); James Needy, Miami (Sioux City); Connor Overton, San Francisco (Sioux City); Zach Prendergast, St. Louis (Fargo-Moorhead); NR Tayler Scott, Seattle (Sioux City); *Matt Solter, Cleveland (Gary, St. Paul); Caleb Thielbar, Detroit (St. Paul).
Position Players (9)–OF Keith Curcio, Boston (Kansas City); INF Taylor Featherston, Kansas City (Kansas City); INF *Ryan Fitzgerald, Boston (Gary); OF *Blake Gailen, Los Angeles-NL (Lincoln, Wichita); #1B John Nogowski, St. Louis (Sioux City); cC Justin O’Conner, Chicago-AL (St. Paul); OF David Popkins, Los Angeles-NL (Sioux City); C Dashenko Ricardo, Tampa Bay (Lincoln); OF Dillon Thomas, Milwaukee (Texas).
*-Played first professional game in an Independent league
c-Is serving a 50-game suspension
NR-Was non-roster invitee to major league spring training camp
Court Has a New Home
Former Sioux City standout Ryan Court, who had a terrific two-year run with the Chicago Cubs in spring training without getting into a single regular-season game, is back in an Independent league. The shortstop is in training camp with the Sugar Land (TX) Skeeters of the Atlantic League which opens play next week.
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.