He first came to York in 2012 and put up decent numbers, batting .284 with one homer and 14 RBIs in 35 games. Over the ensuing off-season, he cut some weight and came back to the Revs looking more trim and put up even better numbers. For weeks Mexican League ballclubs wanted him, but he refused to return their phone calls, in hopes he would instead get a minor league deal from a big league club. His patience proved right when the San Diego Padres came calling last May.
Johan Limonta has returned to York again. Revs’ manager Mark Mason announced his signing Friday. But had it not been for an injury towards the tail end of last season, there’s a chance he would still be in the Padres organization.
Along with Limonta, Mason has also signed catcher Alberto Espinosa and pitcher Wes Roemer, both of whom played independent ball last season and will be making their Atlantic League debuts with York.
Limonta: A Cuban defector who now lives in Tennessee in the off-season, Limonta batted just .255 in 72 games for San Antonio to go along with four homers, 19 RBIs and 30 runs scored. OK. I get those numbers aren’t eye-popping. And did say there’s a chance he would still be in the Padres’ system not that he should be.
Limonta, 30, went 2-for-10 in three games to start the month of August before being placed on the disabled list with a right ankle injury. He returned three weeks later and 3-for-13 in three games before being put back on the DL with an undisclosed injury. As a result, Limonta wasn’t able to compete in the Texas League playoffs for San Antonio, which finished with a 78-61 overall record to nab a wildcard spot.
But who knows where Limonta what would’ve happened had Limonta been able to finish out last season healthy? After all, he’s a career .309 hitter (171 for 554) at the Class AAA level, having played 149 combined games there in 2011 and 2012 with the Seattle Mariners’ Class AAA Tacoma club. For whatever reason the Mariners decided to let him go despite those good numbers, which led to Limonta arriving in York in 2012.
I don’t see a reason not to like the guy. He’s considered a good clubhouse player and is one of the nicest guys and most humble I’ve been around in the Revs clubhouse over the years. Plus, he can play first base and outfield. Oh, and there’s the incredible backstory of him escaping Cuba to come to the United States to play a sport he loves, and becoming best friends with the man who taught him to speak english, only to have that same man end up being killed just a few years ago.
So this proves to be a good pickup for Mason. Of the eight position players signed thus far, Limonta brings the biggest pop at the plate out of all of them. He’s a left-handed batter who can bat just about anywhere in the lineup. And he’s gonna be great in the clubhouse.
Roemer: Roemer is going into his eighth season as a pro but is just 27-years-old. On paper, the 6-foot right-hander seems like one of those pitchers who, if he can prove himself in the Atlantic League, a big league team might be willing to take a chance on given his age. A part of that is also because he’s a former first-round draft pick, originally being taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007 out of Cal State Fullerton. Sure, he didn’t pan out in 18 combined games (16 starts) at Class AAA Reno (2-7, 6.19 ERA), but he does have a career 3.87 ERA in 77 games (53) starts at the Class AA level. And if he pitches well in the Atlantic League, maybe a major league club would come along with thinking of ‘Well, it didn’t work with the D’Backs, but maybe he could do better in our system.’
The Los Angeles Dodgers did just the thing in 2012, picking him up out of the independent American Association and converting Reomer to a reliever at Class AA Chattanooga, where Roemer went 4-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 23 relief appearances, striking out 46 and walking 17. For whatever reason, the Dodgers didn’t bring him back in 2013 and Roemer returned to the American Association. He didn’t exactly have a great season in 2013, though, going 4-5 with a 6.88 ERA in nine starts with St. Paul (American Association) and 3-3 with a 4.63 ERA in nine starts with New Jersey (Can-Am League).
It’s unclear if Mason wants to use Roemer as a starter or reliever.
Espinosa: Espinosa, 27, will likely serve as a backup catcher behind Salvador Paniagua. The Florida native comes to York having spent the last three seasons in the independent American Association, where he holds a career .263 average. A right-handed batter, Espinosa was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 15th round in 2008. He collected a .244 average in 113 combined games with the Royals’ rookie ball club. Click on the video above to check out a three-minute interview with Espinosa when he was in Amarillo.
York now has 14 players under contract for the 2014 season – eight position players and six pitchers.
Other Atlantic League news:
Skeeters: Sugar Land on Thursday announced the signing of outfielder Steve Moss, right-handed pitcher David Pauley and former major league infielder/outfielder Rusty Ryal. Click here for more info on the signings. Sugar Land now has nine players under contract (although the link to its latest roster only includes three, for some reason).
Ducks: Long Island this week announced the signings of right-handed pitchers Shaun Garceau (former Revs’ pitcher) and Jared and Josh Lansford. Click here for more info on the signings. The Ducks now have 14 players under contract.
Riversharks: Camden this week announced the signings of right-handed pitchers Scott Gorgen, James Simmons and Brett Cammons, along with catcher Mike Albaladejo and infielder Wilson Batista (traded from York to Camden in exchange for infielder Wilson Valdez). The ‘Sharks now have 11 players under contract.
Blue Crabs: Southern Maryland has signed left-handed pitchers Charlie Manning and Jake Brown, right-handed pitcher Eric Massingham, infielder Jesus Merchan and outfielders Brian Barton and Cyle Hankerd. Click here for more info. The Crabs now have 15 players signed.Read More