A lot of news came out of the Atlantic League last week. Among the top highlight is seeing outfielder Lew Ford reached the majors with the O’s on Sunday after starting the year in Long Island. There were also quite a few milestones set.
As far as transactions go, there were a total of 15 players involved across seven teams in the league. One player got picked up by a big league club. Six players signed on with Atlantic League clubs, three of which are former major leaguers. Two trades were made. And six players were released.
First, here are the newsworthy items:
Ford returns to the bigs: The Baltimore Orioles called up outfielder Lew Ford to its big league roster on Sunday. (Check out a small feature from MLB.com on his call-up here, and a lengthy feature on Ford by Baltimore Sun reporter Everett Cook here). Although Ford went 0-for-3 at the plate with a walk Sunday, he made a nice defensive play in the second inning when he fielded a Yoenis Cespedes single and gunned him down at second base when Cespedes tried to stretch the hit into a double. Ford became the 13th former Duck to return to the big leagues after playing with Long Island. The Orioles picked up Ford from Long Island in mid-May after he put up a .333 batting average, four homers and 14 RBIs in 19 games. Ford, who turns 36 in two weeks, had been hitting well at Class AAA Norfolk (.331 average, 11 HRs, 40 RBIs in 62 games). He hit fifth and played left field Sunday for the O’s.
Patriots make history: With a 6-5 win over Sugar Land in the first game of a double-header on Tuesday, the Somerset Patriots earned the 1,000th win in franchise history. All 1,000 wins have come under the leadership of Somerset skipper Sparky Lyle.
Long-time Patriots player Jeff Nettles made history later in the week when he got his 1,000th Atlantic League hit July 27 at TD Bank Ballpark against Southern Maryland. Nettles, who is now in his ninth season in a Patriots uniform, recorded his first hit for Somerset on May 7, 2003.
Nelson reaches milestone: Ducks third baseman Bryant Nelson earned the 2,000th hit of his minor league career July 27 in Long Island’s 3-2 loss to the Bridgeport Bluefish. Nelson, who has also played for Atlantic League clubs Bridgeport, Camden, Lancaster and York, recorded the milestone hit in his 1,838th career game. For the season, the former major leaguer is carrying a .262 batting average with nine homers and 51 RBIs in 81 games for the Ducks. Nelson’s only action in the majors came in 2002, when he played in 25 games for the Boston Red Sox.
Now on the transactions…
BRIDGEPORT BLUEFISH: Signed OF Joey Gathright and RHP Brad Thompson, released INF Elliott Ayala and P Chris Hayes
Though Gathright has 452 games of big league experience under his belt, it was still a little surprising when the Cincinnati Reds picked him up off the Bridgeport roster on May 24. At the time, the 30-year-old was batting just .240 for the Bluefish with two homers, 13 RBIs, 20 runs scored and nine stolen bases in 23 games. The Reds had assigned Gathright to Class AAA Louisville, where he batted .299 with nine runs scored and 16 RBIs over the course of 40 games. The Reds released the left-handed batter on July 11.
Thompson, 30, is also a former big leaguer and will join the Bluefish for his Atlantic League debut. He comes to Bridgeport after playing earlier this season at Class AA New Britain (Twins), where he posted a 10.29 ERA in three relief appearances and one start. The Twins released the righty on June 1. He has a career 4.46 ERA in 201 games (32 starts) at the big league level from 2005 to 2010. The Las Vegas native made it back to the majors for the sixth time in his career in 2010, pitching in 16 games for the Kansas City Royals. He missed all of the 2011 season because of Tommy John surgery. A 16th-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2002,, Thompson made his major league debut for the Cards’ in 2005. One of his career highlights is helping the St. Louis Cardinals capture the World Series in 2006, when he posted a 3.34 ERA in 43 games that season.
The Bluefish made a couple roster moves to make room for Gathright and Thompson. The Bluefish released infielder Elliott Ayala and traded pitcher Chris Hayes to the Long Island Ducks to complete the Wynn Pelzer acquisition from May 24. Hayes made four starts and two relief appearances for Bridgeport this season, accumulating an 0-3 record and 9.15 ERA.
While getting rid of Hayes makes sense, the Ayala move is kind of a head-scratcher considering he had been batting an impressive .339 in 31 games this season and was also on a 10-game hitting streak at the time of his release, during which he was batting .486.
CAMDEN RIVERSHARKS: Signed UTL Delwyn Young, released C Scott Knazek
A former big leaguer with two different ballclubs, Young comes to the Atlantic League for the first time in his career after spending all of last season at Class AAA Lehigh Valley (Phillies), where he hit .244 with 11 homers and drove in 51 runs over 126 games. He also scored 51 times. The 30-year-old Los Angeles native last played in the bigs in 2010 when he saw action in 110 games for the Pirates. He has 344 games in the big leagues, spanning 2006-2010, with a career .258 average along with 17 home runs and 81 runs batted in. It’s unclear if he played anywhere earlier this year.
Knazek had returned to the Atlantic League for the first time since 2008 after spending the last three years between the independent Can-Am League and American Association. A former prospect of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Knazek last year batted .252 with six homers and 45 RBIs in 76 games for Pittsfield (Can-Am League). He had a .198 batting average with one homer and seven RBIs in 26 games for Camden this season.
LANCASTER BARNSTORMERS: Acquired SS Danny Gonzalez from York to complete previous trade
The Gonzalez deal completes a trade earlier this season when Lancaster sent infielder Joe Spiers to York for a player to be named later in early April. Gonzalez, 30, batted just .249 in 75 games for the Revs this season. It’s a dropoff from the .289 average the Puerto Rican native had with the Road Warriors in 2011. A former prospect of the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs, Gonzalez returns to a place where he played in part of the 2006 season and all of the 2007 and 2008 seasons. In 2006, he started off the year with Lancaster batting .319 in 69 games before getting picked up by the Chicago Cubs. He later returned to the Barnstormers at the end of that season and helped Lancaster capture its first Atlantic League championship. He had a .299 batting average in 110 games for the Barnstormers in 2008.
LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Signed INF Joash Brodin, traded INF Wilbert Ortiz to Wichita (American Association) for future considerations
Brodin, 25, is a Texas native who is just three years removed from playing at NCAA Division I College of Charleston. He has three years of pro experience in the independent Frontier League. In 2011, he had a .300 batting average with with 14 homers and 66 RBIs in 92 games for River City. The switch-hitting infielder began this season with the Frontier League’s London Rippers, where he batted .370 with 11 home runs, 54 RBI, 18 doubles and 10 stolen bases in 59 games. He earned the Frontier League All-Star Game MVP earlier this month by collecting two singles, a double and a homer in the game. Brodin’s services are available after the Rippers ceased operations last week for various reasons to become the fourth pro baseball team in London, Ontario to go belly up. (However, it should be noted the Frontier League turned the London Rippers into their version of the Road Warriors, complete with the same logo used in the Atlantic League).
SOMERSET PATRIOTS: Washington Nationals signed OF Jonny Tucker, P Doug Arguello picked up by Brother Elephants (Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League)
Tucker had 76 hits, 11 doubles, a triple, two home runs, 29 RBI, and 16 stolen bases in 82 games this season for the Patriots. The Nationals assigned Tucker the 29-year-old outfielder to Class AA Harrisburg, where he played 75 games last season. He is the third Patriots player to be signed by a major league club this year, joining right-handed pitchers Mike MacDonald (Boston Red Sox) and Mike Solbach (Colorado Rockies). All three players were picked up in the month of July.
Arguello went 5-4 with a 3.36 ERA in 93.2 innings of work for Somerset (16 starts, one relief appearance). He had a team-high 74 strikeouts and held opponents to a .197 batting average.
SOUTHERN MARYLAND BLUE CRABS: Signed P Joe Gannon
The Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year in 2008, Gannon returns to the Atlantic League for the seventh time in his career. The Blue Crabs brought Gannon on board to fill the void left by starter Dan Reichert, who the club recently placed on the disabled list. A former Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox prospect, the 37-year-old Gannon went 3-3 with a 4.72 ERA in five starts and 19 relief appearances for Southern Maryland in 2011.
YORK REVOLUTION: Signed LHP Ryan Feierabend, traded SS Danny Gonzalez to Lancaster, released LHP Victor Garate, RHP Omar Javier and LHP James Houser
The Revs were busy re-tooling their roster again this week. Of all the moves made, the biggest acquisition is the return of Feierabend. The lefty went 3-2 with a 3.24 ERA in seven starts earlier this season for York before the Cincinati Reds picked him up and assigned him to Class AAA Louisville. He struggled with Louisville, though, going 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in seven starts before Cincinnati cut ties with him on July 21. The former big leaguer made eight starts for the Seattle Mariners in the second half of the 2008 season but missed all of the 2009 season because of Tommy John surgery. In his comeback from surgery in 2010, Feierabend went 4-7 with a 5.30 ERA in 17 starts for the Mariners’ Class AAA Tacoma team. In 2011, Feierabend went 10-8 with a 5.39 ERA for the Phillies’ Class AAA Lehigh Valley team.
The Gonzalez deal completes a trade earlier this season when Lancaster sent infielder Joe Spiers to York for a player to be named later in early April. Gonzalez, 30, batted just .249 in 75 games for the Revs this season.
Garate came to York two weeks ago shortly after being released from the Brewers. He had a 7.78 ERA in 29 relief appearances for the Brewers’ Class AAA Nashville club. In his only appearance for York, Garate surrendered two runs – one earned on four hits in 1.2 innings against Bridgeport on July 23.
In nine starts and 13 relief appearances, Javier had a 1-6 record and 5.67 ERA. Making his return to the game this season after missing the 2011 season because of open heart surgery, Houser went 2-1 with a 5.51 ERA in two starts and 31 relief appearances for the Revs. The former major leaguer is expected to sign with the Camden Riversharks.Read More