A total of six teams and 23 players were involved in transactions last week, including six former major leaguers. It marked the most players involved in transactions in a one-week span this season since April 15-21, when a season-high 44 players were involved in roster moves. Three Atlantic League players got picked up by big league organizations, and three others had their contracts purchased by teams in foreign leagues. Two trades were made as well. Before we get to the transactions, here are some newsworthy items related to the Atlantic League…
Loudon groundbreaking: Developers held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for what they hope will soon be the home of the Loudon Hounds. The name of the ballpark was also revealed. The Hounds are still conditionally approved by the Atlantic League, but league president Peter Kirk said during a phone conversation last week that the Hounds submitted paperwork recently to become an official league member. Kirk said a decision could be made on the Hounds potential membership into the league in the comings weeks. The Hounds are aiming to be ready to go for the 2014 season.
All-Star voting begins: Voting for the 2013 Atlantic League All-Star game in Southern Maryland has begun. Click here to vote for your favorite Freedom Division and Liberty Division players.
Roger Clemens visits York, Somerset: Former Cy Young award winner and former Sugar Land Skeeters’ pitcher Roger Clemens visited the east coast last week to watch his son, Koby, and the Skeeters play in York and Somerset. In case you missed it, here’s a story featured in The York Dispatch on Clemens’s visit and another story on Clemens from Courier News’ Somerset beat reporter Ryan Dunleavy.
Attendance down across Atlantic League: In case you missed it, here’s a column featured in Monday’s York Dispatch newspaper about the decline in attendance seen in the Atlantic League so far this season. Several reasons are discussed about how this has happened and what can be done to improve things going forward.
Now on to the transactions…
RHP Mike Colla
BRIDGEPORT BLUEFISH: Tampa Bay Rays sign RHP Mike Colla, RHP Ty’Relle Harris picked up CPBL (Taiwan), Bridgeport signed OF James Simmons, OF Victor Diaz and LHP Kelvin Villa, released INF Russ Mitchell, Matt Spencer, traded LHP Mickey Jannis to Lake Erie (Frontier League)
In his first season in the Atlantic League, Colla went 2-4 with a 3.83 ERA in nine starts, striking out 47 and walking 17 in 51.2 innings of work. Colla, 26, is just five years removed from playing college ball at the University of Arizona. The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Colla, a California native, the 14th round in 2008. Colla spent the entire 2011 and 2012 seasons with the Pirates’ Class AA Altoona affiliate, where he has a career 3.65 ERA in 79 games (33 starts). Colla reported to Class AA Montgomery. He is the first Bridgeport player signed by a major league club this season.
Harris, 26, made his Park City and Atlantic League debut during his fifth season of professional baseball. Just four years removed from playing college ball at the University of Tennessee, the righty was originally drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 2009 and spent 36 games with the Braves’ organization before getting traded to the Cubs in the 2010 season for Derrek Lee. Harris’s best year came in 2011 while with Class AA Tennessee, where the reliever had a 1-0 record with a 2.10 ERA in 34.1 innings pitched. Harris posted a 2.76 ERA in 10 relief appearances for Bridgeport, striking out 38 and walking 11 in 29.1 innings. Harris is the fifth Atlantic League player this season to get his contract purchased by a team from a foreign league.
Simmons returns to Bridgeport after hitting .289 with 13 homers, 45 RBIs, 47 runs scored and 12 stolen bases in 93 games for the ‘Fish last year.
Diaz is a former big leaguer who started the 2013 campaign splitting time with Mexico City and Laguna of the Mexican League. In 26 combined games in the Mexican League, he batted .304 with four homeruns, five doubles, 17 runs batted in and 18 runs scored. An Dominican Republic native who went to school in Illinois, Diaz makes his Atlantic League debut with Bridgeport after spending the 2012 season overseas in Japan. Diaz, 31, has 147 games of big league experience, last playing there in 2007 with the Texas Rangers. He is a career .277 hitter in 725 games at the Class AAA level.
Villa, 27, also began his 2013 campaign in the Mexican League with Laguna. In eight starts there, he went 2-2 with a 4.47 ERA in 44.1 innings pitched. His 2012 season was spent with Sugar Land, where the the lefty had a 4-8 record and 5.54 ERA in 28 games (11 starts). A former prospect of the Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Royals, Villa will play in the Atlantic League for the fourth-straight season in his now 10-year pro career..
Jannis, 25, made his Atlantic League debut with Bridgeport after posting a 2.53 ERA in 34 games (three starts) last season with Lake Erie. The California native is just three years removed from playing college ball at Cal State Bakersfield. He spent the first two years of his pro career in the Tampa Bay Rays’ organization, reaching Class High A Charlotte in 2011. In 10 relief appearances for Bridgeport, Jannis went 0-1 with a 7.56 ERA, striking out six and walking six in 16.2 innings of work. It’s unclear what Bridgeport acquired in the trade, but the Bluefish had acquired Jannis earlier this season from Lake Erie for a player to exchanged later, so maybe this current deal completes the old deal involving Jannis.
Mitchell played in just 16 games for Bridgeport, going 7-for-43 (.163) at the plate with no extra-base hits or RBIs and two runs scored. Spencer batted .235 with no homers, 10 doubles, one triple, 11 RBIs and 12 runs scored in 32 games for Bridgeport.
The ‘Fish now have 29 players under contract (outfielder Brian Anderson and pitchers Wardell Starling and Jordan Roberts are inactive and pitchers Keith Bilodeau and Adam Carr and outfielder Adam Greenberg are on the disabled list), including 13 former big leaguers and 13 players who are in their first seasons in the Atlantic League.
INF Paddy Matera
CAMDEN RIVERSHARKS: Cleveland Indians sign INF Paddy Matera, Camden signed INF D’Angelo Jimenez
Matera, 25, earned his first affiliated contract by getting signed by the Indians. Now in just his fourth pro season, Matera had played independent ball in the American Association, Can-Am Association and Atlantic League since coming out of Lynn University in 2009. A New Jersey native, Matera led the ‘Sharks in batting average (.304), home runs (six), runs scored (31) and doubles (13) and was second in hits (48) and plate appearances (158). The middle infielder also had 18 RBIs and 10 walks. He reported to Class High A Carolina. Matera is the third Camden player signed by a big league organization this year.
Jimenez, 35, is a former big leaguer who comes back to the Atlantic League for the second time in his now 19-year pro career. The Dominican Republic native has 641 games of big league experience split between seven teams from 1999 to 2007. He is a career .292 hitter in 848 games at the Class AAA level. The switch-hitter makes his Camden debut after playing in in 14 games earlier this season for Newark (Can-Am Association), where he batted .281 with a homer and 10 RBIs in 57 plate appearances. He last played in the Atlantic League when the Newark Bears were a member of the Atlantic League in 2009.
The ‘Sharks now have 27 players under contract (pitchers Mike Antonini and Mike McGuire are on the disabled list), including six former big leaguers.
INF Bill Hall
LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Signed INF Bill Hall and RHP Bob Zimmerman, released INF Gabe Suarez and LHP Royce Ring, traded INF Murray Watts to El Paso (American Association)
Hall, 33, is a former big leaguer who begins his first season on Long Island and in the Atlantic League. He is a veteran of 11 seasons at the Major League level, spending time with six teams (Brewers, Mariners, Red Sox, Astros, Giants and Orioles). His best season came in 2006 with the Brewers when he batted .270 with 35 home runs, 85 RBI, 101 runs and 39 doubles in 148 games. The Mississippi native began the 2013 season with Salt Lake (AAA, Angels) of the Pacific Coast league and compiled one homer, seven RBI and four runs in 21 games while batting just .164 before being released May 19.
Zimmermann, 31, returns for his third season in a Ducks uniform after making a team-high 27 starts in 2012 and posting a 4.32 ERA. He finished second in the league in strikeouts with 126 and fourth in the league with 179 innings pitched. The right-hander also made two starts in the playoffs and struck out 10 batters in eight and one-third innings pitched.
Watts, 25, mades his Atlantic League debut with the Ducks after playing in 16 games earlier this season with the Kansas City Royals’ Class High A Wilmington affiliate, where he posted a .172 batting average with three doubles, a triple and an RBI in 16 games. Watts went 16-for-63 (.254) at the plate in 16 games with Long Island.
Suarez held a .221 average in 86 plate appearances (29 games) for the Ducks. Ring, who signed with the Ducks two weeks ago, gave up three earned runs on nine hits over 3.1 innings (8.10 ERA, four relief appearances).
The Ducks now have 31 players under contract (infielder Ryan Strieby, outfielders Vladimir Guerrero, Ray Navarrette and Matt Fleishman and pitchers Matt Way and Josh Lansford are inactive), including 11 with major league experience.
OF Cory Aldridge
SOMERSET PATRIOTS: Signed LHP Ben Kozlowski and OF Cory Aldridge
Kozlowski, 32, is returning to the game after last playing professionally in 2009. A Florida native, Kozlowski saw two games in the majors in 2002 with the Texas Rangers but hasn’t been back since. His last full season came in 2008, when he posted a 4.74 ERA in 26 games (four starts) over in Japan for Hiroshima.
Aldridge spent time at the big league level with the Atlanta Braves in 2001 and the Los Angeles Angels in 2010. He comes to the Atlantic League for the first time in his now 16-year pro career after seeing action in the Mexican League earlier this season with Quintana Roo and Monclova, batting a combined .228 with three homers and 14 RBIs.
The Pats’ now have 30 players under contract (infielder Anderson Hernandez, outfielder Jeff Baisley and pitchers David Harden, Brad Thompson and Ryan Zamorsky are inactive while outfielder Joe Holden is on the disabled list), including 11 with experience at the big league level.
RHP Michael Nix
SUGAR LAND SKEETERS: Chicago White Sox signed RHP Michael Nix, Skeeters signed INF Jeff Dominguez, OF Reid Gorecki, INF Russ Mitchell and RHP Clint Everts
The right-hander went 4-10 with a 5.00 ERA in 31 games (16 starts) for a struggling Skeeters club in 2012 before enjoying a stellar 2013 season with the Sugar Land, which held a 33-13 record at the time of Nix’s departure. This year, Nix held opponents to three combined runs in his first seven games before giving up six runs on just four hits in six innings pitched in his last start Sunday against Somerset to take his first loss of the year. In eight total games (seven starts) for Sugar Land this season, Nix posted a 5-1 record and 1.81 ERA, striking out 40 and walking 15 in 44.2 innings. A former prospect of the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies, Nix will report to the White Sox Class AAA Charlotte affiliate. He is the fourth Skeeters player to get picked up by a major league team this season, which is tied with York for the most players signed by a big-league organization out of the Atlantic League.
Dominguez, 26, comes to the Atlantic League for the first time in his now 10-year pro career. A former prospect of the Seattle Mariners and Miami Marlins, Dominguez has 70 games of experience at the Class AAA level, where he owns a career .215 batting average. A native of Puerto Rico, Dominguez split last season between the Marlins’ Class AA Jacksonville and Class AAA New Orleans affiliates, hitting a combined .237 in 107 games.
Gorecki, 32, is a former major leaguer who comes back to the Atlantic League for the second-straight season, his first in Sugar Land. A New York native, Gorecki’s only time in the majors came in 31 games in 2009 with the Atlanta Braves. Last season, Gorecki hit .230 in 19 games with Camden and .281 in 85 games with Long Island.
Mitchell joins Sugar Land in the same week he was released by Bridgeport after playing in 16 games for the Bluefish, going 7-for-43 (.163) at the plate with no extra-base hits or RBIs and two runs scored. Mitchell saw 40 combined games of action at the major league level with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010 and 2011.
Everts, 28, is a Houston native who has 63 relief appearances at the Class AAA level, where he has a career 5-4 record 4.07 ERA. A fifth overall draft choice of the Montreal Expos in 2002, the right-hander makes his Atlantic League debut after splitting time earlier this season between the Toronto Blue Jays’ Class AA New Hampshire and Class AAA Buffalo affiliates, combining for a 8.05 ERA in 15 appearances before getting released May 18.
The Skeeters now have 28 players under contract (infielder Anthony Granato is inactive while outfielders Steve Moss and Fernando Perez and pitcher Gilbert De La Vara are on the disabled list), including 13 with time in the majors and 10 who are in their first seasons in the Atlantic League.
1B Brian Burgamy
YORK REVOLUTION: 1B Brian Burgamy signed by Campeche (Mexican League), RHP Nick Green signed by Yucatan (Mexican League)
Burgamy left the Revs with the team lead in batting average (.345) home runs (nine), runs scored (38), total bases (98), walks (32) and triples (three). He was also second on the team in hits (57) behind Andres Perez. Burgamy spent all of his first six years as a pro in the Philadelphia Phillies’ farm system before first coming to the Atlantic League in 2008, a season in which he also spent time in the New York Mets’ organization. He then played four straight seasons in Camden before joining York this year.
Green left the team after going 3-0 with a 3.79 ERA in nine starts, striking out 34 and walking 18. A Georgia native, Green was first drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 35th round in 2004. He later reached the Angels’ Class AAA Salt Lake affiliate in 2008 and posted an 8-8 record and 5.32 ERA in 28 starts there. He then spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons in the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization before coming to the Atlantic League in 2011. Green went 19-16 with a 3.81 ERA in 53 games (51 starts) for Southern Maryland in 2011 and 2012.
Burgamy and Green make up a total of five Atlantic League players this season who have been signed by teams from foreign leagues. The Revs now have 25 players under contract, including 10 with big league experience.
Previous Atlantic League news, transactions:
May 27-June 2
April 29-May 5