Atlantic League news, transactions July 30 – Aug. 5
A total of 12 players and seven Atlantic League clubs were involved in transactions last week. One player got picked up by a big league club. Seven players signed deals with Atlantic League clubs, four of whom are former major leaguers. Three players were released.
But before we get to the transactions, here are some newsworthy items in the Atlantic League over the past week….
Skeeters tab sky box, club level sponsorship: The expansion Sugar Land (Tex.) Skeeters announced a new five-year agreement with Insperity for naming rights sponsorship of the sky box and club level seating at Constellation Field. Insperity is a business advisor that provides various advice on how businesses can improve. The company, with its headquarters based in Houston, is also the naming rights sponsor of the Insperity Club at the Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park.
PITCHER/PLAYER OF THE MONTH: Sugar Land starter Jason Lane took home July’s Pitcher of the Month honors while Southern Maryland’s Brian Barton earned Player of the Month honors. Lane struck out a combined 27 batters and walked just seven in 36.1 innings of work. He allowed a total of six earned runs (1.49 ERA) and 17 hits over five starts. His best outing of the season came in his first start after the 2012 All-Star Break at home against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs when he tossed the first complete game, three-hit shutout in franchise history.
Barton batted an impressive .396 in 25 games with two homers and 13 RBIs in July. He had at least one hit in 23 of 25 games played (43 hits in 97 at-bats), ending the month on a six-game hitting streak.
BARTON’S NEW BOOK: Speaking of Barton, the Blue Crabs announced that the former St. Louis Cardinal is set to release his new book “Mindset” on Aug. 19 prior to the Blue Crabs’ game against the Sugar Land Skeeters at Regency Furniture Stadium. According to a press release, the book is about empowering people to change the world. Here’s a quote from Barton chatting about the premise of the book in the press release:
“Mindset is a book intended to positively impact the lives of people, young and old, by enhancing awareness of the effects of societal issues.”
According to the press release, Barton got his inspiration to write “Mindset” during his time in St. Louis worked with troubled youth.
Nowak sets club record: Since this is a Revolution-related blog, I thought it fair to include Chris Nowak’s record-setting achievement last week. The slugger became York’s all-time club leader in homers (43) with two homers in a 9-6 loss against Bridgeport on July 31. Nowak is also the club’s single-season home run leader, with the 25 he set last year. With 19 homers to this point in the season, Nowak is on pace to crush his single-season mark. The slugger is among the Atlantic League leaders in homers, sitting just two shy of Bridgeport’s Brock Peterson 21 dingers (through Monday) for the league lead.
Now on to the transactions….
BRIDGEPORT BLUEFISH: Released Edgardo Baez
The Bridgeport Bluefish had signed Baez in late June, coming to Park City after playing for Class AA Bowie and the Mexican League earlier this season. Now in his ninth pro season, Baez hit just .226 with one homer and three RBIs in 14 games for Bridgeport before being released.
CAMDEN RIVERSHARKS: Signed LHP James Houser
Houser joined Camden shortly after being released by the York Revolution, where he posted a 5.51 ERA in 31 relief appearances and two starts. Houser is a former major leaguer who had been a starter his entire career before coming to York. The 27-year-old reached the majors at the end of the 2010 season with the Miami (then Florida) Marlins and earned a spring training invite the following year with the Baltimore Orioles. However, he soon found out he needed open heart surgery to repair an enlarged aorta. He missed the entire 2011 season as a result of the surgery.
LANCASTER BARNSTORMERS: Signed INF Travis Denker, released SS Danny Gonzalez
Denker, who turned 27 on Sunday, appeared in 24 games for the San Francisco Giants in 2008, batting .243 with a homer and three RBIs. He comes to Lancaster after playing in 64 games at Class AA Chattanooga (Dodgers), where he batted .228 with four homers and 25 RBIs before being released July 27. In 2011, He split last year between Class A Rancho Cucamonga and Class AA Chattanooga, where he was teammates with former Barnstormers All-Star shortstop Jaime Pedroza. He is a career .251 hitter at the Class AAA level and .247 batter at Class AA. A 21-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003, Denker has bounced around between five different major league organizations over his now 10-year pro career.
Gonzalez came to the Barnstormers in a trade with York on July 26. The Puerto Rico native hit just .249 in 75 games for York and wound up batting .130 in nine games for the Barnstormers.
LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Traded OF James McOwen to Abilene (North American League) for LHP Adam Rowe
Rowe is a former Kansas City Royals prospect who had an impressive 2.75 ERA in 12 starts for the Prairie Dogs this season. Drafted by the Royals in the 20th round in 2004, Rowe reached High Class A High Desert in 2006 but posted a 5.10 ERA in 36 relief appearances. Since then, the Ohio native has spent his time playing in the independent North American League and American Association. It appears the left-hander first tried out being a starter in 2008 with the NAL’s Fargo-Moorhead squad. He also made 10 starts and 19 relief appearances for the American Association’s El Paso club in 2011 (Apparently Rowe was also the pitching coach at Abilene. To check a feature story from Abilene on his departure from the club, click here). He fired at least six innings and allowing three earned runs or fewer in all but two of his starts with Abilene this season.
McOwen, a sixth-round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners in 2007, made his indy ball debut with the Ducks this year. He batted .244 with four homers and 25 RBIs in 67 games for Long Island.
SOMERSET PATRIOTS: Philadelphia Phillies picked up UTL Jake Fox; Patriots signed INF Corey Smith
Fox, 30, joined the Patriots about this time last month. He came to Somerset less than a year removed from playing at the major league level with the Baltimore Orioles. He had 15 hits, four doubles, a triple, two homers and six RBIs in 27 games with the O’s in 2011. For his career, Fox has played 193 games at the big league level from 2007 to 2011, split between the Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics and the O’s. He started this season with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Class AAA Indianapolis club, where he batted .236 with two homers and 16 RBIs. In 21 games with the Patriots, the Indiana native hit .338 with seven homers, 20 RBIs, six doubles and a triple. The Phillies have assigned him to Class AAA Lehigh Valley. Fox is the fourth Patriots player to be signed by a major league organization this season, joining starting pitcher Mike MacDonald (Boston Red Sox), reliever Mike Solbach (Colorado Rockies), and outfielder Jonny Tucker (Washington Nationals).
Smith, 30, is a New Jersey native who comes to Somerset and the Atlantic League for the first time in his now 12-year-pro career. The 26th overall pick by the Cleveland Indians in 2000, Smith reached the Class AAA level with the Indians in 2004, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2008 and the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011. He is a career .223 hitters in 79 games at the Class AAA level. Earlier this season, Smith played in 65 games for Class AA Birmingham (White Sox), batting .286 with eight homers and 39 RBIs before being released June 21.
SOUTHERN MARYLAND BLUE CRABS: Signed RHP Daryl Thompson and RHP Kevin Hart, released LHP Bryan Dumesnil
An eighth-round draft choice of the Monteral Expos in 2003, Thompson has recorded 10 years in the affiliated minors, mostly spent with the Cincinnati Reds organization from 2006-2011. Thompson has a career 0-3 record in the majors with an 8.31 ERA in four games, three of them starts, in 2008 and one a relief appearance in 2011. In nine starts earlier this season for Class AAA Rochester, the 26-year-old right-hander had a 1-5 record and 4.71 ERA.
Hart, who has battled injuries since his last appearance in the majors in 2009, returns to the game after sitting out the 2011 season because of labrum surgery in 2010, when he pitched in five games for Class AAA Indianapolis (Pirates), posting a 6.75 ERA in four starts and one relief appearance. An 11th-round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 2004, the right-hander later signed with the Chicago Cubs in 2007 and made it to the big leagues that year. He has a career 6-11 record and 5.26 ERA in 47 games played in the majors from 2007 to 2009, split between the Cubs and Pirates.
Dumesnil accumulated a 3.72 ERA in 32 appearances for the Blue Crabs.
YORK REVOLUTION: Signed RHP R.J. Rodriguez
Rodriguez returns from pitching in the Mexican League for the Campeche Pirates, where he posted a 3.86 ERA in 11 appearances as the team’s set-up man. The right-hander had a 2.36 ERA and 11 saves in 26 games earlier this season for York.