2012 recap: Atlantic League players signed by MLB clubs
A total of 31 players were picked up by major league clubs out of the Atlantic League this season. Nearly half (15) of those were pitchers, nine were infielders and seven were outfielders. Lancaster led the pack of Atlantic League clubs with the most players earning contrats (7), while Bridgeport and Camden each had five. Sugar Land and Somerset followed with four a piece and York had three. Southern Maryland was the only Atlantic League club this season to not have a player earn a contract from a big league team.
RHP Dan Stange, San Diego Padres (Class AA San Antonio –> Class AAA Tucson)
A former big leaguer with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010, Stange came to the Atlantic League for the first time in his big league. The 26-year-old got cut by the Arizona Diamondbacks at the start of the year after giving up eight runs (seven) earned in three appearances (23.62 ERA). He then joined the Bluefish and allowed just one earned run and three hits in three relief appearances before the Padres signed him in early May. He went on to pitch well enough at San Antonio to earn a promotion to Class AAA Tucson. However, the Padres sent him back down to San Antonio after he threw two scoreless appearances (1.1 innings) at Tucson. He finished the year with a 3-6 record and 3.35 ERA 46 appearances at San Antonio.
OF Joey Gathright Cincinnati Reds (Class AAA Louisville)
Although 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. Gathright then returned to the Bluefish and finished the year with a .242 average, two homers, 22 RBIs and 46 runs scored.A week after the Atlantic League regular season wrapped, Minor League Baseball announced a 50-game suspension for Gathright for testing positive for amphetamine, a performance-enhancing drug. The test stemmed from Gathright’s time playing for Louisville.
OF Collin DeLome, Atlanta Braves (Class AAA Gwinnett)
DeLome He started the year playing in 10 games for the Houston Astros’ Class AAA Oklahoma City club before coming to Bridgeport. He played in 23 games for the ‘Fish, batting an impressive .368 with five homers, 22 RBIs, 22 runs scored and five stolen bases. DeLome played in six games at Gwinnett, batting .125 with a double and four runs scored, before injuring his knee on a sacrifice bunt and leaving the game. He soon underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
LHP Mike Tarsi, Atlanta Braves (Class AA Mississippi)
Tarsi joined Bridgeport after being cut by the Minnesota Twins in March. He appeared in 13 games (two starts) for the Bluefish in 2012, posting a 1-0 record with a 2.08 ERA. He struck out 25 batters and only allowed six walks over the course of 34.2 innings pitched. The 26-year-old went on to post a 2-0 record and 1.89 ERA in 14 appearances at Mississippi. He also gained Internet fame when video of him starting a benches-clearing fisticuffs brawl in a game with Mississipii went viral. One of many players who earned suspensions as a result of the scuffle, Tarsi got tagged for three games.
1B Brock Peterson, St. Louis Cardinals (Class AAA Memphis)
After batting just .272 with 11 homers and 31 RBIs last season with the Bluefish, Peterson emerged as one of the premier hitters in the Atlantic League in 2012. The 28-year-old left leading the league with 21 homers and a .563 slugging percentage, ranking second with 68 RBI, third with 46 extra-base hits, and fourth with 62 runs scored and 192 total bases. He was was also named the Player of the Month in June. The Washington native went on to hit .250 with five homers, 16 RBIs and 10 runs scored in 21 games for Memphis.
INF Felix Pie, Atlanta Braves (Class AAA Gwinnett)
Less than a year removed from playing in 85 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 2011, Pie began his Atlantic League career with a seven-game hitting streak and was leading Camden in homers (3) and was second in doubles (12) and had a .353 batting average in 13 games when the Braves picked him up. He went on to put a .285 average with six homers and 51 RBIs in in 96 games at Gwinnett.
OF Billy Rice, Chicago White Sox (Class A Kannapolis –> High Class A Winston-Salem)
Rice, 23, came to Camden just a few years removed from playing at the collegiate level for Division I University of Maryland. A former Phillies’ prospect, Rice played in 17 games for the ‘Sharks, hitting .300 with three RBIs and 11 runs scored. He was also tied for the league lead in triples (3). He played well enough at Kannapolis – batting .293 in 60 games – that the White Sox promoted him to High Class A Winston-Salem, where he went 2-for-13 (.154) in four games.
RHP Jason Bergmann, Colorado Rockies (Class AAA Colorado Springs)
Just two years removed from pitching for the Washington Nationals, Bergmann pitched in 22 games for the ‘Sharks and recorded a 0.81 ERA. He struck out 33 batters in 22.1 innings while only walking ten. Opponents were hitting just .145 against him. The 31-year-old right-hander then moved on to appear in 28 games out of the bullpen for Colorado Springs, where he collected a 3-3 record and 6.97 ERA over 40 innings.
INF Marquez Smith, Boston Red Sox (Class AA Portland)
The 27-year-old Smith spent the first five years of his pro career in the Chicago Cubs’ minor leagues before coming to Camden. Smith played in 23 games for the Riversharks and was leading the team in batting average (.363) before he was signed. In addition, he hit three homeruns and had 20 RBIs. He hit a grand slam in his final at bat as a Rivershark. Smith put up a .293 average with eight homers, 37 RBIs and 43 runs scored in 71 games at Portland.
RHP Ricky Brooks, Colorado Rockies (Class AAA Colorado Springs)
A 2012 Atlantic League All-Star, Brooks went 6-1 with a 2.44 ERA while recording 23 strike outs in 51.2 innings pitched for Camden before being signed by the Rockies. Joining former Camden teammate Jason Bergmann at Colorado Springs, Brooks made four starts and 10 relief appearances for the Sky Sox, going 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA.
LHP Rich Rundles, Baltimore Orioles (Class AAA Norfolk)
Rundles, 31, was 2-1 with a 3.02 ERA in eight starts for the Barnstormers. In his 47.2 innings, he allowed 40 hits and 11 walks while striking out 40. A former big leaguer with the Cleveland Indians, Rundles went 1-0 with a 2.03 ERA in one start and four relief appearances for Norfolk before sustaining an ankle injury in a game in late June.
INF Jesus Merchan, San Diego Padres (Class AAA Tucson)
Merchan was batting .391 at the time of his departure from Lancaster. He had hit safely in 13 straight starts from May 6-22 and was batting .500 as late as May 20. The 31-year-old baseball vet went on to lead Tucson with an impressive .366 average in 45 games. The Padres marked the ninth major league organization Merchan has played for in his 13-year pro career.
RHP Jason Urquidez, Boston Red Sox (Class AA Portland)
Urquidez, 29, came to the Atlantic League for the first time in his now seven-year career In 15 appearances for Lancaster, the right-hander posted a 2-0 record and 2.30 ERA. He struck out 14 and walked eight in 15.2 innings of work. In two starts and 15 relief appearances at Portland, the right-hander went 4-2 with a 2.85 ERA over 47.1 innings.
3B Terry Tiffee, Atlanta Braves (Class AAA Gwinnett)
Tiffee, 33, was batting .297 for the Barnstormers at the time of his signing with the Braves. He was tied for fifth in the Atlantic League in home runs and stood alone in fifth in RBI. On May 30, the former big leaguer became only the second player in franchise history to belt three home runs in one game when he connected on each of his first three at-bats against Somerset. He hit .299 with two homers and 21 RBIs in 34 games at Class AAA Gwinnett.
LHP Les Walrond, Toronto Blue Jays (Class AA New Hampshire)
Walrond, 35, was 3-1 with a 3.33 ERA for the Barnstormers in 21 appearances. In 24 1/3 innings, the left-handed specialist allowed only 15 hits and nine earned runs while walking 11 and striking out 24. Left-handed batters were only batting .107 (3-28) against the former major leaguer. Walrond appeared in three games for New Hampshire, posting a 2.25 ERA.
SS Jaime Pedroza, Atlanta Braves (Class AA Mississippi)
Pedroza, 26, left the Atlantic League ranking among leaders in several offensive categories. He was eighth in the league in batting (.310), second in home runs (14), tied for fourth in RBI (50), fifth in on base percentage (.398) and second in slugging percentage (.565). The former long-time Dodgers’ prospect had a disappointing .193 average in 35 games for the M-Braves.
LHP Horacio Ramirez, Chicago Cubs (Class AAA Des Moines)
Ramirez, 33, was 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA for the Barnstormers in six relief outings and six starts since joining the team in June. In 36.2 innings, he allowed 37 hits while walking six and striking out 22. The ex-major leaguer made three starts for Des Moines, going 0-1 with a 4.58 ERA over 17.2 innings.
LONG ISLAND DUCKS:
INF Ryan Garko, Tampa Bay Rays (Class AA Montgomery)
With 463 games of big league experience under his belt, it’s no surprise Garko was picked up just a month into the Atlantic League season. While with the Ducks, the former Major Leaguer posted a .450 batting average, good for second in the Atlantic League, along with four home runs (tied for third in the league), and 16 RBI (tied for second in the league). In addition, Garko led the league in on-base percentage (.535), was tied for second in hits (27), third in slugging percentage (.683) and tied for third in at-bats (41). Garko’s .297 average at Montgomery ranked second on the team. The 31-year-old also had eight homers, 40 RBIs and 33 runs scored in 61 games for the Biscuits.
OF Lew Ford, Baltimore Orioles (Class AAA Norfolk –> Baltimore Orioles)
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, 36, had been hitting well at Class AAA Norfolk (.331 average, 11 HRs, 40 RBIs in 62 games) when the Orioles called up him to their big league roster in late July. He played in 25 regular season games for Baltimore, hitting three homers and collecting four RBIs and scoring seven times with a .183 average over 71 plate appearances.
RHP Jon Meloan, New York Yankees (Class AA Trenton –> Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
While with the Ducks, the former Major Leaguer compiled a perfect 4-0 record with a team-best 0.99 ERA and 11 saves, good for second in the Atlantic League. The Kansas native struck out 36 batters while walking only eight and allowed just three earned runs in 27.1 innings pitched. Meloan made 20 appearances for Trenton, posting a 4.03 ERA over 22.1 innings of work. He pitched in one game at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, tossing two scoreless innings.
RHP Mike MacDonald, Boston Red Sox (Class AA Portland –> Class AAA Pawtucket)
MacDonald, 30, posted a 3-4 record and 3.60 ERA and less than one hit (67) per inning pitched (70) in his first season for the Patriots. Opponents hit .158 against him with runners in scoring position. The right-hander made nine starts and one relief appearance at Portland, going 3-2 with a 4.62 ERA in 50.2 innings. He also started one game at Pawtucket, surrending two runs on seven hits in four innings of work (4.50 ERA).
RHP Mike Solbach, Colorado Rockies (High Class A Modesto –> Class AA Tulsa)
Solbach had a 2.48 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 32.2 innings pitched in 21 games for Somerset. He was selected to the 2012 Atlantic League All-Star Game for the Freedom Division and pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts before the Rockies picked him up. The Virginia native tossed 7.2 scoreless innings at Modesto and 8.1 scoreless innings at Tulsa over a combined 17 relief appearances.
OF Jonny Tucker, Washington Nationals (Class AA Harrisburg)
Tucker had 76 hits, 11 doubles, a triple, two home runs, 29 RBI, and 16 stolen bases in 82 for the Patriots before being picked up by the Nats’. However, Tucker got released by Washington after hitting just .136 in 22 games for Harrisburg. He returned to Somerset and finished the year with a .259 average.
UTL Jake Fox, Philadelphia Phillies (Class AA Reading –> Class AAA Lehigh Valley)
Fox, 30, came to Somerset less than a year removed from playing at the major league level with the Baltimore Orioles. 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. Fox held a .203 average in 17 games at Reading but batted .290 in nine games at Lehigh Valley.
SUGAR LAND SKEETERS:
1B/3B Jimmy VanOstrand, Washington Nationals (Class AA Harrisburg)
VanOstrand became the first position player in Skeeters history to have his contract purchased by a big league club. In 27 games played for the Skeeters, VanOstrand held a batting average of .368 including 35 total hits hitting eight doubles, one triple and three home runs along with 20 RBI. The Canada native held an impressive .310 batting average in 80 games at Harrisburg, collecting 10 homers, 30 RBIs and 37 runs scored.
RHP Matt Wright, Philadelphia Phillies (Class AAA Lehigh Valley)
Wright led the Atlantic League in strikeouts (47) over 49 innings pitched through eight starts. He went 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA through the first month of the season, averaging close to nine strikeouts per nine innings and six strikeouts per start.The right-hander made four starts and three relief appearances at Lehigh Valley, going 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA over 23.1 innings of work.
OF Drew Locke, Houston Astros (Class AA Corpus Christi)
During his time in Sugar Land, Locke had a .285 batting average with 24 RBIs, 47 hits, six doubles, and four home runs in 40 games. The Boston College product played in 60 games for Corpus Christi, hitting eight homers to go along with 46 RBIs and .295 average.
INF Amadeo Zazueta, Toronto Blue Jays (High Class A Dunedin)
The Blue Jays basically signed Zazueta late in the year to provide some depth to their infield at Dunedin after a player there went down with an injury. The 26-year-old infielder began the year playing in 46 games for the Blue Jays’ Class AAA affiliate Tucson, but batted just .183 there before getting released and joining the Skeeters. He held a .214 batting average in 31 games for Sugar Land. In the six games Zazueta played at Dunedin, he went 9-for-21 at the plate (.429) with a homer and five RBIs.
LHP Ian Thomas, Atlanta Braves, Class A Rome
Thomas, 25, earned his first affiliated contract after putting together a 0.96 ERA in 9.1 innings of relief for York. He had spent his first three pro seasons with independent club Winnipeg (Northern League/American Association) before coming to York. In 26 relief appearances for Rome, the lefty went 5-0 with a 3.15 ERA, striking out 58 and walking 15 over 45.2 innings pitched.
LHP Ryan Feierabend, Cincinnati Reds, Class AAA Louisville
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, where he posted a 1-4 record and 6.75 ERA in seven starts before being released by the Reds. Feierabend then returned to York and finished the regular season with a 9-5 record and 2.70 ERA in 18 starts in the Atlantic League for the Revs.
RHP Shawn Hill, Toronto Blue Jays (Class AAA Las Vegas –> Toronto Blue Jays)
Hill, 31, came to York this season after undergoing vascular surgery in February to remove a rib under his right clavicle. For years he had been bothered by the problem, even undergoing Tommy John surgery to fix the pain and missing all of the 2011 season. It turned out his throwing arm wasn’t getting proper blood circulation, which the February surgery fixed.
The righty started off the year with York out of the bullpen, giving up a combined eight earned runs in two appearances. He then switched to his normal role as a starter and pitched a combined 27.2 scoreless innings, setting a new club record in the process. The Blue Jays signed Hill in June and he went on to put up a 9-2 record and 4.52 ERA at Class AAA Las Vegas. The Blue Jays called him up to the big league roster in the final week of the season.
Hill made the most of his one relief appearance. Facing the New York Yankees on Sept. 29, , Hill relieved Blue Jays’ starter Ricky Romero and went on to toss three scoreless innings, walking two to pick up his first major league win since 2010 – which came with Toronto.
Hill’s return to the Blue Jays in 2010 marks the sixth time in his career he reached the big leagues. Hill becomes the first pitcher to return to the majors and earn a win after playing for the Revs. He’s also the second former Rev to return to the majors after playing for York in the same year (Tike Redman did it in 2007). And he’s the second former Revs’ pitcher to get back to the big leagues this season (Justin Hampson with the New York Mets).