Revs sign ex-MLB outfielder Repko, bring back Penney, Korpi
The Revs announced the signing of former big league outfielder Jason Repko and the returns of relief pitchers Stephen Penney and Kris Regas on Friday.
With spring training set to begin in a month, the Revs now have a total of 17 players (including seven former big leaguers) signed for the 2013 season – eight position players and nine pitchers.
I chatted with Repko by phone for about 15 minutes. And I gotta say, I get the impression he’s going to be a really good clubhouse guy. He’s one of those rare people I’ve come across where I feel like running through a wall after we’re done talking. Plus, it looks like he’ll quickly become a fan favorite in York if he does anything like his previous ridiculous highlights in the outfield.
Anyway, Repko brings a reputation of being a solid outfielder as well. While the 32-year-old admits some of his many injuries have been unlucky, he also knows most are because of the ferocity he plays with in the outfield. (Seriously, check out this over-the-wall grand slam-robbing leaping catch, which apparently was a Sportscenter Top 10 play).
Just take his last injury. A partially separated acromioclavicular joint in his left shoulder came as a result of crashing into the Green Monster after tracking down a fly ball off the bat of New York Yankees’ Russel Martin last April 20 when Repko was in a Boston Red Sox uniform.
“Unfortunately I got a wrap (of being injured),” Repko said. “Some guys tell me ‘Hey man, won’t you tone it down (in the outfield)?.’ But I like to go all out and make plays for my pitchers. Maybe it’s cost me a lot of opportunities just as far as staying healthy. But if I think I’m gonna catch it, I’m gonna go for it.”
Repko comes to the Atlantic League for the first time in his career after racking up 360 games at the big league level since 2005.
“It’s disappointing when (big league) teams don’t wanna sign you for the first time (in your career),” Repko said. “But at the same time I’m really excited about coming to York and getting a chance to play on an everyday basis instead of being a bench player or playing sporadically like I’ve been doing the last few seasons.”
According to Revs’ baseball operations manager Andrew Ball, Repko has the same agent as former big league outfielder Bobby Kielty, who retired last season after a brief stint playing for the Revs. Repko also did his fair amount of research on the Atlantic League.
“I kept hearing good things about the league,” he said. “I called (Camden Riversharks’ infielder) Valentino Pascucci. That was another team I looked at a little bit because he offered me and my family to stay with him there. I talked to Reggie Abercrombie, who plays in the American Association. I just picked their brains to see how the change was and see what it was like (playing independent ball).”
A first round draft pick out of high school by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1999, Repko has played in the majors for the Dodgers, Minnesota Twins and Red Sox. For his career, he has a .224 average, 16 homers and 67 RBIs in the majors. The right-handed batter is a career .270 hitter in 877 games at the Class AAA level.
His only full season in the majors came in his big league debut with the Dodgers in 2005, when he batted .221 with eight homers and 30 RBIs in 129 games.
Repko, who lives in Washington state his wife and their two kids, says he feels as healthy as he’s ever been, mainly thanks to doing the popular Insanity workout over the off-season. The 5-foot, 11-inch Repko said he went from 194 pounds and 10.5 percent body fat down to 182 pounds and seven percent body fat.
“I made some huge adjustments in my diet and nutrition, which has led to more energy and messing with my workout a little bit. I had great results from the Insanity workout. I’m lighter than I’ve ever been,” Repko said. “Getting married, having a son and a daughter you have to figure out what your routine is gonna be every year. I said I’m gonna put a little bit more (responsibilities) on my wife so I can get after it this off-season.”
(By the way, it’s probably a great thing that the walls at Sovereign Bank Stadium were given pads in 2012. Especially after seeing all these highlights by Repko. Just search for his name on MLB.com, where you can find highlights of an impressive catch at the wall, another impressive catch at the wall, a game-winning throw for the Red Sox from center to home for the final out, a sliding catch in foul territory, among other highlights. Also, check out an 18-minute video of him talking about his career or a grainy eight-second video of a leaping catch into the centerfield wall somewhere).
Repko joins center fielder Tyler Graham and right fielder Jeff Fiorentino – all former big leaguers – in a York outfield that’s shaping up to be one of the best in the league this season. Ball didn’t rule out signing one more outfielder by the time spring training opens April 8, but he also noted that Limonta and Perez have previously played the outfield in their careers, so the Revs don’t necessarily need one more outfielder for insurance should a starter go down.
“We’ve had good defensive outfields every year since I’ve been here,” Revs manager Mark Mason said. “I think what it does is it makes it easier on the pitching staff because they know guys are willing to go hard after the balls in the gaps. And that’s a lot of the reason guys get hurt. They play all out. But if it’s good for them it’s good for our pitching staff, too.”
While the Revs still have to fill the short stop position, two of the eight position players signed so far are left-handed hitters (Fiorentino and Limonta), something Mason is comfortable with.
“I think we’re gonna be able to do a lot of alternating with right- and left-handers throughout the lineup,” Mason said. “I’m sure there will be some switch-hitters who will show up here shortly. We’re putting it together. And I’m keeping it in mind to not be dominant on just one side. We play in a ballpark where the ball flies everywhere.”
Penney, Korpi: Penney, a 6-foot, 7-inch right-hander and former Seattle Mariners‘ prospect, put together an impressive 3.20 ERA and 2-1 record in 60 relief appearances for York last season. Ball said the California native was busy this off-season working towards a degree in Statistics with quantitative management at UC Riverside. (Check out features on the charismatic Penney here and here).
The left-handed Korpi, 26, is a former Miami Marlins’ prospect who went 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in 15 relief appearances and three starts for the Revs in 2012.
Korpi’s most memorable outing last season came in a spot start for Corey Thurman on Aug. 16 against Camden. The lefty went five scoreless innings, holding the Riversharks to two hits while striking out three and walking one and throwing 38 of 60 pitches for strikes while issuing first-pitch strikes to nine of 18 batters.
Afterwards, the 6-foot, 185-pound lefty joked about how he still hears from people on claim to Internet fame when a Youtube video went viral that showed Korpi getting hit in the face by a 100-mph line-drive on the mound for Notre Dame (warning, it’s a pretty shocking video).
“I actually made my start the next week,” Korpi had said of the incident. “When I threw my fastball down the middle I was a little on edge. But it wasn’t too difficult.”
Anyway, here’s what Mason envisions for both Penney and Korpi this season:
“I see Penney in the role he was in last year,” Mason said. “I love him against right-handed hitters. We have to develop some things with him against left-handed hitters. Korpi was good in the role he was in last year. This year he’ll be built up to go as a long reliever.”
YORK INFIELD (Position Name, Age, Bats L/R):
C Patrick Arlis, 32, R
C Salvador Paniagua, 29, R
3B Andy Marte, 29, R
2B Andres Perez, 28, R
1B Johan Limonta, 29, L
CF Tyler Graham, 29, R
RF Jeff Fiorentino, 29, L
LF Jason Repko, 32, R
YORK STARTING PITCHERS
LHP Chris Cody, 29
RHP Corey Thurman, 34
RHP Matt Fox, 30
RHP Nick Schumacher, 27
LHP Kris Regas, 27
LHP Yunior Novoa, 28
RHP Josh Judy, 27
RHP Stephen Penney, 26
LHP Wade Korpi, 26