Judy signed by Angels
York Revolution reliever Josh Judy became the second Atlantic League player to get picked up by a big league club during the regular season when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim signed the right-hander to a contract. He’s also the first player in the league to earn a major league contract after playing in a game (Cincinnati signed Camden’s Marquez Smith on April 19, but Smith didn’t actually play in the Atlantic League this season).
Judy becomes the first Revs player ever to be signed by the Angels. He’ll report to the Angels’ Class AA affiliate Arkansas (formerly Little Rock) Travelers, where he’ll learn under the tutelage of pitching coach Mike Hampton, the former big league pitcher who retired after the 2010 season with a career 148-115 record and 4.06 ERA in the majors. Judy’s signing comes a day after Arkansas placed relief pitcher Daniel Tillman on the seven-day disabled list. Tillman, a second-round draft choice of the Angels in 2010, has a 8.64 ERA in eight appearances so far this season with Arkansas.
It’s worth noting the Angels didn’t sign one player out of the Atlantic League during the 2012 season after signing two in the 2011 season. One of those two pick-ups in 2011 – relief pitcher Jerome Williams – has turned out to be a great move by the Angels. Williams played for three big league ball clubs before pitching for the Lancaster Barnstormers in 2011. He posted a 2.91 ERA in eight games (seven starts) for Lancaster before being signed by the Angels in June and pitching for the big league team later that season. He has pitched in 50 big league games for the Angels since 2011 (through Wednesday). Former Southern Maryland second baseman Matt Cusick was the other guy Los Angeles signed in 2011 (Cusick split the 2012 season between the independent Can-Am League and American Association).
A former big leaguer, Judy posted a 1-0 record and 2.25 ERA in four relief appearances for the Revs. He last pitched for York on Saturday at Bridgeport, allowing one hit in 0.2 innings of work. He’s been throwing in the low 90s this season.
The Angels will mark Judy’s third different major league organization he will play for as the West Virginia native looks to get back to the majors since pitching there in 2011 with the Cleveland Indians.
Even that journey to the majors was quite remarkable considering what Judy had been through to get there.
Indiana Institute of Technology, a small NCAA Division III school with roughly the same student population as York College’s 4,000-plus students, was the only school to recruit Judy out of University High School in Morgantown, W. Va.
The 6-foot-4 inch righty then used the opportunity at Indiana Tech to later get drafted in 2007 by the Cleveland Indians in the 34th round. He then overcame the doubts that often surface against players drafted in the later rounds to make it to the big leagues.
“I’m just lucky to not only get drafted, but was able to get to the major leagues at the highest stage,” Judy had said during an interview last month at Sovereign Bank Stadium following York’s second day of spring training practice. “And I want to continue my career. I don’t think it’s over yet.”
Certainly not at just 27 years old and less than two years removed from last pitching in the majors. Although the road he’s taken since making the Indians’ big-league roster has been a bumpy one.
Struggles: Judy struggled in the majors in 2011, posting a 7.07 ERA in 12 games with Cleveland. That September he underwent minor knee surgery to clean up his left meniscus, which stemmed from a high school injury when he tore his left meniscus in preseason football practice.
The Cincinnati Reds claimed him off waivers the ensuing off-season and in 2012 he put up the worst numbers of his career with a 6.99 ERA in 40 relief appearances with the Reds’ Class AAA Louisville club. But Judy puts part of the blame on the team for trying him out as a long reliever after being a “one-inning guy” his entire pro career.
That’s not to say he didn’t have things he had to improve on this season. Mason said he and pitching coach John Halama worked with Judy on getting his arm slot up.
“He was throwing with his elbow way down. He was flattening everything out and flattening the slider. You usually couldn’t throw it for a strike. Once he got up into a better slot then the velocity came back,” Mason said. “The first time (in spring training) I just wanted to watch guys throw. I’m looking for arm action, looking to see if guys were pushing the ball or favoring something. He (Judy) was (throwing) low. We kept hollering at him ‘Get your arm up. Get your arm slot up.’ I’m happy. Good for him.”
A free agent for the first time in his career this past off-season, Judy received zero interest from big-league clubs. He then began looking into the Atlantic League. In particular, he called an old college friend, Kaylee Swanson, now a Revs’ corporate partnerships associate, to inquire about York. He also had a connection in Revs’ pitching coach John Halama. The two played winter ball together in the Dominican Republic in 2010.
Judy is one of only three players to be drafted out of Indiana Tech — and the only one to reach the majors. Now he’ll begin a journey to become just the fourth pitcher to make it to the big leagues after playing for York.
Not alone: Judy will join six other former Revs in affiliated ball. Pitchers Shawn Hill (Detroit Tigers), Ian Thomas (Braves), Ryan Feierabend (Rangers), Omar Javier (San Francisco Giants), Justin Hampson (New York Mets) and outfielder Michael Hernandez (Tigers) are currently playing in the minors. York alum Scott Rice is still dominating in the majors as a relief pitcher for the Mets.
By the numbers: York had three players earn big-league contracts last season. All three were pitchers: reliever Ian Thomas (Braves) and starters Ryan Feierabend (Reds) and Shawn Hill (Toronto Blue Jays). It’ll be interesting to see if this season will be a reversal of last year, when 12 of the first 17 players picked up by major league clubs were position players before a string of pitchers were signed starting in mid-June.
Roster: York’s active roster is now at 26 players with the departure of Judy. Atlantic League clubs can carry a maximum of 27 players on their active rosters through the end of May, when rosters have to be paired down to 25 players. With the loss of Judy, the Revs now have 14 players with big league experience under contract (including reliever Pedro Liriano, who is inactive).