Scott Rice heads to Major League spring training with the Dodgers, Mike DeMark too, with D-Backs
When the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, their fans affectionately referred to them as “Dem Bums.” Now that the Los Angeles version is marred in bankruptcy, perhaps that name is most fitting now. But I digress. Former Revolution left-handed reliever Scott Rice will spend March rubbing elbows with the big leaguers, as he strives to make his long awaited, and long overdue MLB debut.
Speaking of rubbing elbows, that’s pretty much what de-ralied a Major League debut that at one point seemed to be a sure thing. As the 44th overall pick in the draft in 1999 by the Orioles out of high school, Rice’s path to the big leagues seemed to be on the fast track, before a serious elbow injury – that was mis-diagnosed by several organizations – put Rice’s career in jeopardy. But after the injury was successfully identified, he re-habbed and re-gained his lights out form which he displayed for the Revolution last season, posting a 2.46 ERA in 15 games and 14.2 innings, before his Atlantic League contract was purchased by the Dodgers on June 6. Rice was assigned to Double-A Chattanooga in the Southern League where he was even more impressive, allowing just 11 earned runs in 50.2 innings pitched and 34 games, for a 1.95 ERA. Rice struck out 42 and walked just 17, holding opponents to just a .223 average in Chattanooga.
Read about the saga of Rice’s injury if you haven’t already, courtesy of Revolution columnist Ron Gardner. It’s a pretty amazing story, and a fairy tale ending would have it end in Dodger Stadium sometime this season, assuming Rice has another good year. Considering how he pitched last year and the fact he is finally healthy, there isn’t much reason to think he won’t have a solid 2012. While making the Dodgers 25-man roster out of spring training is a long-shot, look for him to start the season at Triple-A Albuquerque in the Pacific Coast League, and be on a short-list for a call-up once the Dodgers need it, assuming he pitches well. The fact Rice has a chance to make his MLB debut with the Dodgers adds even more to the story, considering he is a SoCal native. (Simi Valley).
York Daily Record Revolution beat writer Jim Seip posted the news about Rice on his blog, Revs Inside Pitch. He also says right-handed reliever Mike DeMark is headed to spring training with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the organziation that purchased his Atlantic League contract three days earlier than Rice’s on June 3, after allowing just a 2.61 ERA in 13 relief appearances for the Revolution, striking out 17 and walking only four. At Double-A Mobile in the Southern League, DeMark continued to pitch well, posting a 1.85 ERA in 32 appearances and 34 innings with 15 saves, striking out 48 and walking only nine. DeMark was promoted to Triple-A Reno for two appearances to end the season, where he did not allow a run in two innings. Opponents hit just. 213 off DeMark with the Diamondbacks organization this season.
At first it was unclear whether DeMark would be in minor or Major League camp, but he sent us a text saying he would indeed be in MLB camp, like Rice. One thing is very clear: The D-Backs love him and want him to succeed. Even at the beginning of last season, their were rumblings DeMark would defect to the D-Backs as early as Revs opening day. It was just a case of a minor league spot opening up for him, which happened in early June. Arizona was hot on DeMark’s trail from the beginning because he had been with the San Diego Padres prior to coming to York, all the way up to Triple-A. While with San Diego, DeMark made a fan out of then-General Manager Kevin Towers, who now has the same post with Arizona after he and the Padres parted ways. Needless to say Towers is still a fan, and if DeMark picks up where he left off after that stellar 2011, a chance for him to make his Major League debut as well isn’t completely out of the question for 2012.
Therein lies the beauty of minor league baseball; you get to enjoy your current team on the field, and keep track of your alums, hoping they make it big. It’s been a long time coming for the Revolution, who entering season number six are still stuck on just one alum to make it to the Majors. And Tike Redman spent only the first seven games of the season with York in the inaugural 2007 campaign, only to sign with the Orioles, go to Triple-A Norfolk, before finishing the season in the bigs patrolling the Camden Yards outfield for the O’s.
There have been other close calls with Rev alums in Triple-A, but so far no dice. As I lamented back in October, Val Majewski got screwed last year after signing with Texas, finishing the season at Triple-A Round Rock with impressive numbers, but was passed over for a September call-up. If that isn’t enough, our sources tell us Majewski likely WON’T be invited to Rangers spring training. Seriously? If they can lose the World Series every year without him, they can lose it with him too.
As Rice and DeMark inch closer to the dream however, their situation is slightly different. Redman and Majewski each had prior MLB service time. Rice and DeMark would both be making their MLB debuts, if it happens. It’s always a little more special in my opinion for an Atlantic League alum to make their Major League debut in the show after playing in our league, not to say that a veteran clawing their way back is any less impressive.
The coaching staff has begun to agree to terms with the first players for 2012. Check back here and the Revs All Access section of YorkRevolution.com for announcements about players under contract for this season. The first names will probably be made public toward the end of this month.