One last Revs alum MLB spring training update…
It’s getting down to the wire for the three members of last year’s Atlantic League Champion Revolution who are enjoying the lush Cactus League MLB spring training surroundings in Arizona. Here I offer the latest news on each and some predictions on what may happen mid-week when major and minor league rosters must be decided.
Scott Rice, Dodgers LHP: L.A. Manager Don Mattingly has still not ruled out Rice starting the season in the Dodgers bullpen. A non-roster invitee in spring training making the Opening Day big league roster is rare, but that doesn’t even begin to tell Rice’s story. There’s his complicated and remarkable injury history, and the chance the Simi Valley, CA native could make his Major League debut with his (sort-of) hometown team. Should that debut happen, it would come in his FOURTEENTH professional season, although Rice is still only 30 years old after signing with the Orioles at just 17 after being drafted in 1999. Jamie Moyer is still old enough to be Scott Rice’s dad. And with all due respect to Moyer and his Satchel Paige-like longevity, to me Rice making the Dodgers roster out of camp would be the story of the spring…not just for the Revolution or Atlantic League, but for all of baseball. Just a remarkable story and set of circumstances. Here is a blurb from Tony Jackson’s Dodgers Report for ESPNLA.com:
Mattingly continues to insist that non-roster, minor league journeyman Scott Rice is still in the mix, and without him the Dodgers will have only one lefty in an eight-man bullpen. Rice’s ERA for the spring also is a half-run better (3.86) than Lindblom’s (4.36) after Rice pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings against the Diamondbacks.
There was also this MLB.com feature on Rice this week, the most interesting detail of which is all the now-empty lockers surrounding his in the section of the Dodgers clubhouse reserved for players who are among the first cut from MLB camp. Rice has indeed perservered and beaten the odds to this point.
I PREDICT Rice will start the season at Triple-A Albuquerque, but make his MLB-debut for the Dodgers shortly this season. With Rice in contention to make the big club, it’s a near certainty the Dodgers will keep him in Triple-A at the minimum. It’s hard to imagine a team beginning the season with just one lefty reliever, and it sounds like Rice would be the first to L.A. when/if the need arises. But I hope I am wrong and Mattingly decides to go with Rice as his second lefty to begin the season out of the Dodgers pen. But I feel confident in saying Rice will definitely pitch in the Major Leagues this season, barring injury. Another Atlantic League success story.
Mike DeMark, Diamondbacks RHP: DeMark’s promotion from York to the D-Backs Double and Triple-A clubs to end last season was certainly well deserved based on performance. But Arizona GM Kevin Towers seems to be the one who put the deal in motion. DeMark was originally with San Diego when Towers presided over that organization as General Manager, and DeMark reached Triple-A Portland with the Padres in 2010 and 2011. Word was Towers was a huge fan of DeMark despite not having any MLB experience yet, and even as he arrived in York for the season last spring, there was talk abound that DeMark would sign with Arizona as soon as they had a minor league spot open. That came to fruition mid-season, and off he was to Mobile (AA) and then a late-season promotion to Reno (AAA).
DeMark has spent this spring in Major League camp, but doesn’t appear to be a priority for the organziation right now. He has allowed nary a run or even a walk in spring training. However, those numbers have come in just four games and four innings. In those four innings, DeMark has struck out six, allowing a lone hit for a 0.77 average against. Impressive to be sure despite the small sample size, but you have to figure for a guy to only get four looks all month, he isn’t a real priority for the big league team. It’s a shame for him, but such is the life of a minor league ballplayer.
I PREDICT DeMark will play the entire season at Reno or Mobile, or a combination of the two. Because Towers is fond of him, it seems unlikely DeMark wouldn’t be part of one of the affiliates when camp breaks, but a spot in the majors seems highly unlikely. It’s certainly possible if he continues to pitch as well as he did last season that DeMark could get called up to make his MLB debut if the D-Backs were in need. Despite how well DeMark has played over the last 12 months, I just can’t get over his lack of spring training appearances. I wish he had been given more of an opportunity.
Val Majewski, Rangers OF: Exciting news last week when Majewski was moved into Major League camp from the minor league side with Texas and celebrated by getting a hit against the Angels. Our sources tell us the organization loves Val, his professionalism and his willingness to mentor younger players. Despite his great showing at Triple-A Round Rock after departing York last season, the latest word is that the Rangers are leaning toward putting Majewski at Double-A Frisco to start the season. Such an assignement would essientially cast Val as a player-coach, where the club would have a dependable veteran bat in the lineup each day for winning’s sake, and a quality mentor to younger players, for development’s sake. That situation would remind me of Revolution all-time great Keoni DeRenne who finished his career with the Phillies organization in 2010 after three seasons with York, as a minor league player-coach type dealy. That year DeRenne spent the season playing with four different Phillies affiliates from Low A to Triple-A, and even got the lone hit off Stephen Strasburg while playing in a Double-A game for Reading at Harrisburg.
I PREDICT Majewski will spend the season with the Rangers organization, with the combination of Frisco and Round Rock. Should he get an appropriate amount of at-bats in Triple-A this season, he may be in contention for a September call-up. However, with as well as he hit last year at Triple-A without the call-up I believe he deserved, who knows. Should the Rangers release Majewski out of spring training, or at any point in 2012, he’ll always have a place to play in York, and hopefully that feeling is mutual. For his sake, hopefully that is not the case.