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Pitcher’s Alumni Update

Between New York, Las Vegas and various points north and south, for the last two seasons a host of former Revolution pitchers have been climbing the ladder and making an impact in the Major Leagues or close to it.  When you consider York’s current Manager was once the Pitching Coach, the tutelage of Mark Mason has played a key role in the Revolution being known as a premier destination for free agent pitchers to take their careers a step closer to the big leagues. Here is an update of how a handful of those alums are doing:

Scott Rice, New York Mets (MLB)
His story is well chronicled by now from the York Revolutionary Times to most national baseball outlets, but after 14-minor league seasons for 18 different teams and overcoming a serious arm injury, Rice finally cracked a big league roster out of spring training for the first time at age 31.  This season, the former first round pick of the Orioles in 1999 was the oldest MLB rookie on any roster.  He made his Major League debut April 1 on Opening Day no less, closing out a Mets 11-2 win over the Padres with a 1-2-3 ninth.  Rice even struck out the first two batters he faced swinging for good measure, Nick Hundley and Cameron Maybin.  The lights out performance was hardly a fluke – as Rice has transformed from more than just a heartwarming story of perseverance to one of the most reliable left-handed relievers in baseball.  He posted just a 1.80 ERA through his first 17 big league games, holding opposing batters to just a .200 average.  His contract was originally purchased from the Revolution by the Los Angeles Dodgers in June of 2011, after he struck out 15 in just 14.2 innings in 15 appearances for York.  Rice became the 4th former Rev to reach the Majors, and the first to make his Major League debut after playing in the White Rose City.  He signed with the Mets as a free agent last offseason.

Shawn Hill, Toledo Mud Hens (Triple-A, Detroit Tigers)
On September 29, Hill became the third former Revolution player to reach the big leagues, and the second to go from York to the Majors in the same season (OF Tike Redman, 2007 Orioles) when he pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.  That day he also became the first former Rev to earn a Major League win, when he and the Blue Jays topped Andy Pettitte and the Yankees 3-2.  For Hill, a Canadian from Ontario, it was his second tour of duty with Toronto after also pitching for Montreal, Washington and San Diego in the bigs.  After choosing to sign with Detroit as a free agent last offseason, Hill parlayed a solid spring training with the Tigers into the #1 starter roll with their top affiliate in Toledo, meaning a call-up to Detroit could be imminent.  In his first six starts, Hill posted a 3.99 ERA in 38.1 innings, with 21 strikeouts and just six walks in that time. For the 2012 Revolution, established the franchise record for consecutive scoreless innings, 27.2, over his final five starts for York.  His contract was purchased by the Blue Jays in June of 2012.

Justin Hampson, Las Vegas 51s (Triple-A, New York Mets)
Last June, Hampson became the second Revolution alum to reach the Majors when the Mets called up the left-handed reliever.  While his stay was brief, Hampson would later make history as the first former Rev to reach the big leagues on two occasions when he was called back to the Mets in September.  In all, he appeared in 13 games out of the Mets bullpen last year and excelled posting a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings.  After another trip to Major League Spring Training this year with New York, ironically it was likely Scott Rice that prevented Hampson from making the Mets Opening Day Roster for the final lefty spot out of the bullpen.  He appeared in 11 games tossing 16.1 innings for the Revolution in 2010.  Prior to York, Hampson had already reached the Majors with Colorado and San Diego.

Ryan Feierabend, Round Rock Express (Triple-A, Texas Rangers)
At just 27, Feierabend has already had an accomplished, and well-traveled career.  In the past year alone, he’s gone from the Revolution to the Cincinnati Triple-A Affiliate in Lousiville, back to York, to spring training with Texas, to their Double-A team in Frisco, TX and then to their Triple-A club in Round Rock, TX where he currently pitches.  Despite his age Feierabend has already pitched in three MLB seasons with Seattle from 2006-2008, where he made his MLB debut at 20.  In those three seasons, he made 25 appearances and 19 starts with the Mariners. He was promoted to Round Rock from Frisco after just five starts, as he inches closer to a possible big league return with Texas.

Ian Thomas, Mississippi Braves (Double-A, Atlanta Braves)
The hottest “prospect” of all the York Revolution alums out there is Thomas.  Now 26, Thomas was plucked off the York roster by the Braves a year ago in May after the southpaw dominated in seven appearances and 9.1 innings.  In that time he struck out 12 and allowed just one run on a solo homer, good for a 0.96 ERA in York.  Finishing last season at Class A Rome (GA), Thomas punched out 58 hitters in just 45.2 innings and converted six saves.  That effort earned him a promotion to Double-A Mississippi for this season, where Thomas dominated in his first 10 appearances and 15 innings, allowing just two runs for a 1.20 ERA, 19 strikeouts and held opponents to a miniscule .137 average against.  He went undrafted out of VCU in 2009, and put up similar efforts in three seasons for the Winnipeg Goldeyes from 2009-2011 before joining the Revolution in 2012.  Thomas has a knack for winning in relief – as a professional he is 20-6 with Winnipeg, York, Rome and Mississippi having never made a pro start.  A promotion to Triple-A Gwinnett could be in the cards if Thomas continues at this rate.

Mike DeMark, Midland RockHounds (Double-A, Oakland Athletics)
When the Western Pennsylvania native DeMark was signed off the York roster by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011 on the direction of Dbacks GM Kevin Towers, who was also DeMark’s GM when they were both with the San Diego Padres organization, he appeared to be primed for his big league debut.  However, despite two solid seasons at Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno, DeMark found himself a free agent following this year’s spring training.  It didn’t take the Oakland A’s long to pounce, and he reported to Double-A Midland in the Texas League.  DeMark clearly belongs on another level, as through his first six appearances and nine innings he allowed nary a run and just five hits while holding opponents to a .156 average.  DeMark’s promotion to Triple-A Sacramento should be imminent, where he will attempt to make his MLB debut in a third organization, despite posting solid numbers everywhere he’s been.  In 2011 DeMark struck out 17 batters in just 10.1 innings and 13 games for the Revs.

-Paul Braverman

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