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Alumni Update: Five former Revs become minor league free agents

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Major League Baseball grants free agency to all players with expiring contracts five days after the conclusion of the World Series, granted that player hasn’t re-signed with their organization.  In the case of players who had their contracts purchased from an Atlantic League team, their release is automatic following the World Series.  That’s just a point of procedure, and not necessarily a comment on how that player performed.  Five former Revolution players, and several other Atlantic League alums are now in one of those two categories:

OF Shannon Wilkerson (’15, Twins):  Upon joining Double-A Chattanooga from York on July 9, Wilkerson made an immediate impact with his new club with a hot start, not unlike his first days with the Revolution in late May.  He ended up being a fixture in Chattanooga’s lineup as  leadoff hitter, and helped them to the Southern League Championship.  Wilkerson’s .292/1 HR/22 RBI showing in 49 games with Chattanooga in his age 26 season should go a long way in Minnesota’s considerations to re-sign him.  If not, it won’t be long before he finds work elsewhere.  If he were available to the Revolution either before or following spring training, he almost certainly would be signed by Manager Mark Mason.

OF Jose Constanza (’15, Rays):  When Constanza was plucked off York’s roster on August 31 by Tampa Bay, it was done with explicit understanding that he would be a September call-up by the Rays, after playing the final week of the Triple-A season with Durham.  That didn’t happen, and an incident where Constanza attempted to charge the mound in Durham’s second to last game of the season against Norfolk probably didn’t help.  The idea was Constanza, long known for his plus speed as a Major Leaguer with the Braves, could play a key role as a pinch runner/hitter on an expanded roster, as Tampa Bay chased an American League Wild Card spot.  The Rays finished 80-82 without his services.  Constanza batting .324 in 31 games with York after beginning last season at Triple-A Louisville with the Reds should garner him attention and a non-roster invite to Major League spring training somewhere.

RHP Hunter Adkins (’15, Marlins):  You just never know in baseball.  Still in need of starting pitching in August following the unexplained and bizarre departure of Shawn Hill, Adkins was added to the Revolution roster on 8/17 following the conclusion of the Frontier League season.  Adkins, 24, made 15 starts for Lake Erie on the circuit designed for younger players, posting a 2.70 ERA in 97 innings with a solid 94 strikeouts.  The success didn’t translate to the Atlantic League however, as the former Oakland A’s prospect got shelled in three games and just seven innings with York, to the tune of a 19.29 ERA.  He allowed 16 hits and 15 earned runs in that time.  When it comes to a still-developing player however, it’s of course all about raw talent and not numbers at a tender age, and the Marlins took a flier on Adkins, even after his release from the Revolution on August 27.  With just days remaining in the Florida State League season, Adkins was added to the roster at High-A Jupiter, in what basically amounted to a live-game tryout.  In one relief appearance, Adkins whiffed three batters in two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit.  The Triple-A and MLB veteran hitters in the Atlantic League were likely too much for him at this point, but if Adkins can make strides at the lower levels, there still could be something there.  Let’s assume the Marlins will re-sign Adkins; as we mentioned above an automatic release coming from the Atlantic League is a given following the season.  A reasonable assumption, as if Miami wasn’t interested in at least bringing him to spring training in February, they likely wouldn’t have gone through the hassle to bring him in for one game.

OF/1B Brian Burgamy (’13, Dodgers):  In May, Burgamy made a bit of national news within baseball circles when he made his Triple-A debut for Oklahoma City in his age 33-34 season.  Unfortunately, his .152 average in 24 games with OKC precluded any type of storybook Major League debut at 34 for the 14-year pro and he was returned to Double-A Tulsa.  Burgamy spent 43 games with York before departing to the Mexican League in 2013, stroking .345/9 HR/35 RBI with the Revolution.  The good times in continued in 2014, when he spent the entire season with the Mets at Double-A Binghamton, where he went .276/23 HR/76 RBI in 121 games, leading the B-Mets to an Eastern League championship as their most seasoned player.  Right now it’s unclear where, or if, Burgamy will continue playing in 2016.

LHP Scott Rice (’11, Mets):  It had to have been tough on Rice as he watched the Mets and Terry Collins, who he pitched in 105 Major League games for in 2013 and 2014, win the National League East and make it to the World Series without him.  Rice, who re-signed with the Mets as a free agent prior to the season but was never on their 40-man roster, had a tremendous season at Triple-A Las Vegas.  In his typical match-up lefty role, Rice spun a 1.82 ERA in 40 innings over 56 appearances, adding a save for good measure.  And this despite the thin air of the Pacific Coast League, and it’s “offensive” reputation that has long favored hitters, compared to most other leagues.  Despite the success, New York never found a way to add him to their MLB roster, a fact complicated by the issue that as a non 40-man roster player upon signing his second contract with the Mets, they would’ve had to put another player from a very successful club on waivers and risk losing said player, if they were to add Rice in the big leagues.  Rice had a fan in his former manager Collins, so his absence from the Majors this year was far from personal, and only procedural.  Rice, who will turn 34 in 2016, will look for another spring training invite and Triple-A job, probably not with the Mets, to make another run at the show.

Other former Atlantic League players entering minor league free agency (MLB club is most recent 2015 organization).  * indicates previous MLB service time:

Blue Jays RHP Derek Blacksher (Newark ’09 & ’10, Long Island ’13 & Sugar Land ’15)
Blue Jays RHP Greg Burke (Atlantic City ’05)*
Brewers RHP Tim Dillard (Lancaster ’13 & ’14)*
Angels OF Blake Gailen (Lancaster ’12, ’13 & ’15)
Angels C Jose Gil (Camden ’15)
Indians RHP Jarrett Grube (Southern Maryland ’09 & ’10)*
Dodgers C Ralph Henriquez (Long Island ’13)
Padres LHP Jason Lane (Southern Maryland ’10 & Sugar Land ’12 & ’13)*
Mets 1B Brock Peterson (Bridgeport ’11 & ’12)*
Mariners OF Burt Reynolds (Camden ’13)
Mariners RHP Chien-Ming Wang (Southern Maryland ’15)*
Rangers SS Beamer Weems (Sugar Land ’15)

-Paul Braverman

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