Although there’s recent evidence to the contrary, we are not turning into a L.A. Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks blog. (Five of the last seven posts before this one involved one of those two organizations.)
While a lot of former Revolution players are ending up with those two organizations as either players or coaches, this news breaks that trend. Yet another former Rev is carving out a nice minor league coaching career for himself. Former infielder Liu Rodriguez (’09-’12) is entering his third season as a coach for the Milwaukee Brewers, and will be the hitting coach this season for their rookie ball affiliate, the Helena (Montana) Brewers of the Pioneer League.
It’s a York Revolution reunion on the coaching staff of the Inland Empire 66ers, the High-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, in San Bernadino, California.
While former Revs first baseman Chad Tracy (’13-’14) was being promoted from the Halos Low-A manager to High-A skipper, his former Revolution teammate Michael Wuertz (’13-14), was being hired by the organization as a minor league pitching coach. The two will both be with Inland Empire for the 2016 season.
Tracy, who after nine pro seasons and one managing is only 30, will have eight seasons of MLB playing experience on his staff with Wuertz, who is 37. Wuertz spent the final two seasons of his career with York, appearing in 71 games. Prior to an injury-shortened 2014, Wuertz seemed primed for a possible Major League comeback after missing all of 2012; in 2013 he was one of the top middle relievers in the Atlantic League. In 53 games and 50.1 innings, he posted a 2.86 ERA and struck out 62 batters, and tossed in six saves for good measure.
After three seasons with the New York Mets, former Revolution lefty reliever Scott Rice has signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He’ll aim to reach the Majors for the first time since 2014, lest he be assigned to Triple-A Reno coming out of spring training. Rice is on a minor league deal, for now.
While most saw the news first on the Twitter account of Yahoo! Sports baseball writer Jeff Passan, Rice for all intents and purposes broke the news himself hours earlier, with the semi-cryptic tweet above, rife with clever emoji use.
Former York Revolution infielder Keoni DeRenne (’07-’09) is entering his fifth season as a minor league coach in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, and will serve as hitting coach for the A-Advanced Bradenton Marauders of the Florida State League in 2016. DeRenne spent the last two seasons as hitting coach for the West Virginia Power of the Class A South Atlantic League. Bradenton also serves as Pittsburgh’s spring training and rookie ball complex.
DeRenne first joined the Pirates prior to the 2011 season, following his retirement as a player-coach for the Philadelphia Phillies, working/playing with four different affiliates from Class A to Triple-A in 2010. He has even garnered some managing experience, skippering the Pirates entry in the Dominican Summer League in 2013.
For many players, baseball is a year-round vocation. That’s certainly true for several players with ties to the Revolution and other Atlantic League clubs. If you want to check out stats and other familiar names you can spot on rosters, the main page for MLB-sanctioned winter leagues is here.
Winter ball teams are a diverse collection of players of different achievement level and most notably age; it’s a melting pot of career minor leaguers, established Major Leaguers and some of the game’s brightest young stars. For example, Minnesota Twins super-prospect Miguel Sano plays for Estrellas de Oriente in the Dominican Republic, while Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, who beat out Sano for the American League Rookie of the Year award, plays in his native Puerto Rico for Indios de Mayaguez.
On the other side of that coin, ageless wonders Brad Penny (Navegantes del Magallanes, 14 MLB seasons) and Freddy Garcia (Tigres de Aragua, 15 MLB seasons) are each still pitching in Venezuela during the off-season. There are countless more examples of each extreme, so happy browsing. Here is the list of Revolution players (mostly pitchers) soaking up the sun this fall and winter:
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.
With the news earlier this month that newcomer New Britain, CT would play in the Atlantic League in 2016, it unfortunately meant a current league member would not, as the league is adamant about keeping an even number of franchises. Otherwise, the all-travel Road Warriors would have to be reintroduced, a situation the league has not been in since 2011, and one with obvious burdens the ALPB does not wish to re-visit.
On October 21 it was announced the Camden Riversharks, after 15 seasons at Campbell’s Field across the river from Philadelphia, had ceased operations. While it’s exciting to welcome a new league member in New Britain, made possible by the Double-A Eastern League franchise that had been calling their ballpark home relocating to nearby Hartford, it’s nonetheless disappointing to lose the second-closest team to York and a natural rival from the league lineup. The Riversharks’ lease at Campbell’s Field expired following the season, and was not successfully renegotiated.
Also falling by the wayside is the best setting in the Atlantic League, in the opinion of this humble writer, pictured above. It was pretty cool to sit on the first base side at Campbell’s Field, where you get an awesome view of the Philadelphia skyline and the Delaware River under the Ben Franklin Bridge, which connects New Jersey and Philadelphia. It was definitely one of the best settings for a game in pro baseball.