Feature Photo: Conor Mullee, RHP, Yankees
We know, we know. Most of you read this column to get to know the real deal on the tippy-top prospects in the game as they set off on what will be long and successful journeys through the majors (and possibly even win spots on your fantasy league team).
But sometimes the guys who are making their debuts are not blue chip prospects. Sometimes they’re simply the right guy at the right time. And just as often those guys – the ones who are the right guys at the right time – have been the wrong guy at the wrong time so many times they’ve lost count.
The ex-baseball player landscape is littered with players like that. And I (your humble scribe) can guarantee you that every one of those guys who didn’t make it to the major leagues after toiling for years in the minor leagues had talent. A ton of talent. Even if they’re on the lower rungs of the minors, they are still exponentially better than most people who have picked up a bat and ball over the years.
Simply put, you do not get into the affiliated minor leagues unless you are one hell of a ballplayer.
After that, a lot of it is luck and timing. And talent, of course. But luck and timing too.
This week, a few of our debutantes are poster boys for having had some bad luck, and some bad timing, but that makes their arrival in the majors just that much sweeter.
Read the debut story about Pirates pitcher Wilfredo Boscan. You can be pretty sure that even when he “got the call” he didn’t celebrate until after that May 19 outing where he delivered two nearly perfect innings of relief in Pittsburgh’s 8-2 win over the Braves. That’s because last year he was called up to the majors three times – THREE DIFFERENT TIMES DURING THE REGULAR SEASON, NOT EVEN AFTER ROSTERS EXPANDED IN SEPTEMBER – and never got into a game.
Or Yankees pitcher Conor Mullee, who came thisclose to walking away from the game forever. Three elbow operations, including Tommy John surgery, and then two more surgeries for a broken elbow suffered in his fifth game back from TJ surgery, could be enough to make one throw in the towel and think of what might have been. But Mullee stuck with it, and his reward came this week in his May 16 major league debut.
Or Blue Jays pitcher Dustin Antolin, who spent seven years in Toronto’s farm system without ever making it past Double-A, only to start this year at Triple-A and promptly get the call a month later to take the major league hill on May 16.
Oh, we’ve got some “top prospects” for you this week too. But let’s just say that this week’s package was especially rewarding to write. -LW
American League Debuts
ACQUIRED: Fifth round of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Vanderbilt).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: .298 with one homer, 10 RBI and four steals in 34 games at Fresno (Triple-A).
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Fresno May 16 when OF Preston Tucker was sent down.
DEBUT: May 17, in a 6-5, 11-inning win against the White Sox. Kemp came on in the eighth inning as a pinch-runner for 1B Tyler White and scored a run. White had led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a single by Jake Marisnick when Kemp came in for him. He scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by Jose Altuve.
PLAYER NOTES: Kemp would get his first at-bats the next night, May 18, when he batted ninth and started in left field in a 5-3 win against the White Sox. He went 2-for-3 in that game, including a double, and contributed on defense with an outfield assist to nail Adam Eaton at second base. One of the most popular players in Vanderbilt University history, Kemp’s promotion could not have come at a more fortuitous time, as the Grizzlies were in the middle of a four-game series at Nashville, where he probably had as big a personal cheering section as the entire “hometown” team did. The SEC Player of the Year in 2013, Kemp is a smart player with great instincts and plays the game with the kind of obvious joy that can’t be faked. Part of a burgeoning if unofficial “Height Doesn’t Measure Heart” (aka HDMH) movement started by 5-foot-8 Toronto pitcher Marcus Stroman, the 5-foot-6 sparkplug hit a combined .306 between Corpus Christi (Double-A) and Fresno in 2015, with three homers, 48 RBIs and 35 steals in 121 games, after batting a combined .316 the previous season between Lancaster (High A) and Corpus Christi with eight home runs, 58 RBIs and 41 steals to go with 30 doubles for a .449 SLG. He takes a minor league career .303 average into his big league debut, and is the system’s top second base prospect.
ACQUIRED: Via trade from the Marlins on July 31, 2014, along with RHP Francis Martes and OF Jake Marisnick for RHP Jarred Cosart. SS Enrique Hernandez and OF Austin Wates. Originally drafted by the Marlins in the first round (sixth overall) of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft (University of North Carolina).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: .288 with three homers and 22 RBI and seven doubles in 32 games at Fresno (Triple-A).
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Fresno May 17 when OF Carlos Gomez went on the DL and RHP Asher Wojciechowski was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
DEBUT: May 18, in a 5-3 win against the White Sox. The starting third baseman, he batted sixth and went 0-for-3 with a walk, striking out once and stranding four runners. In his first at-bat he struck out swinging against White Sox starter Mat Latos, grounded out to end the third inning, and lined out with two outs in the fifth. In the seventh inning, Moran drew a walk against reliever Zach Putnam but was erased on a double play.
PLAYER NOTES: The Astros welcomed what could be half of its long-term future infield into the fold within 24 hours with the arrivals of Tony Kemp and Moran. The New York native went south for college and had two College World Series appearances with UNC under his belt by the time he was drafted by Miami in 2013. Sidelined early in 2015 with a broken jaw, he came back to hit .306 with nine homers, 67 RBIs and 25 doubles in 96 games at Corpus Christi (Double-A) after batting .296 with seven home runs and 55 RBIs in 117 games between Corpus Christi and Jupiter (High A/Marlins) in 2014. While he isn’t a threat on the bases nor, despite his size, has he shown much home run power, he’s been a consistent hitter and makes up for an average glove with a strong arm. The power could still come, since he’s only 23 (with a fall birthday, he started college at 17 so, despite signing as a junior, he was only 20 at the time).
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the 11th round of the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Mililani H.S., Mililani, Hawaii)
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA and three saves in 12 games (one start) at Buffalo (Triple-A), striking out 25 and walking 11 while allowing 18 hits in 20 innings.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Buffalo May 15 when LHP Brett Cecil went on the DL.
DEBUT: May 16, in a 3-2 loss to the Rays. The second of six pitchers, he allowed three runs, all earned, on four hits in two innings, walking one and striking out one. Coming on for starter J.A. Happ with two on and no out in the third inning, Antolin retired Desmond Jennings on a line out before giving up a three-run homer to Curt Casali. Kevin Kiermaier followed with a single back to the mound before Antolin struck out Tim Beckham swinging and retired Brandon Guyer on a pop out. In the fourth inning, after a lead off fly out by Taylor Motter (who was also making his big league debut), Evan Longoria drew a walk and, after Steve Pearce flew out for the second out, Steven Souza, Jr., singled and came around to score ahead of Longoria on Jennings’ double to center. Casali ended the threat when he popped out.
PLAYER NOTES: Although Antolin was sent down the day after his debut, this is one of those totally unanticipated promotions that makes writing this column so much fun. In his eighth year in the Blue Jays’ farm system, the 2016 campaign marked the first time he’d even played at Triple-A. Signed out of high school in Hawaii at 18, he was immediately placed into a relief role where he has spent the majority of his career (making two starts, one in 2015 and one this year) in 262 games. He actually made the jump to full-season ball quickly, spending the 2009 season at Lansing (Class A) where he pitched for part or all of three seasons, spent part or all of three more seasons at Dunedin (High A) and then moved up to New Hampshire (Double-A) in 2013 where he stayed until making it to Buffalo this year. In 2015 with New Hampshire, he posted a 3.07 ERA in 37 games, striking out 55 while walking 18 in 56 innings.
MIKE CLEVINGER, RHP, INDIANS:
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/210 B/T: R/R BORN: December 21, 1990
ACQUIRED: Via trade from the Angels on August 7, 2014, in exchange for RHP Vinnie Pestano. Originally drafted by the Angels in the fourth round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Seminole State Junior College in Florida).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 5-0 with a 3.03 ERA in seven starts at Columbus (Triple-A) including one complete game, striking out 36 in 35.2 IP while walking 17 and allowing 28 hits.
PROMOTED: Recalled from Columbus May 18 when OF Tyler Naquin was sent down.
DEBUT: May 18, in a 12-inning, 8-7 win against the Reds. He was the first of eight Indians pitchers on the night, allowing four runs, all earned, on five hits in 5.1 IP, walking one and striking out five (all swinging). The first big league batter he faced, Zack Cozart, delivered a line drive single to left field but was left stranded as Billy Hamilton grounded into a fielder’s choice, Joey Votto struck out and Brandon Phillips grounded out. In fact, Cozart’s single would be the only hit Clevinger would give up until the fourth inning when Jay Bruce, who had drawn a walk in his first plate appearance, hit a two-out solo homer to right field (the first of what would be two homers on the night for Bruce). Clevinger retired the next four batters he faced before giving up three runs to open the sixth. Cozart once again singled to lead the rally off and Hamilton reached on a bunt single before Votto’s double to center drove in both runners. After striking out Phillips, Clevinger was relieved by Kyle Crockett. Clevinger’s final charged run of the night came home when yet a third pitcher in the inning, Zach McCallister, came on and gave up a three-run homer to Eugenio Suarez.
PLAYER NOTES: Clevinger is not the only player in baseball to sport long lustrous locks, but for some reason he just seems to rock them the best (though the mom in me wants to pull it into a ponytail to keep it out of his eyes when he’s pitching). In the meantime, he is certainly putting up numbers that should get the attention of hair care products to add to his endorsements. Armed with a fastball in the low 90s, a hard slider, a changeup and a curveball in his arsenal, he led all Indians’ minor league pitchers in 2015 with 145 strikeouts in 27 starts at Akron (Double-A), going 9-8 with a 2.73 ERA in 158 innings and walking just 40 while allowing 127 hits. He also led the Eastern League by limiting opposing hitters to a .219 average and finished strong with 15 1/3 shutout innings at Columbus to help the Clippers clinch the International League title. Though he was drafted by the Angels in 2011, he didn’t actually make his pro debut until 2013 after signing late, and then undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012.
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the 17th round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Coastal Carolina University)
CURRENT SEASON STATS: .190 in 34 games at Durham (Triple-A) with four homers, 10 RBIs and eight steals.
PROMOTED: Recalled from Durham May 14 when 2B Logan Forsythe went on the DL and Danny Farquhar was designated for assignment.
DEBUT: May 16, in a 13-2 win against the Blue Jays. The starting shortstop (and, later, the right fielder in a massive defensive switch in the sixth inning), he batted second and went 1-for-4 with two runs scored and a walk. Motter singled in his first at-bat, an infield single to first, then scored on a homer by Steve Pearce. He flew out in his next three at-bats before drawing a walk in the eighth and scoring on another hit by Pearce, this one a single.
PLAYER NOTES: Despite his getting off to a rough first month at Durham, Motter still can boast a career .274 average in five-plus seasons and his 2015 Triple-A debut campaign at Durham was a huge success, as he hit .292 with 14 homers, 72 RBIs and 26 steals to go with 142 hits and 43 doubles for a .471 slugging percentage. He had similar stats at Montgomery (Double-A) in 2014 where he hit .274 with 16 home runs, 61 RBIs and 15 steals as well as 19 doubles for a .436 slugging percentage. Motter adds to his profile by being a superutility man — he has played every position except catcher and pitcher and can easily be used at both second and third base.
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the ninth round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft (University of South Carolina).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: .278 in 36 games at Omaha (Triple-A) with five homers, 17 RBIs and 16 steals (caught stealing just once).
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Omaha (Triple-A) May 18 (between games of a doubleheader) when IF Christian Colon was sent down and OF Jose Martinez was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
DEBUT: May 18, in a 5-2 loss to the Red Sox in the nightcap of a doubleheader. Batting ninth and playing left field, he went 1-for-3 with a strikeout. After flying out in in first at-bat in the third inning, Merrifield picked up his first big league hit with a single to left field off starter David Price in the fifth. In his final at-bat in the eighth inning, he struck out swinging against Price.
PLAYER NOTES: While it may be a little too early to call Merrifield a power hitter, his five homers at Omaha in his first 36 games of 2016 equaled his tally there in 135 games in 2015, when he hit .265 with 38 RBIs, 32 steals and 29 doubles. In 2014, between Northwest Arkansas (Double-A) and Omaha, he batted .319 with eight homers, 49 RBIs and 16 steals along with 41 doubles, including a .340 batting average in 76 games at Omaha that summer. Known in particular for his strike zone discipline, he continued to come on as a more dangerous hitter.
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the 22nd round of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft (University of Tennessee-Martin).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in seven starts at Northwest Arkansas (Double-A), striking out 44 while walking six and allowing 35 hits in 42 innings.
PROMOTED: Recalled from Northwest Arkansas (Double-A) on May 18 as the 26th man for a doubleheader against the Red Sox.
DEBUT: May 18, in a 5-2 loss to the Red Sox in Game 2 of a doubleheader. The fourth of five pitchers, he tossed two-thirds of an inning, allowing one run on one hit and two walks. Coming on in the top of the eighth inning for reliever Scott Alexander, he gave up a leadoff walk to Josh Rutledge and Jackie Bradley, Jr. followed with a single to right field. Rutledge scored on a groundout by Christian Vasquez and Brock Holt followed with a pop out. After hitting Mookie Betts with a pitch and walking Xander Bogaerts, Mills was relieved by RHP Chien-Ming Wang, who got David Ortiz to ground out to end the threat.
PLAYER NOTES: Mills was sent back to the minors after the game, as is generally the norm (though not required) with the 26th-man call-ups, but that is not a reflection on his performance or what his future is with the organization. He was a not-totally-unexpected selection for an emergency arm and can now return to his steady climb through the system that has been interrupted only by 2013 Tommy John surgery. He has spent his baseball career surprising people since making the Tennessee-Martin team in college as a walk-on. Throwing a mix of four pitches including a fastball that has gained several MPH since college, he knows how to mix those pitches and couples that knowledge with remarkable control and command: He’s combined to throw 308.2 IP in the minors, striking out 299 and walking only 60 coming into his big league debut. That is not a typo. In 2015 at Wilmington (High A), he went 7-7 with a 3.02 ERA in 21 starts, striking out 11 and walking 14 in 113.1 IP, with similarly eye-opening ratios every season before that.
ACQUIRED: Signed as a minor league free agent January 26, 2016. Originally drafted by the Nationals in the third round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Texas Christian University).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 0-0 with a 2.30 ERA in 10 games started at Charlotte (Triple-A), striking out 14 and walking eight while allowing 16 hits in 15.2 IP.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Charlotte on May 13 when RHP Scott Carroll was sent down and LHP John Danks was released.
DEBUT: May 20, in a 4-1 loss to the Royals. The last of three pitchers, he worked 1.1 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out one. Coming on with two outs in the eighth inning in relief of Zach Putnam, Purke surrendered a single to center to the first batter he faced, Salvador Perez before striking out Alex Gordon swinging to end the inning. In the ninth, the first batter, Cheslor Cuthbert, reached on an error. After Omar Infante flew out, Paulo Orlando singled to left. However, Alcides Escobar grounded out and Lorenzo Cain lined out to end the threat.
PLAYER NOTES: After waiting eight days to finally get the call into a game, Purke tossed a scoreless debut and that somehow seems to mirror what has been a ride to the bigs filled with similar highs and lows. While we use the term “originally drafted” in our “Acquired” section to reflect how the player started his pro career, it’s certainly worth noting that, in fact, Matt Purke had been drafted before that. He was ‘originally-originally’ selected by his home state Texas Rangers in the first round of the 2009 draft (14th overall) out of Klein High School, but did not sign and instead headed to college, where he pitched two seasons before re-entering the draft (because of age rules, he was draft-eligible after his sophomore season at TCU). One of the top high school pitchers in the state of Texas, posting a 12-1 record and an 0.37 ERA as a junior and a 4-2 record and 1.18 ERA as a senior (to go with a 4.5 GPA), he continued to dominate on the mound as a freshman at TCU, going 16-0 with s 3.02 ERA and 5-1 with a 1.71 as a sophomore. However, due to injuries (including shoulder surgery after the 2012 season and Tommy John surgery in 2014), he had pretty much fallen off of every prospect list by 2016 when the White Sox took a chance on him. He’d posted a composite 4.62 ERA in four-plus minor league seasons (he did not pitch at all in 2011 after being drafted by the Nationals), most recently climbing through three levels of Class A, High A and Double-A with the Nationals in 2015 to post a 4.36 ERA in 20 games, allowing 72 hits in 64 combined innings.
ACQUIRED: Traded from the Tigers on December 9, 2015, with RHP Luis Cessa for LHP Justin Wilson. Originally drafted by the Tigers in the 11th round of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Louisville).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 2-3 with a 1.22 ERA in seven starts at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A), striking out 36 while walking 12 and allowing 29 hits in 37 innings.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre May 14 along with RHP Conor Mullee when RHP Luis Severino went on the 15-day DL and C Gary Sanchez was sent down.
DEBUT: May 16, in a 12-2 loss to the Diamondbacks. The starting pitcher, he tossed four-plus innings, facing four batters in the fifth without getting an out, allowing six runs, four of them earned, on eight hits, and walking one while striking out four. He was also 0-for-2 at the plate, since his debut came on the road in an interleague game against a National League team. After striking out the first big league batter he faced, Jean Segura, swinging, he gave up his first run with two outs in the inning on a solo homer to left field by Paul Goldschmidt. A second run came across in the second inning when catcher Chris Herrmann singled to center to lead things off, stole second and, after moving to third on a ground out, scored on a two-out double by Segura. Green got out of the next two innings unscored upon before the Diamondbacks put five runs on the board in the five, four of them coming at Green’s expense. After Michael Bourn opened the inning off by reaching on an error by Yankees third baseman Mark Teixeira, Goldschmidt drew a walk to set the stage for Jake Lamb’s three-run homer to right-center field. The next batter, Yasmany Tomas, doubled which marked the end of Green’s night on the mound but didn’t close his stat line. Reliever Nick Goody came on and after getting Brandon Drury to line out to third base, moving Tomas to third, Herrman delivered a sacrifice fly to center field to close the book.
PLAYER NOTES: Green, like his teammate and co-debutante of the night Conor Mullee, was sent back down the next day but his blazing hot start in the Railriders’ rotation made him a safe bet for the honor of getting the call for this start. Though neither pitcher landed on most preseason top prospect lists, Green has definitely been opening eyes in the International League this spring in his first season at Triple-A with the Yankees. In 2015, he went 5-14 with a 3.93 ERA at Erie (Double-A/Tigers), striking out 137 while walking 43 and giving up 170 hits in 148 2/3 innings over 27 starts. A converted reliever, he spent his first full season as a starter in 2014 at West Michigan (Class A), going 6-4 with a 3.11 ERA in 23 starts and striking out 125 while walking just 28 and allowing 121 hits in 130.1 IP.
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the 24th round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft (St. Peter’s College).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in 12 games of relief between Trenton (Double-A) and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A), striking out 25 while walking five and allowing 13 hits in 19 innings.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre May 14 along with RHP Chad Green when RHP Luis Severino went on the 15-day DL and C Gary Sanchez was sent down.
DEBUT: May 16, in a 12-2 loss to the Diamondbacks. The third of four pitchers on the night, he allowed one earned run without giving up a hit in one inning, walking three and striking out one. Coming on to start the sixth inning, Mullee walked the first batter he faced, Michael Bourn, before striking out Paul Goldschmidt. Jake Lamb followed by drawing a walk and Yasmany Tomas grounded out to force Lamb at second, putting runners at the corners. Mullee then hit Brandon Drury with a pitch to load the bases before issuing his third walk of the night to Chris Herrmann, driving in a run. He avoided further damage by getting Nick Ahmed to ground out to end the inning.
PLAYER NOTES: Mullee comes off a 2015 campaign in which he made three stops — Tampa (High A), Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre — and combining to go 4-4 with a 2.91 ERA with 56 strikeouts and 16 walks in 58.2 IP over 36 games. That was on the heels of a 2014 season where he went 3-1 with a 1.40 ERA in 21 games between Staten Island (Short Season A) and Charleston (Class A), striking out 37 batters and walking 13 while scattering 23 hits in 3.2 IP. Sounds like a whirlwind route to the bigs, doesn’t it? Those numbers would look good even before you knew that it was the first time he’d put together back-to-back healthy seasons since starting his pro career. Mullee is one of the feel-good stories of the early 2016 season. He started his baseball life as an infielder but was moved to the mound because of his impressive arm. However, that arm has been both a blessing and a concern, as he’s undergone three operations on it since 2011, including Tommy John surgery and then, after breaking the arm five innings into his return in 2012 (details are too gruesome to reprint here), he underwent two more surgeries to repair the damage. He didn’t pitch at all in either 2011 or 2013. Most mortals would have hung it up and gone on to the next stage of life. Mullee, not even a non-roster invitee to the Yankees’ camp this past spring, made it to the majors after his torrid start to the 2016 season, moving from Trenton to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to the Yankees’ bullpen. And frankly if you can’t root for someone like that (even if you’re not a Yankees fan), well, you’re just cold-hearted.
National League Debuts
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the second round of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft (University of Arkansas).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: .238 in 33 games at Las Vegas (Triple-A) with two homers, 10 RBIs and four steals.
PROMOTED: Recalled from Las Vegas May 17 when LHP Sean Gilmartin was sent down.
DEBUT: May 17, in a 2-0 win against the Nationals. The starting third baseman, he batted ninth and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. In his first at-bat in the second inning he struck out against Nats starter Max Scherzer, then lined out to right field in his next at-bat and, finally, grounded out softly to third base in his final at-bat.
PLAYER NOTES: Reynolds has no need to hang his head about going hitless in his debut since in the pitchers’ duel between Max Scherzer and Mets ace Noah Syndergaard the two teams only combined for nine hits total. He spent most of 2015 at Vegas (along with three games in the Gulf Coast League), hitting .267 with six homers, 65 RBIs and 13 steals along with 32 doubles. In 2014, he combined to hit .343 between Binghamton (Double-A) and Vegas, adding six homers, 61 RBIs and 20 steals and more notably raising his average more than 100 points from 2013, when he had batted just .225 with five homers and 49 RBIs between St. Lucie (High A) and Binghamton.
ACQUIRED: Signed as an international free agent (Colombia) December 18, 2009
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 11 games out of the bullpen at El Paso (Triple-A), striking out 11 while walking seven and giving up seven hits in 10 IP.
PROMOTED: Recalled from El Paso May 15 when RHP Leonel Campos was sent down.
DEBUT: May 17, in a 5-1 loss to the Giants. The last of three pitchers, he allowed one run on three hits, walking one in two innings of work. Coming on to start the eighth inning with the Padres down 4-0, he got the first big league batter he faced, Buster Posey, to fly out and Brandon Belt to ground out before allowing his first hit, a single to left by Hunter Pence. Brandon Crawford followed with an RBI double before being thrown out at third to end the inning. Guerrero pitched a scoreless ninth despite walking the pitcher, Madison Bumgarner, to lead things off. After Angel Pagan flew out, Denard Span singled to put two on with no outs but Guerrero got Joe Panik to ground out and Matt Duffy to fly out to end the game.
PLAYER NOTES: Guerrero, who was sent back down to the minors the day after his debut, brings the heat with a fastball that sits in the high 90s and has touched triple digits. He adds to that arsenal a potentially plus slider, but delivery issues have kept him from being able to consistently harness his command. If he can continue to work on that, he should be back in the bigs for a while. His numbers in the past have been impressive. In 2015 he combined between El Paso and San Antonio (Double-A) for a 3.05 ERA in 48 games with 14 saves, fanning 61 in 56 innings while walking 31 and allowing 41 hits. It was his 2014 campaign that really put him on the map when he went 6-1 with a 1.46 ERA between the Padres’ two Class A affiliates at Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore, striking out 56 and walking 20 while scattering 32 hits in 49.1 IP in his first full season. His career 3.92 ERA in six-plus seasons includes a 7.33 ERA in 50.1 IP in the rookie league as he got his bearings.
ACQUIRED: Signed as a minor league free agent January 9, 2015. Originally signed by the Rangers as an international free agent (Venezuela) on July 10, 2006.
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 3-4 with a 2.48 ERA in seven games started at Indianapolis (Triple-A), striking out 31 while walking just four and allowing 39 hits in 40 innings.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Indianapolis May 19 when LHP Cory Luebke was sent down and C Elias Dias was moved from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL.
DEBUT: May 19, in an 8-2 win against the Braves. The last of two pitchers, he came on in the eighth in relief of starter Jeff Locke and allowed one hit over two hitless innings, striking out two. In the eighth inning, he got the first batter he faced, Nick Markakis, to line out to third, after which Freddie Freeman grounded out and Jeff Francoeur struck out swinging. In the ninth, Boscan struck Tyler Flowers out swinging before giving up his lone hit, a soft single to right by Gordon Beckham. He was left on the bases when Daniel Castro grounded out to second base and Kelly Johnson flew out to end the game. Out of 28 pitches thrown, 23 were for strikes.
PLAYER NOTES: In a week filled with some pretty awesome debut stories, that of Boscan ranks right near the top. Talk about someone who had that carrot dangled SO close SO many times, only to keep having it snatched away. Last summer, his ninth pro season, and first with the Pirates, Boscan was called up to the majors three times — three times, people! — without ever getting into a game. Already on the club’s 40-man roster, he was recalled from Indianapolis on May 16 but sent back down May 19 without getting into a game. Then he was called up again on July 12 and sent back down on July 13 without an appearance. Finally, he was called up July 19 and sent back down July 22. Still no debut. Then, to add insult to injury, he was designated for assignment on August 7 and cleared waivers August 12. Yet Boscan stuck with the Pirates and they stuck with him, as he became a minor league free agent on October 20 and re-upped with Pittsburgh on December 7, 2015. This time, when they brought him up to the big leagues for the fourth time, they made sure to get him into a game that very night and he did not disappoint. It’s been a long road for Boscan, who signed with the Texas Rangers back in 2006 as a 16-year-old out of Maracaibo, Venezuela. His journey took him through the Rangers, Padres and Red Sox systems before he signed with the Pirates. Boscan brought a fine 3.92 minor league ERA in all or parts of 10 seasons into his big league debut, working primarily but not exclusively as a starter in the minors.
ACQUIRED: Signed as an international free agent (Dominican Republic) on July 14, 2009.
CURRENT SEASON STATS: Hitting .288 in 27 games at Indianapolis (Triple-A) with two homers, 10 RBIs, seven stolen bases, three doubles and two triples.
PROMOTED: Recalled from Indianapolis May 16 when OF Starling Marte went on paternity leave.
DEBUT: May 16, in an 8-5 win against the Braves. Pinch-hitting for LHP Jonathon Niese in the sixth inning, he led off the inning striking out swinging against RHP Williams Perez.
PLAYER NOTES: Hanson wouldn’t have to wait too long for his first big league hit, it came the very next night in another win against the Braves, singling in the fifth inning as a pinch-hitter for starter Juan Nicasio. As expected, though, he returned to Indianapolis when new daddy Starling Marte returned from his paternity leave. His versatility in the field is a plus – he started his career as a shortstop but now plays primarily second base, third base and left field. The fastest base runner in the system, he can make things happen and has a solid enough bat to turn singles into doubles, and doubles into triples, which has translated to a .444 career SLG despite not being a true power hitter. The Pirates’ first player this year to debut in the bigs, he is a .284 career hitter who has progressed steadily up the ladder since signing as a 16-year-old. In 2015 at Indianapolis he batted .263 with six homers, 43 RBI and an International League-best 35 steals along with 17 doubles and 12 triples. He’s tallied double digits in triples each of his four full seasons.
2080 NOTES: Hanson checked in at No. 106 on 2080 Baseball’s Preseason Prospect Rankings, where C.J. Wittmann had this to say about him: “Hanson has been around prospect circles for a few years, and improved each year. He could have an average hit tool and has shown he can really run. He possesses up-the-middle defensive profile, most likely at second base, bringing some offensive value to the position.”
ACQUIRED: Signed as a minor league free agent November 25, 2015. Originally signed as an international free agent (Colombia) by the Astros on October 5, 2005.
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in 12 games for Louisville (Triple-A), striking out seven and walking four while allowing 13 hits in 14.1 IP.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Louisville May 22 when RHPs A.J. Morris and Josh Smith were brought up and RHPs Jumbo Diaz and Keyvius Sampson were sent down and RHP Steve Delabar was designated for assignment.
DEBUT: May 22, in a 5-4 loss to the Mariners. The second of four pitchers, he tossed one inning of one-hit shutout ball, needing only 14 pitchers, eight of them strikes, to retire the side. After opposing pitcher Wade Miley grounded out, Leonys Martin singled to right field but was erased when Norichika Aoki grounded into a 3-6-4 double play.
PLAYER NOTES: Diaz came so close to making his debut earlier this season, battling it out for the last bullpen spot as a non-roster invitee right down to the wire before being reassigned to camp in late March. Now with his fourth organization in 10 pro seasons, he had yet to make his big league debut despite a sparkling 2.04 career ERA with 347 strikeouts and just 251 hits allowed in 344 innings. In 2015, he posted a combined 2.23 ERA in 37 games between Portland (Double-A/Red Sox) and Pawtucket (Triple-A/Red Sox) in 2015, striking out 66 batters and walking 30 while allowing 52 hits in 72.2 IP. Though he missed all but two games from 2009-2010 following Tommy John surgery, he has clearly been very effective when healthy. Signed out of his native Colombia by the Astros, he pitched in Venezuela his first three pro seasons before coming stateside. In 2011 he posted a 1.98 ERA in 19 games at Tri-City (Short-Season A) and then went 5-4 with a 1.85 ERA in 41 games at Lexington (Class A) in 2012, collecting 19 saves and fanning 64 batters in 58.1 IP before becoming a minor league free agent at the end of the season. He was signed by the Cubs, with whom he spent the 2013 campaign, before latching on with the Red Sox that winter and remaining with them until regaining his free agency this past November.
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the 33rd round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft (University of Arizona).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: .275 at Louisville (Triple-A) with one homer, 11 RBIs and one steal along with 10 doubles.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Louisville May 20 when RHP Tim Adleman went on the DL.
DEBUT: May 20, in an 8-3 loss to the Mariners. Pinch-hitting for starting pitcher Dan Strailly, he struck out swinging in the sixth inning against Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma.
PLAYER NOTES: Selsky has been a steady player in his climb through the Reds’ system since signing out of Arizona, where he played with his organization-mate and Louisville teammate Seth Mejias-Breen. In 2015 with the Bats, Selsky batted .317 in 51 games, hitting two homers and driving in 29 runs while stealing three bases. In 2014, between Louisville and Pensacola (Double-A), he hit a combined .275 with two homers, 32 RBIs and two steals along with 15 doubles. He doesn’t profile offensively as a full-time outfielder, lacking the key tools of power or speed, but provides a steady bat off the bench if needed.