Pair of '15 Atlantic League Lefties Among Five Earning Major League Invitations

Luis Rodriguez, former Bridgeport Bluefish player has been named manager for the 2016 season

By Bob Wirz

Christmas has arrived early for at least four former Atlantic League pitchers and one outfielder.  They have new invitations to major league spring training camps, but that is only part of the story.

For two of the hurlers, Somerset's Buddy Boshers and Dan Runzler of Sugar Land, the invitations to train at baseball's highest level come less than three months after they played their final game (at least for now) in the Atlantic League.  There is no starting out in the minor leagues for relievers Boshers and Runzler.  These left-handers go direct the Minnesota's major league camp since the Twins have a need for more left-handed relief pitching.  They will compete for jobs on the 25-man Opening Day roster.

Outfielder Joe Benson, who played briefly at Sugar Land in July, and right-handed pitchers Jarrett Grube and Greg Burke, whose Atlantic League time dates back a few years, also received invitations from major league teams.

Boshers helped Somerset corral its record sixth Atlantic League championship, striking out 71 hitters in only 54 innings spread over 52 appearances.  He has "a really good breaking ball, which he will even throw 3-0," praised Patriots manager Brett Jodie.  Boshers now has a chance to add to the major league experience he already has with the Los Angeles Angels.

Sugar Land pitching coach Jeff Scott was convinced at season's end that Runzler "belongs in a major league camp" in 2016.  Released by Arizona toward the end of July, the former major leaguer dazzled out of the Skeeters' bullpen, using an excellent slider and curve and hitting the upper 90s on the radar gun.  He had a 0.52 earned run average for his 19 appearances.  He last pitched in the majors for San Francisco in 2012.

Benson, 27, who has bounced around five different major league organizations the last three seasons and played in five games for the Skeeters (4-for-20, one RBI), is returning to the Twins, who drafted him in the second round in 2006 and called him up for 21 games in the '11 season.

Grube, who was with Southern Maryland in 2009 and 2010, re-signed with Cleveland which should not be surprising since the 34-year-old went 9-0 with a 2.26 ERA in 15 games (13 starts) for the Indians' top farm club in Columbus, OH after starting last season in the Mexican League.  He has only one previous major league appearance with the Angels in '14.

Burke started his professional career in the Atlantic League (Atlantic City, NJ) when he came out of Duke University in 2005.  Now 33, he will train in Florida with Philadelphia, hoping to add to his major league resume that already includes 80 relief outings.  He struck out 66 batters in 61.2 innings while posting a 5-1 record with Toronto's top two farm clubs this past season.

Bluefish Skipper Anxious to Get Started

"I'm so emotional now.  I wish it was April."  These were the words of veteran Luis Rodriguez at his introductory media conference as manager of the Bridgeport Bluefish after 22 seasons as a professional player.

The 41-year-old native Venezuelan who now calls Binghamton, NY home has nine championship rings from his days as a catcher, including 2004 with the Long Island Ducks, with No. 10 his clear goal for the future with the Bluefish, for whom he played since '08.  "I want to get it done," he said, explaining he expects to build a team that will start with pitching, then defense.  "Offense will come along, and we shouldn't have mental errors."

Rodriguez confirmed he will not be a playing manager after appearing in 1,749 games since 1994.  "That's a lot of squat", he said with a smile.

Previously the chief spokesman for Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about the Atlantic League and Independent Baseball since 2003.  

Search Archive »

Browse by Year »


Browse by Month »

April 2024
March 2024
February 2024
January 2024
December 2023
November 2023
October 2023
September 2023
August 2023
July 2023
June 2023
May 2023
April 2023
March 2023
February 2023
January 2023
December 2022
November 2022
October 2022
September 2022
August 2022
July 2022
June 2022
May 2022
April 2022
March 2022
February 2022
January 2022
December 2021
November 2021
October 2021
September 2021
August 2021
July 2021
June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
February 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015