*NOTE* This is the fourth of a multi-part series that recaps the 2015 season of Cougars baseball with news on former and current Cougars players throughout Minor League and Major League Baseball. This fourth part provides updates on many of our alumni who aren’t currently with a Major League farm system that was previously affiliated with the Cougars.
Part One – Cougars 2015 Season Recap
Part Two – 2015 Season Recap on Cubs Minor Leaguers who played at Kane County in 2013-14
Part Three – 2015 Season Recap on Athletics/Royals Minor Leaguers who played at Kane County
So far, we’ve covered this year’s Cougars team, which was our first season as a Major League affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Subsequent blog posts have highlighted former Cougars who are currently in the minor leagues, but are associated with our previous big league affiliations – Cubs (2013-14), Kansas City Royals (2011-12) and Oakland Athletics (2003-2010).
Players bounce around the big leagues and it’s no exception in the minor leagues as former Cougars have latched on with other Major League teams’ farm systems. We’ll take a look at some of these players who are still active.
One of the most fascinating stories continues to be former Cougar Jeremy Barfield (’09), who was an All-Star outfielder with us. Barfield advanced as high as Triple-A Sacramento in 2013, but his offensive numbers began to wane a bit. He made the decision to transition from outfield to pitcher entering the 2014 season and had modest success at Class-A Advanced Stockton in 2014.
A free agent following last season, Barfield’s journey continued – and only got stranger. His 2015 campaign, with a return back to the outfield from pitcher’s mound, included stops in the Mexican League, multiple independent league teams and eventually, a minor league deal with the Colorado Rockies. He eventually returned to the Triple-A level this summer, batting .267 in 42 games at Albuquerque.
Barfield is an easy guy to pull for. In addition to his determination in attempting to reach the major leagues, he’s a great follow on Twitter – @barfonthefield. Yes, that is the actual twitter handle. We really enjoyed having him here in 2009.
A teammate of Barfield’s in 2009, pitcher Shawn Haviland spent the ’15 season between the White Sox and Red Sox Triple-A affiliates and appeared in 25 games.
Andrew Triggs (’12) was lights-out in the bullpen at Double-A Bowie, a Baltimore Orioles affiliate. Triggs posted a sparkling 1.03 ERA in 43 appearances out of the bullpen.
Outfielder Corey Brown (’08) is four years removed from making his big league debut in 2011 with Washington and Brown is still at it, mainly from the Triple-A level. He’s appeared in a total of 39 games over parts of four seasons in the bigs. This past season, Brown was stationed at Triple-A Durham (Tampa Bay Rays) where he batted .243 with 19 home runs and 60 RBI. Brown has more than 150 home runs in his minor league career.
Outfielder Michael Choice (’10), who briefly appeared with us in the 2010 postseason, played in just one big league game this past season with Texas. He spent most of the season at Triple-A, splitting time between Round Rock and then the Columbus Clippers, the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A affiliate. With the Clippers, Choice batted just .204 in 14 games.
One player to keep tabs on is infielder Marco Hernandez (’13), who batted .271 in 46 games at Triple-A Pawtucket (Boston Red Sox) after being promoted from Double-A earlier in the season.
Infielder Dean Espy (’12) batted .206 in 79 games at Double-A New Britain (Colorado Rockies). Outfielder Brian Fletcher (’11) batted .234 in 75 games at Double-A Birmingham (Chicago White Sox). Catcher Juan Graterol (’12) advanced as high as Triple-A with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (New York Yankees), appearing in 20 games. Graterol was teammates with infielder Gregorio Petit (’05), who also appeared in 20 games with the Yankees at the big league level.
Outfielder Trevor Gretzky (’13) played in 78 games with Class-A Burlington (Los Angeles Angels) in the Midwest League.
Outfielder Javier Herrera (’05) played in 34 games at Double-A Richmond (San Francisco). Catcher Chadd Krist (’13) advanced as high as Double-A Jacksonville in the Miami Marlins farm system.
Remember Justin Sellers? The ’06 Cougar made his big league debut in 2011 and split his season between Triple-A teams Charlotte (Chicago White Sox) and Indianapolis (Pittsburgh).
Jemile Weeks (’08), another former Cougar who first reached the big leagues in 2011, did appear in 3 games with Boston but spent much of the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, batting .204 in 70 games. A teammate of Weeks’ in 2008, pitcher Carlos Hernandez alternated between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Albuquerque.
A fan favorite from 2013, Rock Shoulders spent most of his ’15 season at Class-A Hickory (Texas Rangers), where he batted .169 in 46 games.
There are several pitchers from our two-year run as a Cubs affiliate who are now with different teams. Justin Amlung (’13-’14) advanced as high as Class-A Advanced Potomac (Washington), Jose Arias (’13-’14) pitched in 7 games at Class-A Greensboro (Miami) while Tyler Bremer (’14) made stops at Triple-A New Orleans, Double-A Jacksonville and Class-A Advanced Jupiter in the Marlins farm system. Most of Bremer’s 2015 season was at Jupiter, where he posted a 1.84 ERA in 32 appearances. Lendy Castillo (’13) spent a majority of his ’15 season at Double-A Frisco (Texas), going 2-2 in 19 relief appearances. Castillo, if you remember, was part of the ’13 Cougars and actually reached the major leagues in 2012 with the Cubs. Ian Dickson (’13) went 3-3 with a 3.60 ERA at A-Advanced Potomac (Washington).
Pitcher Denny Bautista (’01) is still plugging away. After making his big league debut in 2004 with Baltimore, Bautista only pitched in a handful of games between A-Advanced Salem and Class-A Greenville in the Red Sox farm system.
Pitcher Jared Burton (’03) split his season between Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Round Rock.
Going south of the border, pitcher Anthony Capra (’09) made 9 starts at Acereros del Norte in the Mexican League. Also in the Mexican League, pitcher Jose Pina (’10) made 43 appearances wtih Rojos del Aguila de Veracruz and infielder Alex Valdez (’07) batted .256 with 14 home runs and 60 RBI at Delfines de Ciudad del Carmen.
Jake Kuebler (’11) advanced as high as Class-A Advanced St. Lucie (New York Mets), going 4-1 with a 2.39 ERA. You might remember Kuebler as a position player in his Cougars days.
Workhorse Tim Melville (’12) made 27 starts at Triple-A Toledo (Detroit), going 7-10 with a 4.63 ERA.
With the baseball season officially over, our next blog post will recap how our Major League Cougars alumni did in 2015. As is the case every year, the success many of our alumni have at the big league level is really impressive, and 2015 was no exception. Thanks for reading!