Roster changes are a way of life in the Atlantic League, and these days much of the news on the transaction wire is reports of players having their contracts picked up by major league organizations such as Somerset ace Mickey Storey going to the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system and Bridgeport infielder Ildemaro Vargas joining the Arizona organization. The beat goes on.
There is the opposite of such joyful news, of course.
That also occurred this week when York released Corey Thurman. He was their all-time winningest pitcher (66-50) and was a brilliant 27-6 in '11-'12 when he was a powerful part of the Revolution's back-to-back league champions. He also was very much a part of the York community.
"I've been doing this for a long time and that's one of the hardest releases I've ever had to do," manager Mark Mason told The York Dispatch. "Corey and I are very close and we've been close for the past five-plus years. It was emotional in here for both of us."
But Thurman is 36, not so young for a baseball player, and in five starts this year he was 1-3 with an 8.23 earned-run average. The right-hander had been with York since 2008, and he ranks first in team history in starts (180), innings pitched (980.1), strikeouts (667) and quality starts (60). In Atlantic League annals, he has the most wins with one team, while sitting in second place in league history in wins, strikeouts and innings pitched. If this proves to be the end of the pitching line for the Georgia native it should be noted Thurman's career covered two decades and included 49 major league appearances with Toronto in '02-'03.
The Well-Traveled Joe Thurston
Another player only slightly younger than Corey Thurman who played for York for a time in 2012 and with Lancaster a year later sits in limbo these days.
Boston signed infielder Joe Thurston for its Double-A team in Portland, ME during the offseason even though he is 35, and the home-state Sacramento Bee reports he is currently a coach with the Sea Dogs but could return to active duty if the team needs him.
The newspaper affectionately calls him "a classic baseball junky" with some justification since it points out he has suited up for 29 teams in 14 leagues plus eight seasons of winter baseball. Thurston has a career average of .226 for 184 major league games.
Ian Thomas Part of Dodgers-Braves Swap
Still one more player who spent some time with York during the second of their championship seasons in 2012 is in the news. Lefty Ian Thomas, who signed with Atlanta after seven appearances with the Revs that season (1-0, 0.96) and climbed up through the farm system to make 21 relief appearances with the parent team the last two years (1-2, 3.94), was part of the multi-player trade between the Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. For now, Thomas, 28, has been assigned to Class AAA Oklahoma City although there have been hints LA wants to take a look at him as a starter.
Also on the Move
Onetime Bridgeport power hitter Brock Peterson, who got a few at-bats with St. Louis two years ago, has been released out of Triple-A by Minnesota...Ildemaro Vargas of the '15 Bluefish, only 23, is now in the Class A Midwest League (Kane County) after Arizona obtained him...Somerset and Atlantic League pitching star Mickey Storey, 4-0, 0.93 with the potent Patriots, had his contract purchased by the Dodgers, who have sent him to Class AA Tulsa, OK...A new teammate in Tulsa is former York, Camden and Sugar Land outfielder Brian Burgamy, enjoying a .315-5-12 season in 38 games.
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. He will be a frequent contributor to this site as well as writing his blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com.