Around the League

Hill, Jannis Missing Playoffs But Plenty of Star Power Remains

Former LI Duck Mickey Jannis

Rich Hill will not be there for the playoffs.  Neither will Mickey Jannis.  All have brought bonus attention to the Atlantic League this season.  But one of the special aspects of this star-studded circuit finishing up its 18th season is the depth of personalities.

One hundred other Atlantic League players will be battling with all of the energy they can muster to have champagne poured over them and to hoist the championship trophy in the early days of October.  Here are a few snapshots.

Long Island, the wild card entry among the four contenders, has its leader back.  Former major league outfielder Lew Ford, the league's MVP last season, spent much of July, all of August and the early days of this month playing in the Mexican League, but he was keeping up with the Ducks.

"I was checking on them every day and kept in contact with GM Mike Pfaff to see how everything was going," Ford, 39, told Newsday.  "I was hoping we'd have a chance to make the playoffs.  We've done it before.  We have guys on this team that have won before. I have a lot of confidence."

Regular season powerhouse Somerset, the only team to win its division in both the halves of the split season, has among its talented cast infielder Matt Fields.  After being released by Arizona in July, he needed to find his passion for the game again in order to contribute.

“It was a battle with myself,” he told “I talked to my family, my wife and people that are truly important and special to me, and they were just like, ‘Hey, you’re 30 years old, so you’re still young. You’re talented, you’ve still got what it takes, so don’t give up on your dreams.’"

Brian Burres, whose first major league victory came at fabled Fenway Park for Baltimore eight years ago, is part of the hopeful scene at Southern Maryland.   

“The level of play is high (in the league),” Burres told The Portland Tribune in his home state Oregon.  His goal:  “Honestly, it is to win. I think everyone on the team has the same goal."

Manager Stan Cliburn, who led Southern Maryland to a first-half title, believes in the 34-year-old.   “We call him our leader in the clubhouse,” he told the newspaper “He brings a lot of leadership.  He is first-class.  He is a big leaguer all of the way.  He just has that aura about him. He is the spokesman of the clubhouse. The younger players ask him for advice, and he is always positive.”

Lancaster bounced back from an unexpectedly slow first half to dominate the Freedom Division for the last 70 games with the likes of veteran Scott Patterson lending a hand.  The first Barnstormer to reach the major leagues (New York Yankees, 2008) did not walk a single batter from July 18 until the next-to-last day of the regular season.

Will it be one of these players or someone else out of the other 96 who cements the title?  Stay tuned.

Red Sox Brass Praise Rich Hill

Rich Hill was lavished with praise and even got himself into the Boston Red Sox record book in his second major league start following his meteoric rise through Long Island and Triple-A Pawtucket.  He became the first Red Sox hurler to strike out 10 in each of his first two starts with the club and one of four this decade (Pedro Martinez, Jon Lester, Felix Doubront) to reach double digits in back-to-back games.  Hill won his first major league game as a starter since '09 when he limited hard-hitting Toronto to three runs (seven hits) in seven innings.  Boston won, 4-3.

"I guess my expectations were just based on what people were telling me--that he was throwing better than anyone at Triple-A in our rotation," president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told  "We needed someone to go out there that could keep us in the game and give us a chance to win.  That's what the expectations were and of course he's far exceeded that the couple of times he's gone out there.  It's tremendous."  Interim manager Torey Lovullo added:  "It's been a tremendous lift.  And exactly what we needed."

Former LI Duck Mickey Jannis Invited to Arizona Fall League

Knuckleball-throwing Mickey Jannis started the season by posting a 6-2 record with a 1.18 earned run average and allowing only 53 hits in 83.2 innings for Long Island and finished in the New York Mets farm system.  Now he has been invited to hurl in the Arizona Fall League, which is generally only limited to players considered to have decent major league potential.

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