Baseball season is underway and Minor League Baseball kicks off this week with a handful of Olympia area athletes in action. Four locals are playing and one is managing in affiliated Minor League ball while two are representing the area in the independent leagues.
Stephen Vogt – C – Sacramento River Cats (AAA): The Visalia, California native and Azusa Pacific graduate who now winters in the Olympia area was one of the last cuts from the Major League roster and will start the season in triple-A Sacramento.
“That was maybe the most difficult one I’ve ever had to do,” A’s manager Bob Melvin told the San Jose Mercury News. “What he’s meant to this team in the time he’s been here. Come into spring trying to make a team, proving that he belongs here, and he did. That’s a tough one on everybody.”
Vogt appeared in 47 games for the A’s last season and hit .252 with four home runs and 16 RBIs and started all five American League Division Series games against the Detroit Tigers and collected the game winning hit in game two that led to this celebration…
Vogt hit .324 with 13 homers and 58 RBIs in Sacramento last season. If either of the A’s catchers – John Jason and Derek Norris – goes down with an injury, Vogt will be back up in Oakland. If he is not called up by then, Vogt and the River Cats visit Tacoma for four games starting on April 19th.
Adam Conley – P – New Orleans Zephyrs (AAA): The Olympia High School alum and 2011 second round pick of the Miami Marlins continues to rise the Marlins ladder and will start the season at triple-A New Orleans.
Conley, Baseball America’s #8 prospect in the Miami organization, is in his third full season in the minors and third season as a starting pitcher and will look to improve upon his outstanding season at double-A Jacksonville where he went 11-7 with a 3.25 ERA and 129 strikeouts.
If he continues to pitch strong in triple-A, expect Conley to get a mid-season call up and opportunity to start games for the Marlins. Miami has a talented and young but unproven rotation in Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, Jacob Turner and Tom Koehler and if one of them falters, Conley could be the first called upon to replace them.
Kramer Champlin – P – Dunedin Blue Jays (A): Olympia High School’s other representative in the minors, Champlin moves up from the low-A Midwest League to high-A Florida State League and the Dunedin Blue Jays.
Champlin had a breakout season in relief for Lansing last season. The 33rd round draft pick out of Arizona State went 6-4 with a 3.67 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 81 innings and was one out away from a seven inning perfect game in a spot start in June that was broken up with just one out to go.
Champlin earned a promotion to Dunedin but gave up 14 runs, eight earned in three games and was sent back to Lansing.
Seth Harvey – P – Milwaukee Brewers Org.: Harvey had Tommy John surgery in May and is currently rehabbing and hopes to be back pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers organization one year later, middle to late May.
The 26 year-old River Ridge alum earned 10 saves in 16 appearances for the high-A Brevard County Manatees before he was injured.
Jared Sandberg – Mgr. – Charlotte Stone Crabs (A): Capital graduate, former Major Leaguer and Sandberg Baseball Club owner Jared Sandberg returns to the Tampa Bay organization for his sixth season as a coach and will move up to the high-A Charlotte Stone Crabs after spending 2013 with the Bowling Green Hot Rods.
Sandberg, 36, spent three seasons as the manager of the short season Hudson Valley Renegades and won a New York-Penn League championship in 2012. He picked up his 200th career managerial win last season and has compiled a 246-186 record in stints with Princeton, Hudson Valley and Bowling Green.
Joash Brodin – 1B – Long Island Ducks (Ind.): North Thurston’s Joash Brodin got a brief chance with the Arizona Diamondbacks last season appearing in a handful of games for the Visalia Rawhide at the end of the season but was released by the organization during Spring Training this year. While that may be bad news, Brodin was welcomed back with open arms by the independent Long Island Ducks, one of the most successful independent teams in the nation.
The 27 year-old from the College of Charleston first joined the Ducks in 2012 after his team, the London Rippers of the Frontier League, folded mid-season. Brodin was tearing up the Frontier League at the time hitting .370 with 11 homers and 49 runs scored in 59 games and continued his outstanding season at Long Island leading the Ducks to the Atlantic League championship with a .359 average in the playoffs. Last season, he hit .307 with 11 home runs, 48 RBIs and 79 runs scored before signing with Arizona.
The Atlantic League season starts on April 25th.
Nate O’Bryan – P – Traverse City (Ind.): O’Bryan, an Olympia High School and Saint Martin’s grad, is heading to Michigan’s #1 resort town, Traverse City, for his second season in the independent Frontier League.
O’Bryan was a workhorse in relief for the Rockford Aviators last season when he pitched in 35 games, second most on the team, posting a 1-1 record.
The Beach Bums and O’Bryan open the 2014 season on May 16th against the Gateway Grizzlies in Sauget, Illinois.