Tag Archives: Alpine Cowboys

Where Are They Now? Player Updates

Recently, a follower of this site sent me an email asking if I could provide an update about how some of the players I had previously covered are doing.

As the halfway mark of the season has approached, here are the updates of 18 players that I have covered on Indy Ball Island. (Clicking their names will take you to their original articles.)

John Holdzkom – In my very first blog post, I remarked that John Holdzkom’s story was the reason I wanted to start this website. John is currently on the DL for the second time this year. He has spent the entire season with the Pirates Triple A team, the Indianapolis Indians. After getting off to a rough start, he is 2-0 on the season with a 3.38 ERA and 27 Ks in 21.1 IP.

indyholdzkom

(Mark Dickhaus)

Matt Sergey – Another personal post I made early on was covering Matt Sergey’s perfect game for the Washington Wild Things. Matt is back with the Wild Things for the 2015 season. In 9 starts, he is 3-3 with a 2.33 ERA. He has already passed his career-high professionally for innings pitched (54) and has 59 Ks.

Chris Peacock – After being signed in the offseason by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Peacock was released and then returned to the American Association, this time with the St. Paul Saints. He has a 1.59 ERA with a 1-0 record in 11 games.

Three of the players that I covered from the Pecos League TV show are playing this season :

Tony Smith – Tony was traded right before the season started from the Schaumburg Boomers of the Frontier League to the Winnipeg Goldeyes in the American Association.  He is 2-1 with a 3.41 ERA in 16 games (2 of which were starts).  He has 33 K in 37 IP.

Sam DiMatteo – Sam is playing with the Old Orchard Beach Surge of the newly formed North Country Baseball League.  He is batting .344 in 23 games (102 plate appearances).  He also has 2 HR, 16 RBI and 9 stolen bases.

Jacob Fabry – Jacob is once again teammates with Sam and has been playing on the Surge as well. He is batting . 296 in 26 games (129 plate appearances).  He has contributed 12 RBI and stolen 8 bases so far this season.

sam and jacob

(Sam DiMatteo. Sam took a ball off his ankle.. he’ll be okay!)

Tim Henry – Another one of the Pecos League stories, Tim is back with the Alpine Cowboys in the Pecos League for the 2015 season. In 42 games (118 AB), he has a .246 average with 2 HR and 21 RBI.

Omar Artsen – Omar was signed by the Miami Marlins out of the Pecos League last year; However he was eventually released by the Marlins organization.  He then went to the American Association and played 2 games with the Winnipeg Goldeyes going 1-7 at the plate.  After being released from the Goldeyes, he played for the Garden State Grays in the Can-Am league for only 3 games with 1 H in 8 AB.

Brandon Cunniff – After earning his second chance at affiliated ball with the Braves, Brandon never looked back. This year, Brandon started the season in the bullpen for the Atlanta Braves. He set an Atlanta rookie record when he didn’t allowed a hit in four relief appearances (four innings) to start his major league career. Brandon has a 2-2 record, 4.23 ERA and 30 K in 30 games with the big league club. At one point in the season, he was sent to AAA Gwinnett where he has a 1-0 record in 3 games. He has since returned to the big league club but is currently on the major league 15 day DL for a groin strain.

brandon-cunniff-braves-pic

(emspeedtraining.com)

Javy Marticorena – Javy achieved his dream of landing on Indy Ball Island when he signed a contract to play in the Mt Rainier League.  Sadly, the MRPBL folded after just a few weeks, and Javy is back home working hard for another opportunity.

Nick Renault – Nick, like Javy, was caught up in the MRPBL drama, but he still made the most of his few weeks being back in his hometown in Oregon and enjoyed his short stay. He is now back home in Hawaii.

CJ Beatty – CJ used his never give up attitude to bounce back after being released from the White Sox organization at the beginning of the season.  He came back to the Washington Wild Things in the Frontier League and is batting .262 in 42 games with 2 HR and 21 RBI.  CJ will have to use his positive attitude once more to get through another tough situation as he now finds himself on the DL with a quad injury.

CJ

(CJ Beatty)

Al Yevoli – Al was picked up by the Arizona Diamondbacks after the 2015 Frontier League season, but was released during spring training.  Instead of returning to the Wild Things, Al landed a spot with the Wichita Wingnuts in the American Association.  He has a 3-0 record with a 3.67 ERA and 26 K in 26 games (27 IP).

Stewart Ijames – Stewart started the season with the High A Visalia Rawhide for the Arizona Diamondbacks. After batting .267 with 15 HR and 37 RBI in 60 games, he was promoted to the Double A Mobile BayBears. In 14 games (31 AB), he is batting .323 with 1 HR (his first hit in AA) and 7 RBI.

Matt Fields – After being released from the KC Royals organization, Matt was signed by the Diamondbacks and was sent to Double A Mobile BayBears. In 3 games (11AB) so far, he is batting .364 with 1 HR.

mobile

(Matt Fields)

Sean Conroy – After making news as baseball’s first openly gay active player, Sean is still doing well with the Sonoma Stompers of the Pacific Association. He has a 2-1 record with a 0.69 ERA including 24 K in 26 IP in 10 games (2 starts).

Aussie in America updates

Luke Wilkins – Luke is currently 4-2 with a 2.80 ERA starting in 10 games for the Washington Wild Things. He has struck out 35 in 61 IP. His 61 innings pitched are the most on the Wild Things team.

2015-05-21 22.44.41

Ben Lodge – In 37 games (130 AB) with the Frontier Greys, Ben is batting .208 with 8 RBI.

Stay tuned and subscribe for more updates as the season progresses!

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Holding On To A Dream In The Pecos League

Much has been said, especially on this blog, of the harsh realities players can face in the Pecos League. But much more can be said about the guys that are there just trying to live out their dreams.

Life is what you make it. So is the Pecos League.

This is something that 2014 Alpine Cowboy infielder, Tim Henry, knows first hand.  Despite a successful high school and college career, Henry lost focus during his senior year and wasn’t drafted following his graduation from Ithaca college.

He could have completely given up on baseball and continued down the wrong path in life, but he didn’t.

When he received the opportunity to play with the Alpine Cowboys in the Pecos League, he jumped at this second chance.

“I knew what I was getting myself into, which was playing for only $60 a week, but the fact of the matter is that I knew and believed that the opportunity to play professionally in front of passionate fans for the game and for the kids was way greater than how little money I was playing for.

“It’s a matter of what you make of the opportunity and how you see it. I took advantage of it and worked hard. I understood that if I played well and helped the Cowboys win, then I would continue to get more opportunities.”

All around the baseball world, players who thought they would get drafted will be left sitting at home without a phone call. What they do after the disappointment is the true test.

Many, like Henry, see the Pecos League and independent baseball as their chance to get better and prove themselves.

“I don’t want kids to give up on the dream, even if they don’t sign or get drafted,” Henry explained. “Playing independent baseball is an amazing opportunity and so much fun.  You’re playing with a group of guys who don’t play for the money, but play for the love of the game.”

These players live, train, and play with others who have the same dreams and desires. They experience the highs and lows together which creates a bond and “brotherhood” that cannot be broken.  Memories are made and lessons are learned that last a lifetime.

With the Pecos League located in the heart of the southwest: Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to play professional baseball in a beautiful area of the country that the players normally wouldn’t get to see if it wasn’t for the sport.

A lot of players cherish having another platform to showcase their skills and to earn a chance to play at a higher level. The experience a player takes away from independent baseball is entirely up to them.   It can fulfill your biggest dreams, or become your worst nightmare. It’s really depends on the player and his attitude towards the situation.

Henry made the most of his time with the Cowboys. He worked hard, played hard, and thoroughly enjoyed his time in the Pecos League.  He used his experience there to earn a spot on a team in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia this winter and is looking to move up in the independent ranks for the 2015 season.

However, being able to continue playing, training and improving his skills this off season was only one reason that he decided to head “down-under.”  He also wanted the chance to be outdoors and experience all that Australia had to offer. Henry is currently working as a coach, giving lessons to aspiring young Aussies while helping the popularity of the sport grow.  Working with young players has helped him realize that what he has is special.  He doesn’t plan to ever make the same mistakes off the field that had once jeopardized his professional career and the support he has from his family.

The Pecos League isn’t glamorous, but it could be that second chance – that one opportunity to put someone back on the right track.

Henry still has dreams of reaching an affiliated organization and isn’t ready to give it up just yet because he knows what life is like without baseball in it.

“Baseball saved my life because I know that without it, I’d probably be nothing. I’ve had a lot of failures, trials and tribulations in my life, made a lot of mistakes, and it’s baseball that’s honestly really kept me out of trouble.”

Henry was also recently featured in a “Motivational Nuggets” video produced by Chicago White Sox prospect, CJ Beatty.