Tag Archives: Visalia Rawhide

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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Becoming More Than Just a Name in Affiliated Ball – Stewart Ijames

Stewart Ijames (pronounced like the pet food – Iams) has always had a hard time with announcers and fans alike saying his last name. He’s heard it all, but it doesn’t even phase him anymore. After finally getting his shot at affiliated baseball with the Arizona Diamondbacks, he hopes to never have that problem again.

Following a successful high school baseball career, Ijames was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 46th round of the 2007 MLB Draft but opted to continue his playing career with the University of Louisville.  After a shoulder injury forced him to sit out the 2009 season, he came back strong in 2010 and was once again selected in the MLB Draft; this time by the New York Yankees in the 29th round.  Once again, Ijames decided to turn down the offer and return to Louisville leaving many questioning his decision.

“I’ve been asked numerous times why I didn’t sign out of high school or college. Turning down more money than most people are offered wasn’t an easy decision but one that I made,” said Ijames. “I just didn’t think I was ready. It wasn’t my time yet.”

Despite a solid four years and .292 career batting average, Ijames went undrafted following his senior season in 2012. He then began to look towards independent ball to keep his dream alive. He signed his first professional contract with the Washington Wild Things for the 2013 season and never looked back.

“Indy ball allowed me to see just how bad I wanted it compared to others.  I would get ridiculed and made fun of on a daily basis because I went to the gym every day before games. I didn’t care though.  I made it known from day one that I was here to get out and was not content on being here for the rest of my career” Ijames explained.

“Mentally though, it was awesome. It was a lot more laid back.  If you wanted to do extra work, you did it.  If you wanted to get better, you did it.”

Ijames became a breakout star with the Wild Things –  playing in 90 of 96 games, batting .297 with 16 HR and 45 RBI, while earning a spot on the mid-season All-Star team.

He returned to Washington in 2014, but he wouldn’t end the season there. In just 50 games, Ijames had already collected 15 HR and 45 RBI with a .319 batting average. He was once again named as an All-Star and was a Home Run Derby participant before he caught the eye of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“I took advantage of every day that I was there, and that was what made the difference for me. I was able to continue to get better in a place where people are content with ending their career. I didn’t want to end it there.”

Ijames signed his first affiliated contract with the Diamondbacks on July 18th. After just five games with their Arizona League rookie team, he was sent to their rookie affiliate in Montana, the Missoula Osprey.  In 30 games, Ijames batted .327 with 12 HRs before he was promoted to the Class-A Hillsboro Hops. He played in two regular season and four post season games with the Hops, helping the team win the Northwest League championship.

After the season ended in the states, Ijames wasn’t done just yet. He traveled to Colombia to play winter ball with the Leones De Monteria. For the second time in 2014, he was named to a mid-season All-Star team and participated in the Home Run Derby. After a rough start to the season, the Leones went on to win the LCBP (Liga Colombiana de Béisbol Profesional) championship and represented Colombia in the Latin American Series, which they also won, held in Panama.

“Winter ball was a unique experience for me. I enjoy going to the gym, and I like having the weights, the mirrors, and the music. But it was good to see people finding ways to get better with just stuff that they had – taking cleats, gloves, or bricks, hanging them from a string and attaching the string to a bat to do forearms or running and jumping up and down the stairs.  It just gave me a new perspective on how other people want to get better using only the materials they had available.”

Ijames has a couple of weeks off from baseball before traveling to his first spring training with the Diamondbacks organization where he’s looking to do what he’s always done and make the most of yet another opportunity.

“My goals with spring training are the same as any day that I show up to the ball park – Have fun, enjoy what I do, and do it with a smile. That has seemed to be the difference maker for my abilities. Work hard and enjoy it. Keep playing without pressure, relax and understand that baseball at my age is a privilege.

“With that being said, I’ll probably go to spring training ready to soak it in as much as I can because spring training is what makes this whole dream I started a reality, from indy ball to affiliated.  As a kid, I dreamed of this and fell asleep thinking about being a professional baseball player. Spring training with be the solidification to know that it is now a reality. The chase to my dreams is now in reach.”

 Work hard, play well and keep grinding, and eventually everyone will know your name.

Ijames is projected to begin the season with the High-A Visalia Rawhide but could move up quickly due to his age and hitting ability.