Anyone who had ridden a roller coaster should be able to relate to what Independent Baseball veteran Tom Cochran has experienced in recent days.
“I’ve never had a bigger smile on my face,” he told MLB.com last Sunday after the Cincinnati Reds gave the 28-year-old lefty his first call-up to the major leagues. “I jumped out of bed, my wife jumped out of bed. I’ve never had such a good feeling in my life.”
Some buddies from Middle Georgia Junior College got to see Cochran in uniform that day in Atlanta. He also got to experience a home game the next day, but did not pitch either time and the Reds designated him for assignment. The Wilmington, DE resident was awaiting news of the waiver claim Thursday. It would determine whether he would join another organization or return to Louisville, where he has a 5-1 record and a 4.08 ERA for a combination of eight starts and relief appearances.
Cochran, who largely relies on a cutter and changeup, was named the top left-hander in the Southern League (Class AA) last season, two years after a breakout 13-3 campaign at Worcester, MA which earned him the top spot for a southpaw on Baseball America’s all-Independent team. He also has pitched for Lancaster, PA (Atlantic League) and Ohio Valley and Washington, PA (Frontier League).
Cancel Back in Majors, Helps Rookie Hurler
Veteran Indy catcher Robinson Cancel landed back on the national stage this week, getting his first major league opportunity since 2009 when Houston catcher Humberto Quintero injured his ankle and finding himself in the Astros’ lineup because he had caught the team’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Jordan Lyles, who was making his major league debut.
It was quite a debut for the Lyles-Cancel battery, which took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth at the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field. The Cubs got two runs and knocked Lyles out although Houston rallied for a 7-3 win. Cancel’s experience played a hand, though he was 0-for-3 at the plate.
Cancel exceeded his robust weight by hitting .304 with 14 dingers and 81 RBI for the Long Island (NY) Ducks (Atlantic League) last season, then getting signed late in the winter when Houston needed depth at the catching position. The 35-year-old, who had 43 previous major league games spread over 11 seasons with Milwaukee and the New York Mets, had his bat singing at Oklahoma City with a recently-ended 17-game hitting streak and a .457 average for his last 10 Triple-A games. Overall, he hit .324 in 30 games in the Pacific Coast League. Cancel also has played for Somerset, NJ and the Road Warriors in the Atlantic League along with Edinburg, TX before the Roadrunners moved from the United League to the new North American League.
Two Games, Two Teams, Two Sites
New Worcester (MA) Tornadoes Manager Ed Riley is no doubt used to a little chaos in his life since he was the youngest of 16 children. Now 41, the hectic days are at least somewhat self-inflicted since Riley is leading his alma mater, St. Peter-Marian High School, in its tournament play as well as the Can-Am League team.
Thursday’s schedule was typical of recent days. The Tornadoes played a morning game, then St. Peter-Marian was to open state sectional play at 4 p.m. At least, the sites were only a few miles apart, a luxury compared to two recent days when the Tornadoes played in Brockton, MA, and Riley had to travel the 60 miles between towns to manage the next game.
(This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes year round on Independent Baseball. Fans may subscribe at newly reduced rates at WirzandAssociates.com, enjoy his blogs,AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com and IndyBaseballChatter.com, or comment to RWirz@aol.com. The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)