Major League vets could help York wrap up playoff berth
Most of them would probably like to be just about anywhere else besides the Atlantic League.
In fact, at a time they were — and at the highest level the game has to offer.
But now, all of them make up a York Revolution roster littered with former Major League talent and they could ultimately be the driving force behind York clinching a first half Freedom Division title and the playoff berth that comes with it.
The players are Jason Repko, Josh Wilson, Micah Owings, Manny Corpas and Jose Arredondo, all guys who spent significant parts of their baseball careers playing in the major leagues. Now, one way or another, they're with the Revs, far from the bright lights of the big leagues, but very much serving important roles in York.
In a league that's filled with guys who never quite made it to the big time or are still young enough and hoping that they'll get their shot with an MLB organization, players like those five are vital for Atlantic League clubs. They add guidance and leadership for the younger players, while also bringing a calming presence in the midst of an uptight time in the season as the Revs try to sew up a playoff spot at the halfway point of the year.
"That's why they're here," York manager Mark Mason said following Sunday's loss to Bridgeport. "Arredondo was two months behind getting here. ...Manny Corpas was somebody that just became available and we wanted to bring him in and take a look at him too."
Corpas and Arredondo are the two latest activations and acquisitions the Revs made this year, with Arredondo originally signed back in spring training, but had visa issues getting to York. But, now that they're here, they bolster an already strong bullpen by adding 578 games of big league experience. Meanwhile, Repko and Wilson have been with the team since spring training and Owings joined the club early into the year.
Anytime an Atlantic League team can add former major league talent, it provides a huge boost to the roster. It's almost like an arms race when it comes to trying to convince a once big-league player to play in the Atlantic League, where pay is little, but opportunity and a significant role are there for the taking.
Mason showed his willingness to compete in said arms race by going out and looking to sign any potential player with a big league past that came on the market. Even when there may not have necessarily been a spot on the team's roster.
Permitted to only carry 25 players on the active roster, once Arredondo and Corpas were activated on Sunday, Mason had to find ways to work around a still very full roster. By this point of an Atlantic League season, teams that are seeing the type of success that the Revs have had start to have some of their own players signed by major league organizations. That just wasn't happening in York.
In fact, up until the last couple days, the Revs had two players signed by other leagues. Both Michael Burgess and Jorge Martinez had their contracts purchased by Mexican League teams earlier in the year. Those came before Corpas and Arredondo were even activated, so those spots were already taken. Now, Burgess is back with York after not cutting it in the Mexican League, creating an even bigger dilemma.
"We're to a point now where I've been watching some guys now for 50-some games and I'm going to need to make some roster moves and clear some roster space here," Mason said back on Sunday. "You'd like to have guys get signed. It makes my life easier and it's good for them, but if guys don't get signed, then I'm going to need to make some moves."
Within a matter of days of Mason saying that, two players did wind up getting signed. Both Isaias Tejeda and Telvin Nash were signed within 24 hours of each other, Tejeda going to the Atlanta Braves organization and Nash to the Chicago White Sox. However, with their signings, the Revs also lost two of their best offensive weapons, with Tejeda hitting .351, second in the Atlantic League, when his contract was purchased and Nash led the league with 15 home runs.
So, with them gone, now, more than ever, is when Mason has to turn to his MLB guys. York has a four-game lead with just 11 games to play in the first half of the regular season, bringing its magic number to clinch a playoff berth down to seven.
But, in the team's first game since both Tejeda and Nash weren't in the lineup on Wednesday night, the Revs managed just two runs, albeit in a 2-1 victory over the Long Island Ducks.
The signings, while good for Tejeda and Nash, came at one of the worst times for York as there's still time for either the Sugar Land Skeeters or Lancaster Barnstormers to put together a run to try and overtake York in the standings.
So, it'll be up to Repko and Wilson to more than pull their own weight in the order and in the field, while Owings, Arredondo and Corpas must exhibit why they spent so much time at the game's highest level.
A playoff berth is on the line once again for the Revs and these are the guys they'll need to lean on to finish the job.
But, these are the type of games why they were brought to York, after all.
Revs prevail in extras over Blue Crabs: An 11th-inning three-run homer by Travis Witherspoon led York to its fourth straight victory, downing Southern Maryland, 12-8, in extra innings.
The home run was the fourth of the game for the Revs (35-25), who have now scored 28 runs during their four-game winning streak.
The four-run 11th also helped York avoid dropping a pivotal game in its quest to lock up the first half Freedom Division title, a game in which it led 8-4 going into the seventh inning. That inning, the Blue Crabs (21-37) scored three times to make it 8-7 and then became the first team to force a blown save out of Revs' closer Mike DeMark when they scored a run in the bottom of the ninth. It was DeMark's first blown save in 20 chances this season.
York got home runs in the contest from Witherspoon, Bryan Pounds, Joel Guzman and Josh Wilson.
With the win, the Revs now hold a four and a half game lead over the Sugar Land Skeeters, who had its game postponed on Thursday night. The Lancaster Barnstormers also lost on Thursday, dropping it five games back of York.
The Revs and Southern Maryland will continue their four-game series on Friday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Regency Furniture Stadium.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com