Tuesday, March 30, 2010

SIX ATLANTIC LEAGUERS STILL IN HUNT FOR MAJOR LEAGUE JOBS, BUT ONLY TWO APPEAR SET

Five days and counting until the major league season opens with the first real Yankees-Red Sox skirmish of 2010, and we show six former Atlantic League players still in the running for 25-man roster spots. This does not include Jacque Jones (Newark) of Minnesota, who we understand will be with the Twins when they open Target Field Friday night and Saturday with exhibitions against St. Louis but has been told he will not make the Opening Day roster.

We thought lefty reliever Alberto Castillo (Newark, Camden and Road Warriors) would be back in Baltimore where he had a 2.25 ERA in 20 appearances last season, but he was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, VA Tuesday.

Brendan Donnelly (Nashua) appears set with a bullpen job with Pittsburgh where his 29-9 career major league record helps show his experience. Stephen Drew (Camden) will be Arizona's regular shortstop again, and Nelson Figueroa (Long Island) likely has a job on the New York Mets' pitching staff.

Mike Rivera (Atlantic City) remains with the New York Yankees, but indications are Francisco Cervelli will be Jorge Posada's backup which likely means Rivera will be the third catcher on a two-man staff. Rivera's normally solid bat has failed him with his new team, with whom he has only two hits in 16 at-bats (.125). Cervelli is hitting .345 in more extensive playing time.

This leaves the ongoing outfield battle for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as the most intriguing story. Both Cory Aldridge (Newark) and Michael Ryan (Somerset) have drawn praise from Manager Mike Scioscia for their offense and their defense. But neither has a 40-man roster spot at the moment. It could come down to the fact one of the competitors is out of options (which hurts) and another has had a nagging injury (which helps).

Aldridge has the better statistics, hitting .382 (13-for-34) with six extra base hits and three runs batted in. He is second on the team in games played this spring (21). Ryan, with more major league experience, is hitting .290 (9-for-31) in 17 games. He has five extra base hits and seven RBI.

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