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Mar '09 25

Europeans in Major League Spring Training

Europeans in the USA Comments Off on Europeans in Major League Spring Training

Now that the 2009 World Baseball Classic is over, we’ll take a look at the European prospects, who participate(d) in Major League Spring Training.

Jair Jurrjens, Atlanta Braves:
The 23-year-old right-hander stayed back in spring training, instead of playing for the Netherlands in the WBC, despite having a spot in the starting rotation of the Braves secured. Jair Jurrjens confirmed his performance from last year so far, going 1-0 with an ERA of 2.66 in five starts for Atlanta this spring. He has struck out twelve batters in 20 1/3 innings (leads team in IP), walking five.

Shairon Martis, Washington Nationals:
The right-hander, who threw a no-hitter in the 2006 WBC, is 21 years old and is battling for a spot in the rotation for the Nationals. Shairon Martis also leads his team in innings pitched this spring with a 1-0 record and a 1.42 ERA in five games (three starts). He has eleven strikeouts (four walks) in 19 innings. Three places in the rotation are filled with John Lannan, Scott Olsen and Daniel Cabrera. Martis fights with prospect Jordan Zimmerman and Colin Balester for the remaining two. However Washington doesn’t need a fifth starter until April 19th, so they might go north with only four starters.

Roger Bernadina, Washington Nationals:
The center fielder is teammates with Martis on the 40-man roster of the Nationals, but his chances to make the cut for opening day are much slimmer. The 24-year-old Roger Bernadina is hitting .259 (OBP .250/SLG .481) with a triple, four doubles, three runs scored and two RBI in 27 at bats over 14 games. With Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes and Adam Dunn set for the outfield, he has to root for a bench role. However Spring Training invitee Corey Patterson, who is a similar, but more proven player, received much more at bats. Additionally Washington needs to find spots for outfielders Austin Kearns, Wily Mo Pena, Josh Willingham and Willie Harris on the roster. There isn’t much room left for Bernadina.

Rick van den Hurk, Florida Marlins:
After returning from the 2009 World Baseball Classic with a 0-1 record, an ERA of 1.69 and four strikeouts (five walks) in 5 1/3 innings over two starts, the 23-year-old right-hander Rick van den Hurk hasn’t pitched again in a Grapefruit League game and probably was optioned down in the minors, though his name wasn’t listed yet in the Marlins transactions. In his only appearance this spring he allowed five runs (4 ER) on two hits and three walks in 1 2/3 innings.

Gregory Halman, Seattle Mariners:
After a tough World Baseball Classic for the Dutch team, where Greg Halman struck out in nine of eleven at-bats, the top prospect in the Mariners organization returned to Arizona and was assigned to the Double-A team on March 19. The 21-year-old appeared in four games for the Mariners this spring, getting two hits in eight at bats. He will start the new season in Tennessee.

Wladimir Balentien, Seattle Mariners:
Halman’s teammate in Seattle, Wladimir Balentien, has the chance to make the opening day roster. Through 43 at bats in 15 games, the 24-year-old is batting .395 (OBP .417/SLG .674) with three homeruns, a triple, a double, six runs scored and nine RBI. After arriving a week late in Spring Training due to issues with his visa, he has to work harder than his opponents for a spot as one of five outfielders on the team. But he is making up for the lost time with his play at the plate and in the field.

Hainley Statia, Los Angeles Angels:
The 23-year-old infielder Hainley Statia, who went hitless in four at bats for the Dutch team at the WBC, didn’t return to Cactus League action following his return from the tournament after the first round, due to the hamstring strain, which he suffered in game two against Puerto Rico. He had three hits, including two doubles, in nine at bats for the Angels, before leaving for the WBC. He will start the new season in the Minors, probably in Double-A.

Andruw Jones, Texas Rangers:
The veteran outfielder Andruw Jones, who has struggled the past two years, has indicated in recent days that he would accept a reduced role with his new club, trying to save his career in the big leagues. After a tough start into training camp, he is batting .282 (.333/.462) with one homerun, four doubles, six runs scored and three RBI in 15 games.

Sidney Ponson, Kansas City Royals:
The 32-year-old right-hander Sidney Ponson, who signed a minor league contract with the Royals following a brilliant performance in the WBC for the Dutch team, will make his Cactus League debut on Thursday against the Seattle Mariners. He already pitched in a minor league game, since joining the club on March 17. It is too early to tell, if he has a chance to make the big league rotation, but likely will accept a Triple-A assignment if not.

Leon Boyd, Toronto Blue Jays:
A week ago, Leon Boyd joined the Toronto Blue Jays with a Minor League contract, and will be assigned to a affiliate in the beginning of April. For updates, check out his blog Canadutch Baseball Experience

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