By “DZ”. Filed 28 July 2021.
It was a tough July for most Europeans, but the three weeks since the last update provided three highlights by Europeans in minor league baseball. The most notable news for the continent’s major leaguers is that the MLB trade deadline passed without Max Kepler changing hands, despite rumors that he might be on the move. In sum, 24 Europeans saw action in affiliated ball in the U.S. this month.
This year, the Europeans under contract with big league clubs have primarily suited in up for teams in spring training or Dominican complexes. July, however, brought two call-ups. Italian Samuel Aldegheri was promoted to Low-A and has two scoreless outings at the higher level. Additionally, Russian Anton Kuznetsov also moved to the full-season league and has pitched successfully. The southpaw excelled in his second season in the old Short-Season Single-A in 2019 (1.91 ERA, 8.2 K/9) before playing in Russia in 2020, mostly at first base. The Low-A Southeast League now features six Europeans, including two each on the Clearwater Threshers and Dunedin Blue Jays. Both players in the Low-A East League are with the Columbia Fireflies.
In similarly positive news, six young players made their professional debuts now that the rookie level’s official season has begun. These include three signings from the 2020-21 signing period, the Netherlands’ Darnel Collins and Italians Alessandro Ercolani and Nicolo Pinazzi. All European players under contract have now appeared in an official game.
Finally, the list of highlights concludes by honoring Donny Breek (Minnesota Twins, Netherlands) and Viktor Vecerka (Kansas City Royals, Czech Republic) on their achievements to date in professional baseball, as they were released by their respective teams.
Didi Gregorius, Philadelphia Phillies. Netherlands.
Gregorius’ offensive struggles since returning from a sore elbow have continued, as he’s hit a single home run amongst six hits in the last 15 days. He’s hitting .162 in that time, and in his 188 bats to date in 2021 he has 8 home runs, 3 stolen bases, and is hitting .213.
Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins. Germany.
The lefty hitter has nine hits in his last fifty at bats, with two walks, three home runs, and a stolen base. He’s now appeared in 19 games in center field, covering for the injured Byron Buxton, after playing almost exclusively right field in 2020. Kepler has also surfaced in a number of trade rumors recently – he has a guaranteed contract through the 2023 season with a team option for 2024. For the season, Kepler has 13 home runs and 8 stolen bases while hitting .215.
Martin Cervenka, New York Mets. Czech Republic.
Syracuse Mets. The Kotlarka Prague club member has three hits in July (in 29 at bats). He has no walks and 8 strikeouts in part-time play. For the season, he is hitting .206 with eight extra base hits.
Markus Solbach, Los Angeles Dodgers. Germany.
Oklahoma City Dodgers. Until July 13, Solbach had given up more than four hits in a start only once. On that date, he allowed five hits, but held the opposition to a single run. In his last two starts, however, the righty has taken the loss, surrendering a combined 14 hits and 13 runs in 8.1 innings. The Dormagen/Pulheim native has pitched in 11 games with 7 starts, and he’s 0-5 with a 7.60 ERA.
Samuel Aldegheri, Philadelphia Phillies. Italy.
Clearwater Threshers. The Verona native moved up this week from rookie league to Low-A. In his two appearances at the higher level, he has pitched four innings without a run allowed, with 2 hits, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts. He had pitched three games at the rookie level, with 8 hits and 3 runs allowed in 8.2 innings, with three walks and 14 strikeouts.
Jiorgeny Casimiri, Toronto Blue Jays, Netherlands.
Dunedin Blue Jays. Casimiri spent three weeks back in the Florida Complex League, but he moved back up to Low-A this week. He threw two innings and allowed three hits in his return to Dunedin’s roster. Across both levels in 2021, Casimiri has a 2-3 record with an 8.50 ERA in 14 games. In 18 innings, he’s allowed 24 hits and 17 earned runs, walking 12 and striking out 20.
Darryl Collins, Kansas City Royals. Netherlands.
Columbia Fireflies. Collins is hitting .211 with a .371 on base percentage in July, with four extra-base hits and 3 stolen bases in 6 attempts. He’s hitting .255/.371/.354 in 212 at bats for the year. Multiple outlets had Collins ranked in the high-20s among Royals’ farmhands in their pre-season lists.
Omar Hernandez, Kansas City Royals. Spain.
Columbia Fireflies. Hernandez has one homer and two stolen bases in July while hitting .184. In 154 ABs for the year, he has 12 extra base hits, 11 walks, 36 strikeouts, and 3 steals without being caught. The backstop is slashing .208/.266/.338.
Anton Kuznetsov, Philadelphia Phillies. Russia.
Clearwater Threshers. Kuznetsov had just been promoted to Low-A when we last checked in, and he’s since pitched five games at the higher level. He’s thrown 9.2 innings with 11 hits, 4 walks and 8 strikeouts. He has a 2.25 ERA for the 2021 season in 12 innings.
Shervyen Newton, New York Mets. Netherlands.
St. Lucie Mets. Newton, who has been consistently ranked around No. 10 among Mets’ prospects, has had a tough year. Repeating Single-A after an aggressive promotion in 2019, his contact and power rates are well down, despite seeing more balls drop than in his first assignment to the league (.339 BABIP, up from .303). Through 30 games, he had a .190/.312/.293 line, but had been placed on the 60-Day IL on June 28 after injuring his shoulder while diving for a ball. News broke this week that he will miss the rest of the season.
Ernesto Wilson Martinez, Milwaukee Brewers. France.
Carolina Mudcats. Thus far in July, Martinez is hitting .273 with 12 extra base hits and 9 stolen bases in 10 attempts. He’s at .262/.364/.503 on the year with nine homers and 24 stolen bases.
Sem Robberse, Toronto Blue Jays. Netherlands.
Dunedin Blue Jays. Robberse has made four appearances in July, pitching to a 1-2 record with a 3.71 ERA, walking 7 and striking out 16. His season ERA is 4.73 in 12 games (10 starts). He has 52 strikeouts and 18 base on balls. Farm system rankings all have Robberse around No. 30, with Fangraphs the most bullish at No. 28.
Leonardo Seminati, Cincinnati Reds. Italy.
Daytona Tortugas. Seminati has 11 hits in 58 at bats in July, with four extra-base hits, 5 walks, and 26 strikeouts. He’s hitting .209/.299/.388 in 129 at bats for the season with six home runs.
Complex Rookie Leagues (9)
Yoan Antonac, Philadelphia Phillies. France.
FCL Phillies. Antonac has thrown five innings in five games this season with an ERA of 5.40. The tall right-hander has surrendered 4 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts.
Marc Civit, Toronto Blue Jays. Spain.
FCL Blue Jays. Civit has now pitched in six games this season, logging 9.1 innings. He has 10 walks and 6 strikeouts along with 6 hits allowed, resulting in 7 runs scored for a 5.79 ERA and a 2-1 win-loss record.
Darnel Collins, Kansas City Royals. Netherlands.
ACL Royals Gold. The younger Collins has 65 at bats with 15 hits (4 for extra bases) in the 2021 rookie season. He’s walked 11 times while striking out 13 and stole a base in his only attempt. Collins is hitting .231/.351/.308.
Daniele Di Monte, Detroit Tigers. Italy.
FCL Tigers West. The left-handed pitcher from Monfalcone has been the starting pitcher in four games. He is 0-3 with a 9.69 ERA in 13 innings, with 16 hits and 7 walks allowed with 15 strikeouts.
Alessandro Ercolani, Pittsburgh Pirates. San Marino/Italy.
FCL Pirates Gold. Ercolani made two appearances for Italy in the U18 European Championships (earning silver in a final with the Netherlands), then returned to Florida for his pro debut. The Sammarinese righty has since pitched twice, facing the minimum batters in two innings while striking out three.
Arij Fransen, Cincinnati Reds. Netherlands.
ACL Reds. Fransen made his professional debut as well, pitching in four games in Arizona, throwing 14 innings with two walks (plus two hit batters) against 21 strikeouts with 13 hits. He has a 2-1 record and a 3.86 ERA.
Ettore Giulianelli, St Louis Cardinals. Italy.
FCL Cardinals. The righty from Rimini has pitched in five games thus far, throwing five innings with 3 hits and one run allowed. He’s allowed 7 free baserunners while also striking out 7.
Nicolo Pinazzi, Cincinnati Reds, Italy
ACL Reds. The Italian left-hander struck out two in a scoreless inning in his July 3 premier, appearing in two games in late-July as well. In total, Pinazzi has walked four and given up two runs in 2.2, punching out four and allowing one hit.
Niklas Rimmel, Minnesota Twins. Germany.
FCL Twins. Rimmel is on the Injured List and has yet to pitch in 2021.
Foreign Rookie Leagues (3)
Eduardo Dominguez, Los Angeles Dodgers. Spain.
DSL Dodgers Bautista. The Madrid native made his professional debut this month. In four games pitched, he has a 2-0 record and 1.13 ERA and a save. He’s thrown 8 innings, allowing only 2 hits with 3 walks and 6 strikeouts.
Delson Guzman, Milwaukee Brewers. Spain.
DSL Brewers 1. Guzman pitched his first two pro games in the Dominican, throwing 4.2 innings with 7 hits and 5 earned runs. Four batters reached by hit or walk and compiled 5 strikeouts.
Frank Hernandez, Chicago Cubs. Spain.
DSL Cubs Blue. Hernandez has logged his first 41 pro at bats, hitting .293 with a home run and two stolen bases. He has walked five times and struck out just three times.
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