Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Two former Victoria Seals still pitching in AAA

Ex-Victoria Seals pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx is continuing his journey towards the big leagues this summer.  Now 27 years old, the big right-hander is pitching for the Syracuse Chiefs, the AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals in the International League. Die-hard Seals fans will remember the dominant half-season that Bibens-Dirkx put together in 2009 for the Victoria squad before he was signed by the Chicago Cubs.

After stagnating as a starter in the Cubs' organization, the Nationals moved Bibens-Dirkx back into the bullpen this year. So far, Bibens-Dirkx has had mixed results. In 16 appearances, he has a 0-1 record and a 4.76 ERA. However, in his 22 2/3 innings pitched, he has only walked five batters and has registered an impressive 27 strikeouts. If Bibens-Dirkx can lower that ERA, he'll have a decent chance of getting called up by the Nationals later this season.

Another former Victoria Seal is trying to claw his way back to the majors in the International League. You may remember that Dane De La Rosa became the first former Victoria Seal to make it to the bigs when he was called up by the Tampa Bay Rays in July of 2011. Unfortunately, his initial "cup of coffee" only lasted three days, but he was promoted to the Rays again on September 11th and then spent the rest of 2011 on the big-league roster. This spring, the Rays returned De La Rosa to their AAA affiliate in Durham -- only to recall him on April 14th. Unfortunately, a disastrous outing against the Boston Red Sox that day (five earned runs in one inning of work) resulted in an immediate demotion back to AAA.

In 22 games with the Durham Bulls this season,  De La Rosa has an 0-2 record with 6 saves and a 3.77 ERA. But those numbers mask his dominance -- De La Rosa has racked up a whopping 41 strikeouts in only 28 2/3 innings on the hill and opponents are only batting .170 against him. Unfortunately, his control has been a big issue: He's averaging 5.7 walks per nine innings, a figure that must come down if he is to earn a fourth promotion to "The Show". If he can cut down on his walk rate, don't be surprised if both of these ex-Seals get the call before the year is out.