Lyle Overbay, the Pioneer Baseball League MVP for Missoula in 1999, became the first Osprey alum to reach the Double A level last year. Overbay was promoted by the Arizona Diamondbacks to El Paso, and he remains at that level this season.
The first ex-Osprey to play Triple A ball? Vince Eppolito.
Working at the Diamondbacks' extended spring training camp in Tucson, Ariz., the relief pitcher who went 4-0 with an earned run average of 7.24 in 20 games at Missoula last summer was called across the street to help out the Tucson Sidewinders for a few days.
In his first appearance on April 24, Eppolito struck out the side in his only inning of work. He also walked two and gave up a run-scoring single in the Sidewinders' 7-3 loss to Edmonton.
Eppolito, an 18th round pick in 2000 out of Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, got into one more game a couple of days later, again going an inning in relief. He allowed no runs and finished his brief stint in Triple A with an ERA of 4.50, three strikeouts, three walks and one hit allowed in two innings.
Last week Eppolito was called up to Class A South Bend. On Friday he went three innings of one-hit, no-run ball in relief of starting pitcher Beltran Perez to notch his first win, a 6-3 verdict over Kane County.
Eppolito's victory was preserved when another ex-Osprey, Greg Belson, pitched the final two innings for his third save. Kane County had runners on the corners with two outs in the eighth when a diving stop and hard throw at third by Corey Myers (Missoula '99 and '00) bailed out Belson.
The Lancaster JetHawks haven't settled on a closer, but Brian Matzenbacher (Missoula '99) is on the short list. Matzenbacher lowered his ERA to 0.93 by throwing a scoreless ninth inning Thursday to save a 3-2 win over Modesto in Class A California League play.
Matzenbacher hasn't allowed an earned run in the last 19 1/3 innings, and he's been scored on in just one of his last 11 appearances. Manager Scott Coolbaugh said Matzenbacher and hard-throwing Jody Fuller, another right-hander, are his leading candidates for short relief out of a bullpen that had surrendered 17 earned runs in 17 1/3 innings before Thursday.
Seems as though Casey Daigle has caught his stride at South Bend. A Diamondbacks' sandwich pick between the first and second rounds in 1999, the Louisiana right-hander was up and down in Missoula last season en route to a 3-5 record and a 4.90 ERA. Daigle leads the Silver Hawks with a 4-2 record and an ERA of 1.88 after his first seven starts. He has struck out 28 and walked 11.
Center fielder Luis Terrero, an Osprey in both '99 and 2000, is on the disabled list with a high ankle sprain that's expected to cost him three to five weeks. The Diamondbacks sent Terrero from South Bend to extended spring camp in Arizona while he recovers. Terrero was hitting just .157 with a home run and eight RBIs before he was hurt. He'd gone 89 at-bats without a walk, while striking out 29 times.
Last Sunday, Overbay crunched a pitch by Shreveport's Jerome Williams over the right-field wall for his first grand slam home run in El Paso's 7-6 victory. Overbay drove in five runs all told, while ex-Osprey Doug Devore provided the game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh.
Overbay sits seventh in the Texas League with a .318 batting average, and he's tied for the league lead with 42 hits. A first baseman his first two years in the pros, Overbay has spent most of this season back in the outfield, his former position at the University of Nevada.
Arizona Diamondbacks affiliates
(League ranking in parentheses)
|W-L||Batting||ERA||AA El Paso||10-25 (8th)||.254 (3rd)||4.48 (7th)||A Lancaster||19-16 (3rd)||.304 (1st)||5.14 (9th)||A South Bend||15-19 (8th)||.251(10th)||3.52 (4th)|