Once upon a time Chuck James was a top prospect in the Braves’ system, posting great numbers in the minors before debuting in September of 2005.
He joined Atlanta’s rotation the next season at age 24 and posted a 4.05 ERA with a 207/105 K/BB ratio in 280 innings over two years before blowing out his shoulder. He missed most of 2008 and all of 2009 following rotator cuff and labrum surgery, returning as a Triple-A reliever for the Nationals last season.
He pitched well with a 2.32 ERA and 69/11 K/BB ratio in 66 innings, signed with the Twins this winter, and forced them to call him up by throwing 29 innings with a 1.57 ERA and 37/9 K/BB ratio out of the Triple-A bullpen. James’ raw stuff doesn’t match those numbers, but even while succeeding as a mid-rotation starter in Atlanta his average fastball was just 88 mph and with 106 strikeouts in 95 innings since returning he’s missed bats without overpowering hitters.
Minnesota’s bullpen is such a mess that a handful of decent outings could get James a late-inning role.
Minor League Baseball announced on Wednesday that, for the 14th consecutive season, the league has eclipsed 40 million in total attendance. 20 teams set single-game attendance records and seven teams set franchise records for single-game attendance in their current parks.
ESPN’s Keith Law, who has been covering the minor leagues for quite a while, did the math:
Minor League Baseball president and CEO Pat O’Conner, whose most prominent stint in the public eye involved him disingenuously justifying the underpaying of his players, said, “Minor League Baseball continues to be the best entertainment value in sports, and these numbers support that. For us to top 40 million fans for the 14th consecutive season despite the weather challenges our teams faced in April and May is a testament to the continued support of our loyal fan bases and the creative promotions and hard work done by all of our teams across the country.”
Major and Minor League Baseball are quite happy to make money hand over fist on the backs of their players, but are too cheap to pay them adequately for their labor.