Spring Training Cats

Pitchers and catchers report to MLB Spring Training later this week, kicking off another professional season across the country. Three former Wildcat pitchers will head to big league spring training while several others will report in March as part of the minor league portion of camp.

Evan Marshall – Arizona Diamondbacks
A member of the Diamondbacks’ 40-man roster, Marshall will go into his third straight big league spring training looking to regain his old form after having his 2015 season abruptly ended due to injury. The 25-year-old pitcher was hit in the head by a line drive during a Triple-A game in El Paso last August, with the result being a severe injury that required an extensive rehabilitation program. His progress has gone well and recently threw his first bullpen session leading up to camp.

Marshall made his big-league debut in 2014 with Arizona, going on to pitch in 57 games and posting a 2.74 ERA. Last year, he broke camp with the Diamondbacks, but was 0-2 with a 6.08 ERA in 13 appearances before finishing out the year in Triple-A.

The right-hander was selected by Arizona in the fourth round of the 2011 MLB Draft.

A.J. Morris – Cincinnati Reds
After turning in one of his best professional seasons in 2015, Morris signed as a minor league free agent with the Cincinnati Reds and is a non-roster invitee to big league camp. Last year, the right-hander spent the entire campaign with the Indianapolis Indians – the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates – and posted a 2.44 ERA (23er, 84.2ip) in 44 games. Morris bounced back from a month of May in which he had a 5.52 ERA by registering a 2.08 mark with 42 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings from June-September. 

The Reds are Morris’ fourth organization since being drafted by the Washington Nationals in fourth round of the 2009 MLB Draft. He also spent part of the 2012 and 2013 seasons in the Chicago Cubs farm system. In 177 career games, he has a 3.26 ERA, 354 strikeouts and .242 batting average against over 442 1/3 innings.

Morris pitched this winter in the Venezuela League, logging 38 innings – mostly in relief – for the Navegantes del Magallanes, who finished runner-up in the league championship series. In his 20 appearances (3 starts), Morris was 3-2 with a 3.08 ERA (13er, 38.0ip), 28 strikeouts and 15 walks.

Carlos Torres – Atlanta Braves
One of the New York Mets’ most-used relievers over the last three seasons, Torres signed a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves in early February. The deal also included an invitation to Major League spring training.

The Braves are Torres’ fourth different organization since he was drafted out of K-State in the 2004 MLB Draft. After being selected by the Chicago White Sox – and pitching for the club in 2009 and 2010 – he played for the Colorado Rockies in 2012 and then the Mets from 2013-15. Since 2012, the 33-year-old has appeared in 196 Major League games and posted a 3.89 ERA.  

Last year, Torres was 5-6 with a 4.68 ERA in 59 games while striking out 48 against 18 walks. This followed a 2014 campaign in which he made a career-high 73 appearances and adding a 3.06 ERA as well as 96 strikeouts in 97.0 innings pitched.

Other Pro Cats
Wade Hinkle – Los Angeles Angels
Spent all of 2015 with Double-A Arkansas, hitting .248/.337/.369 with 18 doubles, 8 home runs and 45 RBI in 106 games. Has a career batting average of .283 with 45 home runs in 379 games.

Kyle Hunter – Seattle Mariners
Primarily pitched for Double-A Jackson in 2015, recording a 3.05 ERA in 24 games with the Generals. Enters his sixth professional season in 2016.

Jared King – New York Mets
In just his second full professional season, King played for Double-A Binghamton in 2015. He hit .214 for the entire season, but he ended the campaign with a .269 clip and 15 RBI over his final 33 contests.

Nick Martini – St. Louis Cardinals
The former seventh round pick by the Cardinals spent time at both the Double-A (95 games) and Triple-A (22 games) levels last year. He was impressive in his brief stint at Triple-A, batting .393/.485/.589 with 7 extra-base hits and 14 RBI with Memphis.

Tanner Witt – Baltimore Orioles
An undrafted free agent, Witt joined the Orioles organization midway through the 2015 season. He went on to play in 49 games with Class A-Advanced Frederick and batted .245/.343/.340 with 7 doubles, 2 triples, a home run and 11 RBI in his first experience in affiliated baseball.

Austin Fisher – Cleveland Indians
In his first full professional season, Fisher saw time at two different levels (Class A and Class A Short Season). He spent most of his time at short season, batting .251/.328/.311 with 16 RBI in 50 games.

Ross Kivett – Detroit Tigers
Also in his first full professional season, Kivett played 133 games for the Class A West Michigan Whitecaps in 2015. He was a .267 hitter with a .330 OBP. He also had 28 doubles, 2 triples, 5 home runs, 50 RBI and 28 stolen bases. The 24-year-old already spent a few days in big league camp with the Tigers last season, even appearing in a couple of games.

Max Brown – Arizona Diamondbacks
After being selected by the Diamondbacks in the 37th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, Brown spent the summer with the organization’s Arizona League rookie team. The outfielder posted a .265 batting average with five triples, 11 RBI and 6 stolen bases in 38 games. The dual citizen represented New Zealand for the third time in his career in early February, playing for the national team in the World Baseball Classic Sydney qualifier. 

Shane Conlon – Oakland A’s
A 34th-round draft pick in 2015, Conlon played 30 games last summer with the Arizona League A’s team. He hit .327/.392/.421 with 4 doubles, 3 triples and 18 RBI.

Nate Griep – Milwaukee Brewers
K-State’s ace in 2015, the right-hander made 14 appearances (5 starts) for Milwaukee’s rookie-level team last summer.