NORTH ADAMS, Mass.
– Before the 2012 New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) season began, the North Adams SteepleCats ran a press release catching up on former players who have found themselves excelling both in various minor league systems and also with those who have debuted at the Major League level.
Now more than halfway through the MLB season, those players have continued to progress and several are on the cusp of cracking their respective Big League rosters.
A member of the SteepleCats’ first team in 2002, Angels catcher/first baseman Bobby Wilson has seen action mostly as the squad’s designated hitter this season, appearing in 45 games while driving in six runs and scoring nine. He represented the game-winning run in a contest in New York this past weekend, as Wilson and the Angels downed the Yankees in the Bronx.
Right-hander Mike Eckstrom, whose days with the SteepleCats extend all the way back to 2002 during North Adams’ inaugural season as well, has been a dominant reliever for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (PCL-AAA), appearing in 37 games while posting a 2.64 ERA with 51 strikeouts and only 15 walks over 47.2 innings.
Sidearm righty Joe Smith, who has been in The Bigs since debuting with the New York Mets back in 2007, continues to baffle opposing hitters from the bullpen. The dropdown righty has limited the opposition to only a 2.97 ERA and boasts a 5-2 record in 40 appearances this season. The 2005 SteepleCat boasts a 1.14 WHIP and a .220 batting average against him.
Meanwhile, another 2005 alumnus, outfielder Cole Gillespie has torn up the Pacific Coast League with the Triple-A Reno Aces (affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks) in 2012 as he continues to build a case for his return to the Majors. Gillespie has posted a .316 batting average with 98 hits while scoring 64 runs and knocking in 43 RBI with an OPS of .896.