David Adam

Several ex-Gems hoping to get big-league call

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 25, 2017 12:01 am Updated: Sep. 26, 2017 1:40 am

Outfielder Greg Allen was called up to the Cleveland Indians on Sept. 1, becoming only the second Quincy Gems player to reach the big leagues since the team joined the Prospect League in 2009.

Allen and Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Adam Rosales are among the 10 Major League Baseball players who also once played for the Gems, a summer collegiate baseball team that has been in existence since 1996.

So who are the next ex-Gems who might get the call?

Geoff Hartlieb

Hartlieb, a native of Highland, Ill., played one year of basketball at Quincy University before transferring to Lindenwood and playing baseball for three years. The 6-foot-6 right-handed pitcher is now with the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization.

Hartlieb, 23, made 39 appearances this season for West Virginia and Bradenton, two Class A teams, and collected nine saves and a 2.12 earned run average. He struck out 62 batters and walked just 15 in 63 2/3 innings. His four-seam fastball consistently hits 96-97 miles per hour and has topped 100 mph. He allowed one earned run and struck out 10 in nine innings over his last six appearances for West Virginia to close the season.

Hartlieb pitched for the Gems in 2014. He appeared in 14 games, recording six saves and a 2.25 earned run average in 20 innings.

Sam Coonrod

Coonrod, 25, was a non-roster invitee to the San Francisco Giants' training camp this past spring, and he spent the summer with the Richmond Flying Squirrels of the Class AA Eastern League. The 6-foot-2 right-handed pitcher had a 4-11 record and a 4.69 earned run average, making 18 starts. He had 94 strikeouts in 103 innings. He was moved to the bullpen for his final six appearances.

Grant Brisbee with the McCovey Chronicle, a blog that covers the Giants' minor-league system, believes the Carrollton, Ill., native, will be added to the 40-man roster in the offseason.

Coonrod pitched at Southern Illinois and was a fifth-round draft pick of the Giants in 2013. He played for the Gems in 2012, pitching 20 innings in four appearances. He struck out 18 batters and had a 1.80 earned run average.

Jake Romanski

Romanski, 26, a right-handed hitting catcher, has slowly climbed the Boston Red Sox's organizational ladder, finally reaching Class AAA Pawtucket this season. He batted 56 times and had a .286 average.

He batted .308 in 90 games and threw out 53 of 108 base stealers last season at Class AA Portland, but he was suspended 50 games last December by Major League Baseball for testing positive for amphetamine.

The website Bosoxinjection.com says Romanski is a fringe major league prospect. He was described as an "organizational catcher, which is a polite baseball term for having no MLB future as you serve your time in various minor league outposts before advancing to coach or manager."

Romanski played for the Gems in 2011, batting .281 with no homers and 10 RBIs in 139 at-bats.

Jordan George

He went by Zach George when he played for the Gems in 2012, but regardless of where he plays or what his name is, he has always hit.

Now in the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization, he batted .302 for Class A Bradenton in 248 at-bats this summer, then hit .302 for Class AA Altoona in 106 at-bats after a promotion. He hit 10 homers and drove in 61 runs in a combined 99 games this summer.

He batted .333 in rookie ball in 2015 and .300 in Class A in 2016.

George played third base when he was in Quincy, but he's listed as a first baseman and designated hitter with Altoona. He's also played third and right field at lower levels.

George batted .350 with 51 RBIs in 206 at-bats when he was with the Gems.

Eric Aguilera

Aguilera appeared to be getting close to earning a call-up to the Los Angeles Angels, hitting .327 for the Class A Inland Empire 66ers in 2015 and .270 for the Class AA Arkansas Travelers in 2016. However, he was released after the 2016 season.

Aguilera, 27, was picked up by the Texas Rangers and batted .222 for the Class AA Frisco Roughriders, hitting 15 home runs as the starting first baseman. Time may be running out on Aguilera's big league hopes.

He played outfield for the Gems in 2010 and batted .344 in 32 at-bats before his summer ended early because of an injury.

Other hopefuls

Other Gems still toiling in the low levels of the minors this summer were:

Cassidy Brown: Catcher hit .166 for Class A Dayton in the Cincinnati Reds organization.

Nick Roscetti: Infielder hit .264 with the Helena Brewers of the rookie-level Pioneer League

Stuart Levy: Catcher hit a combined .244 with two Class A level teams in the Baltimore Orioles organization.

Adam McGinnis: Catcher hit .290 with three homers in 62 at-bats for the Chicago White Sox's team in the Arizona Rookie League.

Anthony Villa: First baseman hit .314 with 16 homers in 226 at-bats for the Great Falls Voyagers, a Chicago White Sox affiliate in the rookie-level Pioneer League.

Tyler Adkison: Outfielder hit .343 for rookie-level Ogden before getting a promotion to the Class A Great Lakes Loons, where he hit .208 in 48 at-bats for the Los Angeles Dodgers' affiliate.

Billy Oxford: Right-handed pitcher had 3.75 ERA in 24 innings for Kingsport in the rookie-level Appalachian League.

Joe Mortillaro: Right-handed relief pitcher sat out 2017 in Los Angeles Dodgers organization with an injury.

One more shot

Three former Gems have been in the big leagues once in their career and are hoping to return.

Pat Venditte, an ambidextrous relief pitcher, pitched this season for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, a Class AAA team in the Philadelphia Phillies' organization. He was 9-5 with a 3.36 earned run average in 52 appearances. Venditte, 32, pitched for the Gems in 2006 and briefly played for Oakland, Toronto and Seattle from 2015-16.

Neal Cotts, a left-handed reliever, pitched this season with the Syracuse Chiefs, a Class AAA team in the Washington Nationals' organization. He was 1-3 with a 3.94 earned run average in 52 appearances. Cotts, 37, pitched for the Gems in 1999 and 2000 and played for Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Texas, Milwaukee and Minnesota from 2003-15.

Matt Tracy, a left-handed pitcher, pitched at three levels in the Minnesota organization this year, spending most of his time with the Class AA Chattanooga Lookouts. He was 5-6 with a 4.71 earned run average, making 13 starts and five relief appearances. Tracy, 28, pitched for the Gems in 2009 and pitched one game for the New York Yankees in 2015.