Four position players, one pitcher to get second look after RailCats tryouts
By Michael Osipoff 713-2485 or firstname.lastname@example.org May 2, 2013 8:38PM
A batting cage provides protection and a safe view of players taking part in an open tryout for the South Shore Railcats in Gary Thursday May 2, 2013. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 4, 2013 6:38AM
GARY — No one can ever accuse the RailCats of not giving tryout participants their money’s worth.
During a seven-hour session on a brisk Thursday at the Steel Yard, all 24 positions players in attendance got a chance to hit and all 14 pitchers got a chance to throw.
And in the final analysis, four position players and one pitcher were invited back for further evaluation next week.
Middle infielder Michael Carpen, a Clark graduate who last played for Chicago State in 2011; catcher John Bobillo, a Michigan City native who last played for Chicago State in 2012; outfielder Spencer Anderson, a senior this season at Purdue North Central; outfielder Alex Foltz, who played for RailCats manager Greg Tagert in a winter league in Texas and is coming off Tommy John surgery; and right-hander Nathan Stewart, who touched the low 90s on the radar gun and pitched for Evansville in the Frontier League in 2010, all will have the opportunity to play in an intrasquad game on Monday or, more likely, an exhibition on May 10.
“Nathan Stewart, he was pretty impressive today, and so was Bobillo,” Tagert said. “Those two guys really stood out. They’re definitely worth a second look.”
Overall, the talent level was relatively high, with Tagert noting the “quality over quantity.”
The participants included lefty Clay Zavada, who pitched in the major leagues for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009, struggled with injuries last season with the St. Louis Cardinals’ Triple-A Memphis affiliate and continues to attempt to return to health; four players who had spent time on past RailCats rosters; and players who had traveled from states such as California and South Carolina.
Position players ran a 60-yard dash and a baserunning test from first to third, then broke into drills for outfielders, infielders and catchers, before taking batting practice. Unlike previous tryouts, all of the position players — no initial cut was made after BP, with the turnout being manageable and the RailCats sensitive to charging a $50 fee for the first time — were afforded the chance to swing against the pitchers trying out as part of a live game. For the final hour, in a simulated game, selected hitters from the tryout faced pitchers under contract with the RailCats, and vice versa.
“The paying thing, it did enter our mind,” Tagert said.
“The last thing I want to do is squelch somebody’s dreams by a fee-based tryout. We’re certainly going to evaluate it. But we don’t want to project the image that it’s a fantasy camp. … We’re looking for players.”