Bay County saw its biggest year in Major League Baseball with three players performing at that level and each finishing with a different organization than the one he started with in 2012.
The same was true for Jeff Mathis of Marianna, who is the veteran of the group of area professional ballplayers.
The Mosley High School trio of David Herndon, Clete Thomas and Jaye Chapman joined Mathis in the majors last season. Their time varied, with Herndon’s season ending after five appearances due to Tommy John surgery and Chapman making his debut late in the schedule. All but Thomas finished the season on a 40-man MLB roster.
Herndon and Mathis garnered much of the attention during the early part of the offseason. Both veterans had notable journeys to their current teams.
Mathis, 29, wrapped up his 12th professional baseball season with Toronto, where he batted .218 with eight home runs and 27 RBIs in 70 games at catcher. It was Mathis’ highest season-ending average in a campaign where he spent all or the majority of his time with the parent club. His one-year stint with the Blue Jays came after joining the pro ranks with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2001.
Mathis was among 12 players traded in a blockbuster deal between Toronto and Miami in November. Shortstop Yunel Escobar, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, outfielder Jake Marisnick, left-hander Justin Nicolino and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani also were sent to the Marlins in exchange for high-priced talent.
Herndon, 27, wasn’t traded, but he was bobbing in the waiver-wire sea after starting the season with Philadelphia. The right-handed reliever finished his third season with Philadelphia following five games and surgery. He was 0-1 with a 4.70 ERA, eight strikeouts and one walk in 7 2/3 innings.
He was claimed off waivers by Toronto Oct. 23 and was designated for assignment a week later. The New York Yankees claimed Herndon off waivers Nov. 6 and he had to clear the same process later in the month before signing a one-year deal. He signed a split contract with New York worth $750,000 plus $50,000 in incentives should he make the team’s MLB roster and a $180,000 base salary for any service in the minor leagues.
Chapman is in a similar position of uncertainty that Herndon experienced. The right-handed reliever was traded from Atlanta to the Chicago Cubs last season and made his MLB debut Sept. 4 against Washington. He was 0-1 with a 3.75 ERA, 12 strikeouts and 10 walks in 12 innings over 14 appearances.
Teams had until Dec. 12 to tender contracts to players. Chapman, 25, was non-tendered and entered free agency Nov. 30. He can sign with any of the 30 MLB teams.
Thomas’ season ended in Rochester (N.Y.) on the Triple-A level. He played in 109 games with the Minnesota affiliate and hit .232 with 12 homers and 47 RBIs.
The 29-year-old outfielder began the season with Detroit, the team that drafted him in 2005, but he was released after playing in only three games. He was signed by Minnesota and played in 12 games for the Twins with a .143 average.
Tomorrow: No. 6, a pair of coaches to remember