29 Apr New Names on Miners Roster
photo: Miners Bobby Jones
Kelly, Klinchock, Estrada Are Newest Miners
Juan Kelly had an excellent year playing for the Trois-Rivieres Aigles in 2019, batting .321 in the final season of the Can-Am League.
Now, this summer, he’ll be playing for the Miners.
Manager Bobby Jones claimed him during last week’s “dispersal draft,” after the Aigles – and the Ottawa Titans — had to shut down for this season because of the U.S.-Canada border being closed to fight the Covid virus.
The Can-Am League was absorbed by the Frontier League after the 2019 season, and Covid shut things down for everybody in 2020.
But, Jones might have a very clear memory of going up against Kelly in 2019.
After seven years playing outfield for Toronto Blue Jays farm teams, Kelly, still just 24 years old, made a big splash on the scene at Trois-Rivieres.
He was batting .306 when the Aigles visited Skylands Stadium for a double-header on Aug. 2, 2019. By the time he went 3-for-5 the next day, he was up to .325.
He was batting .322 a few weeks later, when the Miners traveled 450 miles north along the St. Lawrence River to Trois-Rivieres – a picture-postcard riverside village halfway between Montreal and Quebec.
By the time the Miners left town, Kelly was batting .328, with hits in every game and 5 RBIs for the series.
In the opposing dugout, Jones had to be saying “oh no, not him again.”
Now, Kelly’s on the Miners.
Like his new teammate, Sussex County first-baseman Audy Ciriaco, Kelly signed a pro contract as a teenager in the Dominican Republic. He joined the Blue Jays organization in 2012 as a 17-year old from Santo Domingo Este, just across the Ozama River from the metropolitan city of Santo Domingo, on the southern coast of the island on the Caribbean Sea.
The Blue Jays had him get a little seasoning in the Dominican Summer League for two years, before bringing him north to play in the Gulf Coast Rookie League as a 19-year old in 2014.
Since then, he’s been all over the map with Toronto farm teams, playing his final season with the Double-A New Hampshire FisherCats of the Eastern League in 2018.
He moved to Trois-Rivieres in 2019, where the switch-hitter was a hit machine who also showed power, whacking 10 home runs in 59 games.
In all, 21 players were selected by Frontier League teams in the dispersal draft. The players had all been under contract to play for either the Aigles or the Titans this year. The third Canadian team in the league, the Quebec Capitales, will play this season as a road team called Province of Quebec.
Two Rookies Complete Prior Trade:
Robert Klinchock and Wille Estrada Join Miners
Back on Dec. 14, 2020, the Miners traded infielder Trevor Achenbach to the Ottawa Titans for player(s) to be named later.
This week, those players arrived.
Lefty pitcher Robert Klinchock and catcher Willie Estrada are now on the Miners roster.
It was an interesting trade on paper. In fact, it was 100 percent all paper: Achenbach had never played a game for the Miners and neither Klinchock nor Estrada had ever played a game for the Titans.
The Miners had picked up Achenbach’s contract after his former team, the River City Rascals, went out of business after the 2019 season. Meanwhile, the Titans held contracts with Klinchock and Estrada after each of them had played the 2019 season with affiliated minor league teams, Klinchock with the Tigers and Estrada with the Phillies.
Klinchock pitched for Shenandoah University and was drafted by Detroit in the 35th round of the 2019 draft. He played on Tigers teams in both the Gulf Coast Rookie League and Class-A Midwest League in 2019, before signing on with Ottawa, where he never actually played a game.
Estrada signed as a free agent with the Phils in 2019, after he’d won recognition as the nation’s top defensive catcher at Southeastern University, in Lakeland, FL.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) in conjunction with the American Baseball Coaches Association honored Estrada as the 2019 ABCA-Rawlings-NAIA Baseball Gold Glove Team catcher.
Over the course of 46 regular season games and conference tournament games, Estrada recorded just two passed balls. In 436 chances, the Kissimmee, FL, native recorded 398 putouts, 35 assists, and committed only three errors for a .993 fielding percentage. And, he threw out 12 runners in 24 stolen base attempts when he was behind the plate.
Estrada was assigned to the Phils Low-Class-A affiliate in Clearwater in August of 2019, then released in May of 2020, when the Covid virus had shut down the sport throughout the U.S.
By Carl Barbati, former sports editor of the New Jersey Herald, Daily Record and The Trentonian.