For one former Salt Lake Trapper, the Big Dream is very close to coming true.
Short-relief pitcher Tim Peters, known as "The Vulture" in 1987 when he helped the Trappers to their national-record 29-game win streak and Pioneer League championship, has so impressed the Montreal Expos that he has been pitching with the big-league club in training camp and is fighting with several more-seasoned Triple-A pitchers for the one relief spot on the major-league roster.It's the highest standing any ex-Trapper has ever attained.
"They're excited. They think he's a major-league prospect," says Trapper co-owner and player procurer Van Schley.
Peters will likely go instead to the Expos' Triple-A farm club in Indianapolis, but Expo scouting director Gary Hughes issues a glowing report on the University of Arkansas product from Portland, Ore., who was 9-3 with 11 saves and a 2.10 earned-run average with the rookie-league Trappers 11/2 seasons ago.
He signed with the Expos, with Schley's help, following the '87 season and had some 30 saves last season, moving from Class A in Rockford (Ill.) to Double-A at Jacksonville (Fla.) during the season. Now, he's slated for Triple-A with a chance of making the majors this season.
"I can't think of anybody who's moved that quick," Hughes told the Deseret News by telephone from the Expos' West Palm Beach (Fla.) training camp. "The big thing is he's come as far along as he has - you don't see it."
Peters was invited as a nonroster player to the big-league camp this season, said Hughes, and Expo manager "Buck Rodgers liked what he saw," Hughes said. The most impressive thing about Peters, says Hughes, "is his professional approach and his tenacity." His sinking fastball challenges hitters, Hughes added.
Hughes said Peters hadn't shown particularly well in the first three games he pitched for the Expos in spring training, but he attributed one game to nerves and another to an umpire who was riding the rookie about the complete-stop balk rule.
"But there's nothing negative about this," Hughes was quick to say. "He's doing tremendous. He's probably going to be Triple-A, but he's right on target."
Should Peters make it to the big leagues, he'd be the third player discovered by Schley to do so.
***** Schley, who's been involved with numerous independent pro teams and who has his own scouting/agent combine, has joined with another Trapper co-owner, actor Bill Murray, and several others, including singer Jimmy Buffet, in purchasing the Miami Marlins long-season Class A franchise. It has been renamed the Miami Miracle.
The Cleveland Indians staff half that club, and Schley's Texas Star Baseball Inc. will provide the other half of the talent, at the Indians' request. Former Trapper Manager Jim Gattis will manage the Miracle.
Schley said the move will benefit the Trappers - who have completely different ownership than the Miracle, apart from Murray and Schley - because the two tryout camps that he, Gattis and Trapper Manager Barry Moss will conduct in Miami in the next few weeks will find talent for both the Miracle and the Trappers. Aspiring Class A talent could find its way to the Trappers.