11/09/2009 10:18 AM -
The fourth T-Bones player to have his contract purchased by a major league organization was Caleb Balbuena, a 6’ 7” right-hander born in Santa Cruz, CA.
Balbuena was originally drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the sixth round of the 1997 amateur draft, but did not sign. He was then drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 1998 and signed to begin his professional career.
Following four years in the Mariners system, the right-hander joined the Northern League in 2002, playing eight games for the Allentown Ambassadors before sitting out the 2003 season. He then made his T-Bones debut in 2004, posting a 4.67 ERA in 17 and one-thirds innings in six outings, four of which were starts.
Balbuena returned to Kansas City in 2005, posting a 5.36 ERA over 42 innings before the Colorado Rockies signed him on July 29, 2005. Despite going 2-0 with a 2.65 ERA in 17 innings of relief, and striking out 15 batters against just four walks, the Rockies released Balbuena after the season.
The right-hander came back to Kansas City in 2006 for 20 games, posting a 5.75 ERA in 20 and one-thirds relief innings before splitting the final months of the season between St. Joe (American Association) and Atlantic City (Atlantic League). He last played for the Harlingen White Wings of the independent United League in 2008, starting the season as a player/coach before taking over as field manager in late June.
In 2009, Balbuena served as pitching coach for the St. Joe Mustangs in their inaugural season.
Over parts of three seasons with Kansas City, Balbuena appeared in 41 games, making 10 starts in that span. He posted a 4-5 record with one save and an ERA of 5.31 in 79 and two-thirds innings. He struck out 54 batters while walking 47 and held hitters to a .263 average.
The next player in our “where are they now” series is infielder Rafael Rodriguez, signed by the Baltimore Orioles on April 19, 2006.