Marco Estrada

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Former Glendale Community College pitcher Marco Estrada came on strong at the end of the year for the Milwaukee Brewers. (Courtesy of Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers / October 12, 2013)

Whether it was at the major or minor league level, plenty of former area baseball players competed on professional diamonds not only across the United States, but in Canada and Mexico.

There were a number of story lines along the way, as the 2013 campaign saw former Glendale Community College and high school standouts making contributions in professional baseball.

It wasn't only on the field where stories were made, as off-the-field issues followed a handful of players throughout the year.

In Major League Baseball, starting pitchers Marco Estrada of the Milwaukee Brewers and Brandon McCarthy of the Arizona Diamondbacks spent significant time on the disabled list. When healthy, the duo enjoyed pockets of success, though the Brewers and Diamondbacks had their share of struggles and missed out on the postseason.

In the minors, Christian Bergman thrived with the Tulsa Drillers and was selected to participate in the Texas League All-Star Game and Alonzo Gonzalez helped the Vancouver Canadians win their third straight Northwest League title. Some players earned promotions in the minors, while another was taken in the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft in June.

The following wrap-up highlights the seasons that were for local products at various stages of their careers in 2013.

Marco Estrada (Glendale Community College, 2003) pitcher, Milwaukee Brewers: Ups and downs defined the 2013 season for Estrada, a former Western State Conference honoree. The right-hander was sidelined nearly two months with a hamstring injury and the Brewers finished 14 games under .500, 74-88, for fourth place in the National League’s Central Division.

Still, Estrada, 30, fared well when healthy and produced some career highlights. He finished 7-4 with a 3.87 earned-run average in 21 starts and struck out 118 in 128 innings.

His best work came after he returned from the disabled list Aug. 7. He went 3-0, picking up victories against the Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves. In his first nine appearances after returning from the disabled list, he posted a tidy 2.15 ERA.

Estrada topped Atlanta on Sept. 23, as he allowed two hits and struck out six in seven scoreless innings to help Milwaukee earn a 5-0 road victory. In six of his last eight starts, Estrada allowed one run or less and recorded at least six strikeouts in each of his last six appearances.

Estrada closed out the season Sept. 29 with another sharp effort against the host New York Mets. He allowed one run and two hits and struck out eight, but didn’t factor into the decision in Milwaukee’s 3-2 defeat.

“I needed it,” Estrada told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Obviously, the first half wasn't the greatest (4-4, 5.32 ERA in 12 starts). I thought I threw some good games, but I had some really bad ones.

“To come back and stay healthy and finish strong means the world. I hope I showed them enough. I'm glad I ended strong and gave them something to think about.”

Estrada will be eligible for arbitration in the offseason, but he might have made a case for the Brewers to have him back in the rotation in 2014.

“Marco has pitched in the second half the way we thought he would all year,” Milwaukee Manager Ron Roenicke told the Journal Sentinel. “We’ll see if he can maintain that through a season. We’ll certainly go into spring training with the thought that he can do it.

“That was a great way for him to finish the season. He gets strikeouts with the fastball, he gets strikeouts with the breaking ball, he gets strikeouts with the change-up. When he’s on like that, he can really go through lineups.”

Brandon McCarthy (Glendale native) pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks: After a scary ending to his 2012 season when he took a line drive off his head, McCarthy missed a large chunk of this year with related injuries but improved as the season wrapped.

In his first season in Arizona, McCarthy went 5-11 with a 4.53 earned-run average and spent nearly two months on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. He also had a setback in his minor-league rehab when he suffered a seizure, linked to his frightening injury in 2012, on June 3.

McCarthy, 30, did return to the show and put together some strong performances for the Diamondbacks (81-81 for second place in the National League’s West Division). In his final outing of the season Sept. 28 against the visiting Washington Nationals, he yielded only two runs in seven innings in a 2-0 defeat.