Minor league and Independent baseball has a habit of chewing up players and spitting them out, claiming the careers of many talented athletes after one or two seasons. For 16 seasons, Richard Salazar has smiled in the face of those odds and continued to put up strong numbers, year after year. The lefty joined the Wingnuts for the inaugural 2008 season having toiled in the Baltimore Orioles minor league system for seven years, briefly reaching as high as Triple-A for eight games. Under the tutelage of pitching coach Luke Robertson and manager Kash Beauchamp, Salazar was inserted into the starting rotation despite having only started four games previously in his minor league career. The switch paid immediate dividends, as the Venezuelan southpaw won five games and posted a 3.57 ERA over 90.2 innings of work. The change in roles stuck for Salazar, who has since gone on to start more than 150 professional games, many in his native country pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League.
The Wingnuts utilized Salazar both in the rotation and the bullpen during the 2009 season, and he continued to produce solid numbers, going 3-0 with a 3.44 ERA and three saves. Late in the season, Wichita traded Salazar to the Shreveport-Bossier Captains in exchange for closer Justin Dowdy, a deal that worked out well for both sides. Dowdy became of the one of the best late-inning relievers in Wingnuts history, while Salazar put together two outstanding seasons for the now-defunct Captains. His best came in 2010, when he went 10-4 with a 3.78 ERA in 19 starts. The 36-year old hung around the American Association until 2013, spending three years with the Sioux City Explorers and piling up 21 wins in the process.
Prior to the 2014 season, Salazar was shipped to the Can-Am League’s Rockland Boulders, where he has pitched ever since. Salazar has entrenched himself as the linchpin of several successful Boulders rotations, making 69 starts over four seasons and compiling an impressive 36-18 record on the way to three Can-Am championship series appearances. The veteran hurler took his contributions to a new level during the 2017 season, not only tossing 63.2 innings but also serving as Rockland’s pitching coach. Salazar’s career has now spanned 16 professional seasons and more than 1,500 innings.