Friday, February 09, 2018

INDEPENDENT LEAGUES BIG CONTRIBUTORS (AGAIN) WITH 57 PLAYERS DUE IN MAJOR LEAGUE CAMPS

Another couple of names likely will be added, but IndyBaseballChatter.com has compiled another impressive list of 56 players who have toiled in Independent leagues and are due in major league spring training camps.  Twenty-six of them are on 40-man rosters while the other 31 are non-roster invitees, a count that has swelled the last few days as veteran outfielder Daniel Nava (Pittsburgh) and established reliever Tom Wilhelmsen (San Diego) have reached agreements that include spring training opportunities.

Forty-four pitchers--four more than one year ago--are included along with four catchers, five infielders and four outfielders.

The four primary Independent leagues (American Association, Atlantic, Can-Am and Frontier) have given most of these players their opportunities although the smaller Pecos League and former circuits such as the Golden, Northern, North American and United continue to have players at this level.

Two unsigned veterans (infielder Stephen Drew and reliever Craig Breslow) could increase the total count and some major league organizations may add to their non-roster invitations.  The modern day trend of bringing players up from minor league camps for one or more exhibition games will give still more Indy players exposure to the major league brass.

The list of onetime Independent players expected in the 30 camps, by position, with the major league team and where each person played in the Independent ranks:

         Pitchers (44)--Henderson Alvarez, Philadelphia (Long Island, Atlantic League); NR*Ryan Atkinson, Arizona (Evansville, Frontier League); NR-Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Texas (Lancaster, Atlantic, and Victoria, Golden League); Buddy Boshers, Houston (Somerset, Atlantic); John Brebbia, St. Louis (Sioux Falls and Laredo, American Association);  NR-Tyler Cloyd, Miami (Somerset, Atlantic);  NR-Steve Delabar, Texas (Brockton, Can-Am League, and Florence, Frontier); NR-Jose Flores, San Francisco (Sioux City, American Association); Wilmer Font, Los Angeles-NL (Ottawa, Can-Am); Luis Garcia, Philadelphia (Newark, Can-Am); Junior Guerra, Milwaukee (Wichita, American Association); NR-Cody Hall, Tampa Bay (Lancaster); Ariel Hernandez, Cincinnati (Frontier Greys, Frontier); Rich Hill, Los Angeles-NL (Long Island); James Hoyt, Houston (Wichita; Edinburg and Yuma, North American League); Scott Kazmir, Atlanta (Sugar Land, Atlantic); NR-Mike Kickham, Miami (Kansas City, American Association); Brandon Kintzler, Washington (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, Northern League);  NR-Kevin Lenik, Kansas City (Windy City, Frontier); NR-Brandon Mann, Texas (Fargo, American Association, and Lancaster); *Chris Martin, Texas (Grand Prairie, American Association); NR-Jarret Martin, Oakland (Sussex County, Rockland and Ottawa, Can-Am League, and York, Atlantic); NR-Tim Melville, Baltimore (Long Island); NR-Brian Moran, Los Angeles-NL (Bridgeport, Atlantic); James Needy, Miami (Sioux City, American Association); NR-Vidal Nuno, Tampa Bay (Washington, Frontier); Edward Paredes, Los Angeles-NL (York, Atlantic); *James Paxton, Seattle (Grand Prairie); NR*Trevor Richards, Miami (Gateway, Frontier); *Tanner Roark, Washington (Southern Illinois, Frontier); Chaz Roe, Tampa Bay (Laredo, American Association); NR-Drew Rucinski, Miami (Rockford, Frontier); *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth, American Association);  NR-Bo Schultz, Pittsburgh (Grand Prairie, American Association); Robby Scott, Boston (Yuma);  NR-Tayler Scott, Texas (Sioux City); NR-Chris Smith, Washington (Lake Erie, Traverse City and Washington, Frontier; White Sands, Pecos League); Josh Smoker, Pittsburgh (Rockford);  NR-Robert Stock, San Diego (New Jersey and Sussex County, Can-Am); NR-Marcus Walden, Boston (Lancaster); NR-Tom Wilhelmsen, San Diego (Tucson, Golden); *Aaron Wilkerson, Milwaukee (Grand Prairie; Florence, Frontier; Fort Worth, United League); NR*Eric Yardley, San Diego (Trinidad and Taos, Pecos); Brad Ziegler, Miami (Schaumburg, Northern).

            Catchers (4)--NR-Rafael Lopez, San Diego (Bridgeport,  Atlantic); Rene Rivera, Los Angeles-AL (Camden, Atlantic);  NR-Jan Vasquez, Colorado (Long Island); NR (Also plays 1B)-Shawn Zarraga, Los Angeles-NL (Cleburne, American Association).

            Infielders (5)--NR-Ryan Court, Chicago-NL (Sioux City); NR-Steve Lombardozzi, Oakland (Southern Maryland, Atlantic); NR-SS Peter Mooney, Miami (New Jersey); NR-1B Brandon Snyder, Tampa Bay (Southern Maryland); Ildemaro Vargas, Arizona (Bridgeport, Atlantic).

            Outfielders (4)--NR-Jeremy Barfield, Boston (Sugar Land and Camden, Atlantic); Jose Martinez, St. Louis (Rockford); NR*Daniel Nava, Pittsburgh (Chico, Golden); David Peralta, Arizona (Amarillo and Wichita, American Association; Rio Grande Valley, North American).

            *First professional game was in an Independent league.
            NR-Non-roster invitee.



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Monday, January 22, 2018

FOREIGN OPPORTUNITIES APPEALING AND NON-ROSTER INVITATIONS KEEP COMING


This Week in Independent Baseball

Foreign Money Is Intriguing

Veteran Tanner Scheppers has become the second American Association grad and at least the third former Independent Baseball hurler to leave the majors during this offseason in favor of a better opportunity overseas.  Scheppers, who recently turned 31, will make $800,000 to pitch for the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan.  The Dallas Morning News first reported the news.

Scheppers, who started his professional career with four starts at St. Paul in 2009, had his best major league season in '13 when he won six of eight decisions and earned one save while posting a 1.88 earned run average in 76 appearances for the Texas Rangers, who drafted him out of Fresno State.  He has struggled to stay healthy in recent years, pitching in only 15 major league games the last two seasons.


Right-hander Tim Adleman (Lincoln and El Paso of the American Association and New Jersey of the Can-Am League) left his job with Cincinnati to pitch in Korea for the Samsung Lions and southpaw  Andrew Albers, who finished last season with Seattle, has gone to the Orix Buffaloes in Japan. 

The Latest Non-Roster Invitations

Pitchers dominate, as usual, as non-roster invitations continue to pile up for former Independent players to major league spring training camps.  Twelve of the 15 invitations we have seen are to hurlers.  This number will continue to grow as we head toward the opening of camps next month with less than half of the 30 teams making all of their announcements.  

The list so far as compiled by IndyBaseballChatter.com, with the major league team and the previous Indy affiliations:

Pitchers (12)--*Ryan Atkinson, Arizona (Evansville, Frontier League); Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Texas (Lancaster, Atlantic League, and Victoria, Golden League); Tyler Cloyd, Miami (Somerset, Atlantic);  Steve Delabar, Texas (Brockton, Can-Am League, and Florence, Frontier); Cody Hall, Tampa Bay (Lancaster); Mike Kickham, Miami (Kansas City, American Association);  Kevin Lenik, Kansas City (Windy City, Frontier); Brandon Mann, Texas (Fargo, American Association, and Lancaster); Jarret Martin, Oakland (Sussex County, Rockland and Ottawa, Can-Am League, and York, Atlantic); Vidal Nuno, Tampa Bay (Washington, Frontier); Marcus Walden, Boston (Lancaster); *Eric Yardley, San Diego (Trinidad and Taos, Pecos League).

            Infielders (2)--Steve Lombardozzi, Oakland (Southern Maryland, Atlantic); 1B Brandon Snyder, Tampa Bay (Southern Maryland).

            Outfielders (1)--Jeremy Barfield, Boston (Sugar Land and Camden, Atlantic).

            *First professional game was in an Independent league.



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Thursday, January 04, 2018

RIVERA A FREE AGENT, BUT A HERO IN PUERTO RICO

This Week in Independent Baseball

Heroism in Puerto Rico--Veteran catcher Rene Rivera (Camden, Atlantic League) is a free agent this winter after splitting his ninth major league season between the Mets and Cubs, but he has been a giant figure in his homeland of Puerto Rico, where even the regular baseball season could not be salvaged after the devastating hurricane that still has many people without power.  He made good on a promise to spread goodwill by delivering $25,000 worth of toys collected in the U.S. to some 100 communities.  "It has been a week full of beautiful & humbling experiences", the 34-year-old tweeted, explaining "we were able to do 12 towns, 60 schools, 100 communities & over 25,000 kids." By the way, the Puerto Rican League is playing an abbreviated schedule this month without imports leading up to defending its Caribbean Series title the first week of February.

More Spring Training Invitations--The latest players with Indy time to receive non-roster invitations to major league camps are lefty Jarret Martin (Sussex County, Rockland and Ottawa, all in the Can-Am League, and York of the Atlantic League) with Oakland and first baseman Brandon Snyder (Southern Maryland, Atlantic) with Tampa Bay.

Byrdak Gets a Degree, Finally--Tim Byrdak pitched for five major league teams before retiring a few years ago, now the southpaw reliever has taken advantage of his educational fund to earn a degree from Robert Morris University.  "Twenty years in the making," the 44-year-old told the Daily Southtown newspaper.  "Now I have to find a job."  He has a plan:  "During the course of my career I had injuries here and there and rehab processes and that type of deal trying to survive.  I want to work with kids and teach them proper mechanics and teach them to the best of my ability to keep them off the operating table." His career was not too shabby, either.  Byrdak appeared in 479 major league games, winning 13 times and saving four other contests.


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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Rule-5 Draft, Spring Training invites highlight indy baseball week

This Week in Independent Baseball

Four Taken in Rule 5 Draft--Continuing to show their value to major league organizations, four players with Independent Baseball experience were selected by new teams in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft during the Winter Meetings in Orlando.  The first person to go was catcher Yermin Mercedes, who came out of the Pecos League (Douglas and White Sands) and who chosen away from Baltimore by the Chicago White Sox.  He was the No. 2 pick in the entire Triple-A portion.  Eight spots later the outfielder converted to pitching, Andrew Muren (Fargo, Sioux Falls and Gary, all in the American Association) went from San Francisco to Toronto.  Lefty Chris Nunn (Evansville, Frontier League) was chosen by Houston from the Chicago Cubs.  Another southpaw, Carlos Diaz (Gary) was a Round 2 choice from Miami to Oakland.

Major League Spring Training Invitations--Somewhere around 25 former Independent players will become non-roster invitees to major league camps, presuming the level of recent years holds.  Three pitchers were added in recent days joining Boston outfielder Jeremy Barfield (Sugar Land and Camden, Atlantic League).  They are RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx of Texas (Lancaster, Atlantic League, and Victoria, Golden League); and the Tampa Bay pair of RHP Cody Hall (Lancaster) and LHP Vidal Nuno (Washington, Frontier League).

New to 40-Man Roster--The biggest addition to a major league camp probably is RHP Chris Martin of Texas (Grand Prairie, American Association), who returns to the majors after two outstanding seasons in Japan.  Martin got his professional start in Grand Prairie.


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Friday, December 08, 2017

HEADING TO THE WINTER MEETINGS

A few thoughts as I head for the Winter Meetings in Orlando where I will be located at Trade Show Booth 1817 with talented Kentucky artist Gary Cieradkowski.

DRAFT--It always is interesting to see which former Independent players get chosen during the Rule 5 draft, giving them a fresh start with a new major league organization.

ADLEMAN--The biggest news in the Indy world in recent days is that Cincinnati's Tim Adleman has received a $100,000 bonus and a contract worth slightly more than $1 million to pitch for the Samsung Lions in Korea.  This right-hander, who spent 2012 and 2013 in Independent leagues (Lincoln and El Paso in the American Association and New Jersey in the Can-Am League), led the parent Reds in both innings pitched (122.1) and strikeouts (108) last season.

WELCOME BACK CHRIS COSTE--One of the best names ever to wear an Independent uniform, catcher Chris Coste, is going to be Fargo's (American Association) hitting coach next season, returning to the RedHawks for whom he played for four years ('96-'99).  Coste's story celebrates perseverance in that he was in the minor leagues for 11 seasons before finally reaching the majors with Philadelphia at the age of 33 in 2006.

SPRING TRAINING INVITATIONS--The normal count of former Independent Baseball players in major league spring training camps runs about 50 these days.  The records maintained by IndyBaseballChatter.com currently show 26 such players on 40-man winter rosters, and the first non-roster invitation that we have seen belongs to former Atlantic League outfielder (Sugar Land and Camden) Jeremy Barfield, who was signed by Boston last summer.  The son of former major leaguer Jesse Barfield, who is 29, hit 27 homers at Sugar Land one year ago, and bettered that mark by one in 95 games in the Red Sox system.  He hit 27 at Double-A Portland and one at Triple-A Pawtucket. More invitations will trickle in in the weeks to come.



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