Friday, October 24, 2014

CATCHING UP WITH PLAYER TRANSACTIONS, THE WINTER LEAGUES AND THE AFL

A surprising release we picked up today. Julio DePaula, who made that meteoric climb from York, PA (Atlantic League) to the Baltimore Orioles in 11 days in mid-summer, has been given free agency. He had not been in a major league uniform since 2007 (Minnesota) when he reported to the Orioles for a day before being designated for assignment and eventually returning to Class AA Bowie, MD.

BEVY OF INDEPENDENT PLAYERS IN WINTER BASEBALL

While the winter league season still is young, two hitters who had strong regular seasons are off to flying starts. San Francisco hopeful Mark Minicozzi, a well-traveled Independent vet, is hitting .417 (15-for-36) after 10 games in Venezuela. The versatile Minicozzi has two homers and has driven in eight runs. His Independent time was in the American Association (Kansas City, KS and Winnipeg), Can-Am League (Worcester, MA) and Atlantic League (Camden, NJ).

Third baseman Andy Marte, who was with the parent Arizona Diamondbacks for a very brief time this summer, has started fast in the Dominican Republic by going 5-for-11 with a homer and seven RBI in only three games. Now a free agent, Marte spent his Indy time at York.

Among pitchers, Chris Smith (Sugar Land, TX, Atlantic, and Wichita, KS, American Association) has worked 12 innings in two starts in Venezuela without allowing an earned run. He is in the San Diego minor league system.

CATCHING UP WITH ARIZONA FALL LEAGUERS

The only two former Independent players we have identified as playing in the Arizona Fall League are struggling so far. Frontier League grads Brandon Cunniff (Southern Illinois)and Alex Smith (River City) have 4.76 and 11.81 earned run averages, respectively. Both have worked five plus innings in multiple appearances. Cunniff is in the Atlanta farm system while Smith is with the New York Yankees.





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Friday, October 10, 2014

TOP SHELF INDY GRADS MARTE, FEIERABEND LOOKING FOR NEW OPPORTUNITIES

A great number of former Independent players with major league organizations will be looking for new contracts once the World Series is over, but two of the record 41 players who were active in the big leagues this season have gotten a jump by declaring free agency. Both played their Indy baseball at York, PA (Atlantic League).

Third baseman Andy Marte logged a few days with Arizona this season, and had a banner year with the Diamondbacks’ top farm club in Reno, NV. Lefty Ryan Feierabend spent most of the year with Texas’s Triple-A club in Round Rock, though he also logged time with the parent Rangers.

Right-hander Bo Schultz got his first taste of the majors during a couple of stints with Arizona (four appearances; eight innings), and was 10-8 at Reno. He was picked up via waivers this week by Toronto where he will try for a slot next spring.

FRESH START IN TRIPLE-A FOR THIS CATCHER

Ryan Eigsti, at one time with Frontier League power Southern Illinois (Marion), has seen his fortunes change. Kansas City signed the catcher and placed him on the roster of its top farm club in Omaha, NE.


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Monday, October 06, 2014

LIKE MAJORS, IT TOOK 413-PITCH MARATHON TO DECIDE ATLANTIC LEAGUE

Major League Baseball does not have anything on the Atlantic League when it comes to exhausting postseason games.

The season finale in the Atlantic, which ended up with Lancaster, PA winning its second championship, included back-and-forth leads between the Barnstormers and Sugar Land (TX) Skeeters over 13 gripping innings that required four hours and 40 minutes to play. Gabe Jacobo’s walkoff home run in the bottom of the 13th won it to the delight of most of the 6,084 fans, giving Lancaster a three-game sweep.

Fifteen combined pitchers three 413 pitches (225 by Sugar Land) with 30 hits, six home runs, 12 walks and 22 strikeouts. Twenty-eight runners were left on base in the 8-7 contest. Jacobo had a double in addition to two homers and drove in four runs. Delwyn Young homered twice for the Skeeters.

INDEPENDENTS MAY GET SHUT OUT IN LCS AND WORLD SERIES

Unless Washington can reel of three consecutive wins to erase its 2-0 deficit against San Francisco or Kansas City elects to activate reliever Aaron Crow (Fort Worth, TX, American Association) for the American League Championship Series against Baltimore, not a single Independent Baseball player will get to experience a League Championship Series or World Series this year. Tanner Roark (Southern Illinois, Frontier League) carries the current Indy hopes with Washington. Max Scherzer (Fort Worth) was the Game 1 starter for Detroit in its Division Series loss to Baltimore. Scott Kazmir (Sugar Land) of Oakland and John Holdzkom (Amarillo, TX, and Sioux City, IA, American Association, and San Angelo, TX, United League) of Pittsburgh had their hopes of going on dashed in the wild-card games.

95 WINS FOR INDY HURLERS

The final tally for onetime Independent hurlers in the major leagues during the regular season showed 95 victories and 73 defeats with Scherzer on top with 18 wins followed by 15 for both Roark and Kazmir.

‘PERCEPTION OF AGE’ NOT HELPING JASON LANE

One of the many players whose future is an unknown is Jason Lane (Sugar Land and Southern Maryland, Atlantic League), but the outfielder-turned-pitcher seems to carry an extremely positive attitude as he prepares for the winter season in Venezuela.

Lane won praise this summer when he became a rarity at the age of 37 to make his first major league mound start and held Atlanta to one run in six-plus innings for San Diego. “It’s the perception of age that works against me,” the California native told The Santa Rosa Press Democrat recently. “But the odd thing is that I’ve only been pitching for a few years (starting, primarily, at Sugar Land in 2012). My arm is really like a 27-year-old.

“I’m just very thankful for the Padres organization giving me a shot for the short time I was up there (10.1 innings, 0-1, 0.87 over two times called up).” Lane, who said he is open to most any offer the team makes but insists “I’ll fight to get back there (majors)”, also pointed out he never missed a start at Triple-A El Paso, where he went 9-9 with a 4.15 ERA.


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Thursday, September 25, 2014

INDEPENDENT HURLERS COMBINE FOR 91 MAJOR LEAGUE WINS

Nineteen former Independent pitchers have earned at least one win this major league season (through Wednesday, September 24), with a total of 91 victories. The list:

•Detroit’s Max Scherzer, Fort Worth , TX, American Association, earned 17 wins.
•Washington’s Tanner Roark, Southern Illinois, IL, Frontier League, earned 15 wins.
•Oakland’s Scott Kazmir, Sugar Land, TX, Atlantic League, earned 14 wins.
•Kansas City’s Aaron Crow, Fort Worth, TX, American Association, earned 6 wins.
•Philadelphia’s Jerome Williams, Lancaster, PA, Atlantic League, and Long Beach, CA, Golden League, earned 6 wins while pitching for Houston, Texas and Philadelphia.
•Seattle’s James Paxton, Grand Prairie, TX, American Association, earned 6 wins.
•Arizona’s Brad Ziegler, Schaumburg, IL, Northern League, earned 5 wins.
•Milwaukee’s Brandon Kintzler, St.Paul, MN, American Association, and Winnipeg, MB, American Association, earned 3 wins.
•Seattle’s Tom Wilhelmsen, Tucson, AZ, Golden League, earned 3 wins.
•Toronto’s Steve Delabar, Brockton, MA, Can-Am League, and Florence, KY, Frontier, earned 3 wins.
•Arizona’s Vidal Nuno, Washington, PA, Frontier League, earned 2 wins while pitching for the New York Yankees and Arizona.
•Boston’s Craig Breslow, New Jersey Jackals (Little Falls), now in the Can-Am League, earned 2 wins.
•Los Angeles (AL) Joe Thatcher, River City, MO, Frontier League, earned 2 wins while pitching for Arizona and the Los Angeles Angels.
•Minnesota’s Caleb Thielbar, St. Paul, MN, American Association, earned 2 wins.
•With one win apiece were Atlanta’s Ian Thomas, Winnipeg, MB, American Association, Cincinnati’s Dylan Axelrod, Windy City, Crestwood, IL, Frontier League, Los Angeles Angels’ Yoslan Herrera, Lancaster, PA, Atlantic League, the New York Mets’ Scott Rice, York, PA, Atlantic League, and Newark, NJ, Can-Am League, and Pittsburgh’s John Holdzkom, Amarillo, TX, and Sioux City, IA, both in the American Association.




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Monday, September 22, 2014

AFTER SIX-GAME SERIES, YORK AND SUGAR LAND NOW SQUARE OFF IN ATLANTIC LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

The York (PA) Revolution should have a pretty good idea of the best restaurants near their hotel in Sugar Land, TX.

Mark Mason’s gang got to Sugar Land last Tuesday (September 16) to begin a season-ending six-game series against the Skeeters, and now the Revolution are there for the first two games of the best-of-five Freedom Division playoff series starting one week later (Tuesday, September 23). Playing long series in Sugar Land is one of the quirks in the Atlantic League schedule until it can add more teams in that region.

Sugar Land confidence should be running high since the Skeeters won four of six from York (four of the last five, actually) to capture the second half divisional title. For anyone scratching their head to figure out how Sugar Land won the half-season championship when it actually finished tied with Lancaster, PA, the answer is that the Skeeters won five of nine second-half games from the Barnstormers. The two teams split 20 decisions over the entire campaign.

Lancaster’s prize for becoming the wild-card entry in the four-team playoffs is to open with Games 1 and 2 against Somerset, NJ for the Liberty Division title at home. Somerset, which won both halves, will have the remaining games in the five-game set back in New Jersey.

RUCINSKI GETS LENGTHY STINT FOR ANGELS

New major leaguer Drew Rucinski, who spent all of 2012 plus parts of ’11 and ’13 in the Frontier League (Rockford, IL), got an extended outing from the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend. The 25-year-old out of Ohio State hurled four innings at home against Texas, allowing three hits and a walk plus two earned runs. The right-hander struck out five.

Rucinski, 10-6, 3.15 in 26 starts for Class AA Arkansas this summer, also faced Texas in his only other major league appearance so far, giving up two runs in an inning of work back on July 10.

GREAT POWER SEASON FOR MATT FIELDS

Matt Fields, a onetime Independent Baseball player at Southern Illinois (Marion) of the Frontier League, has pounded 59 home runs the last two seasons in the Kansas City farm system without getting any time with the parent Royals. A first baseman-designated hitter, the 6-foot-5, 235 pounder, hit 28 homers and drove in 81 runs for Omaha this season, then helped the Storm Chasers all the way to the Triple-A championship. He was 1-for-4 in the 4-2 win over Pawtucket, RI (Red Sox) in the title game between the two AAA league winners. The 29-year-old Fields improved his average by 40 points to .262 at Omaha after a 31-homer output when he hit .222 for Double-A Northwest Arkansas one year ago.


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