Wednesday, February 03, 2016

INDEPENDENT PLAYERS INVOLVED IN CARIBBEAN SERIES AND WBC

The Caribbean Series always signals excitement for various reasons.

Countries involved have so much passion for baseball, and the series, this year being contested in the Dominican Republic, also leads the Baseball World into a brand new season.

Independent Baseball fans should find considerable enjoyment since a nice number of its former (and sometimes current) players are getting additional exposure.

While we likely will miss a few players, here are some of the Independent players on the current 28-man rosters with their major league affiliation (if any) in parenthesis.

Dominican: OF Lew Ford, Long Island, Atlantic League.

Mexico: 1B Cyle Hankerd, Amarillo, American Association, and Southern Maryland, Atlantic League.

Puerto Rico: LHP Andrew Barbosa (New York-NL) Long Island; RHP Chris Smith (Toronto) Lake Erie, Traverse City and Washington, Frontier League, and White Sands, Pecos League.

Venezuela: RHP Omar Bencomo, Laredo and Wichita, American Association; RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Victoria, Golden League; RHP Marcus Walden (Minnesota), Lancaster, Atlantic League; OF Jose Martinez (Kansas City major league roster), Rockford, Frontier League; OF Teodoro Martinez, Rockford.

Cuba: None.

WBC QUALIFIER ALSO HAS INDY STARS

The first of four qualifying tournaments for next year's World Baseball Classic begins February 11 in Australia, and it also will have some Independent players. They include:

Australia: RHP Ryan Searle, Grand Prairie, American Association; C Allan de San Miguel, Southern Maryland, Atlantic League.

Philippines: 1B Angelo Songco (Los Angeles-NL), St. Paul, American Association.

South Africa: SS Anthony Phillips (Los Angeles-NL), St. Paul.

New Zealand rounds out this qualifier with only the championship team advancing to the WBC.

SPRING TRAINING COUNT UP TO 46

Former Atlantic League players Robert Andino of Somerset, an infielder, and LHP Pat Misch of Lancaster are the most recent additions among Independent players who have received invitations to major league spring training camps. Andino signed with Miami after the '15 season while Misch was inked by Milwaukee. We now can identify 46 former Independent players who will be in major league camps. We will post the entire roster before camps open.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

44 FORMER INDY PLAYERS DUE IN MAJOR LEAGUE CAMPS WITH MORE EXPECTED

With the joyful start of major league spring training only three weeks away, it is time to get serious in tracking former stars of the Independent leagues who are now involved (or recently have been) with any of the 30 American or National League organizations.

Non-roster invitations are coming in at a good pace now, and we can report that 44 players who have been in Independent leagues are already ticketed for major league camps. Twenty-five of them are on 40-man rosters and the other 19 are invitees. The latter number almost certainly will grow, and it is possible more roster slots may be taken in the near future because steady major leaguers Craig Breslow, Aaron Crow and Jerome Williams still are free agents.

This is the only place where baseball people and fans are likely to get the entire roster of these two groups. We will post it before pitchers and catchers start camp.

60 Free Agents

Player personnel bosses will likely want to peruse our list of 60 onetime Independent players who have become free agents since last season and have not re-signed although a few of these people likely will retire, turn to coaching or are injured. The complete list maintained by the Independent Baseball Insider follows:

Right-Handed Pitchers (19): Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Derek Blacksher, Brian Broderick, Zach Cooper, Aaron Crow, Charles Fisher, Parker Frazier, Mark Hamburger, Jeff Howell, Chad James, Kenn Kasparek, Mike Lee, Marcel Prado, Edwin Quirarte, Mike Recchia, Cody Satterwhite, Robert Stock, Dakota Watts, Jerome Williams.
Left-Handed Pitchers (13): Andrew Albers, Mike Antonini, Sean Bierman, Craig Breslow, Matt Bywater, Aaron Dott, Trevor Lubking, Ronan Pacheco, Jhonathan Ramos, Dustin Richardson, Greg Smith, Caleb Thielbar, Fabian Williamson.
Catchers (6): Brandon Bantz, Jose Gil, Jose Gonzalez, Ralph Henriquez, Ryan Ortiz, J.T. Wise.
Infielders (14): Brock Bond, Brooks Conrad, Chris Curley, Allan De San Miguel, Jonathan Galvez, Luis Hernandez, Kevin Howard, Michael Johnson, Daniel Mayora, Brock Peterson, Jonathan Roof, Nate Samson, Hainley Statia, Justin Toole.
Outfielders (8): Jeremy Barfield, Brian Burgamy, Jose Constanza, Robert Garner, Teodoro Martinez, Burt Reynolds, Trayvon Robinson, David Sappelt.

We welcome any adjustments to this list, with the suggestion that those comments be sent to this writer at RWirz@aol.com.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY FOR 11 INDEPENDENT PLAYERS IN FORM OF MAJOR LEAGUE SPRING TRAINING INVITATIONS

While it has become customary for at least a couple dozen players who have been in Independent leagues recently to receive non-roster invitations to major league spring training camps, the early pace of these opportunities is something I cannot remember in my writing about the unaffiliated leagues since 2003.

No less than 11 such spring training invitations have crossed this desk in the last two weeks, with many more virtually certain to come when organizations start releasing their full roster of invitees in January and early February. With 23 former Indy players, including seven who started out in the unaffiliated leagues, currently on 40-man rosters, this means we know of 34 players with Indy experience who will report to major league camps.

Free agents Craig Breslow, Aaron Crow, Stephen Drew, Scott Kazmir and Jerome Williams will almost surely be added along with quite a few players who are on Triple-A rosters or still are minor league free agents.

The most impressive announcements among the invitees at this point probably are left-handed pitchers Dan Runzler and Buddy Boshers since both finished the '15 season in the Atlantic League. Minnesota signed this pair as the Twins seek left-handed bullpen help. Runzler pitched at Sugar Land, TX and Boshers was with Atlantic League champion Somerset, NJ. Another southpaw, Rich Hill, who pitched briefly for Long Island, NY in the Atlantic League last season, signed at $6 million contract with Oakland earlier in the fall. He is on the major league roster.

The other non-roster invitees we know of so far, including their position, organization and their Independent teams: RHP Tim Adleman, Cincinnati (New Jersey, Can-Am League; El Paso, TX and Lincoln, NE, American Association); RHP Dylan Axelrod, Miami (Windy City, Crestwood, IL, Frontier League); OF Joe Benson, Minnesota (Sugar Land); RHP Greg Burke, Philadelphia (Atlantic City, NJ, Atlantic League); RHP Jarrett Grube, Cleveland (Southern Maryland, Atlantic); RHP Logan Kensing, Detroit (Bridgeport, CT, Atlantic); RHP Brandon Kintzler, Minnesota (St. Paul, MN, American Association, and Winnipeg, Northern League); 1B-OF Reynaldo Rodriguez, Minnesota (Yuma, AZ, Golden League); LHP Joe Thatcher, Cleveland (River City, O'Fallon, MO, Frontier).

NEARLY 100 SIGNED OUT OF INDEPENDENT LEAGUES

Should anyone believe signings by major league organizations out of Independent leagues have diminished of late, they should think again. Records maintained by www.IndyBaseballChatter.com show 82 of these signings just since the end of last spring training, and that only includes players currently in major league systems and those who became free agents at the end of the season. Other players were signed in this span of time and later released.



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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

CARE TO GUESS THE NUMBER OF FANS WHO HAVE ATTENDED INDEPENDENT BASEBALL GAMES SINCE 1993?

Miles Wolff and the other original investors who introduced modern day Independent Baseball back in 1993 should take delight in this number: 133,648,422.

Have a clue what it means?

That is the number of people who are believed to have attended an Independent league game these last 23 years. Yes, nearly 134 million.

David Kronheim of NumberTamer.com has meticulously come up with this number, based mostly on reports to official league statisticians with some supplemental reports, where necessary, from a few teams and leagues that did not send their attendance figures in to authorities. Actually, if every person could be counted from every league, including those that started and quickly disappeared, the number would be somewhat higher.

The top season, based on Kronheim’s diligence, was 2007 when 8,484,921 noses were counted. The total has ranged from almost 6.2 million to more than 7.1 the last five seasons through the stability of the established leagues. This year’s count has reached 6,318,729, which is about 150,000 ahead of one year ago.

ROSTER OF PLAYERS GAINS A NEW NAME

Major league teams are beginning the march toward settling their 40-man rosters prior to next month’s Winter Meetings with one new name from the Indy ranks.

The New York Mets promoted left-handed pitcher Josh Smoker, who was signed out of Rockford, IL of the Frontier League in 2014. Smoker is one of 23 onetime Indy players now with the coveted 40-man roster slots. This does not count half a dozen players who finished ’15 in the majors, but have now declared free agency. That group is made up of LHPs Craig Breslow Rich Hill, Scott Kazmir and Joe Thatcher, RHP Jerome Williams and 2B Stephen Drew.

While tracking numbers, 37 Independent players were active on major league rosters during the past season. That is four fewer than 2014’s record of 41.

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Friday, June 05, 2015

30 INDY PLAYERS HAVE PLAYED IN THE MAJORS THIS SEASON; RECORD WITHIN REACH

Independent Baseball has already seen 30 of its former players wear major league uniforms with the season about one-third gone and two others have been on the disabled list all year which certainly gives these leagues an opportunity to top the record of 41 who got to experience this thrill one year ago.

Pitchers continue to dominate with 26 of the 32 moundsmen. The list of players active or on major league disabled lists today, with their current team and their Independent stops:

Pitchers ( 17 + 3 on DL)—Craig Breslow, Boston (New Jersey, Northeast League); *#Aaron Crow, Miami (Fort Worth, American Association); Brandon Cunniff, Atlanta (River City and Southern Illinois, Frontier League); Steve Delabar, Toronto (Brockton, Can-Am League, and Florence, Frontier); Jon Edwards, Texas (San Angelo, North American League, and Alpine, Pecos League); Luis Garcia, Philadelphia (Newark, Can-Am); *Luke Hochevar, Kansas City (Fort Worth); Scott Kazmir, Oakland (Sugar Land, Atlantic League); #Brandon Kintzler, Milwaukee (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, Northern League); Vidal Nuno, Seattle (Washington, Frontier); *#James Paxton, Seattle (Grand Prairie, American Association); *Tanner Roark, Washington (Southern Illinois); Chaz Roe, Baltimore (Laredo, American Association); *Tanner Scheppers, Texas (St. Paul); *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth); Bo Schultz, Toronto (Grand Prairie); *Joe Thatcher, Houston (River City); Tom Wilhelmsen, Seattle (Tucson, Golden League); Jerome Williams, Philadelphia (Lancaster, Atlantic, and Long Beach, Golden); Brad Ziegler, Arizona (Schaumburg, Northern League).

Position Players (4 + 2 on DL) – 1B-OF Chris Colabello, Toronto (Worcester and Nashua, Can-Am); *2B Stephen Drew, New York-AL (Camden, Atlantic); OF-1B *#Daniel Nava, Boston (Chico, Golden); OF David Peralta, Arizona (Amarillo and Wichita, American Association, and Rio Grande Valley, North American); OF #Antoan Richardson, Texas (Schaumburg, Northern); C Rene Rivera, Tampa Bay (Camden).

Pitchers with major league time in ’15 who are currently in the minor leagues (6)–Andrew Albers, Toronto/Buffalo (Quebec, Can-Am); Angel Castro, Oakland/Nashville (Lincoln, American Association); *Chris Martin, New York-AL/Scranton (Grand Prairie); Drew Rucinski, Los Angeles-AL/Salt Lake (Rockford, Frontier); Caleb Thielbar, Minnesota/Rochester (St. Paul); Ian Thomas, Los Angeles-NL/Oklahoma City (York, Atlantic).

Notes: Crow and Richardson have been on the DL the entire season; #Indicates is currently on the disabled list; *Indicates first pro game was in Independent Baseball.

IJAMES AMONG HOPEFULS

Nearly 200 former Independent Baseball players are in the affiliated minors today, every one of them hoping to get an eventual opportunity in the big leagues. One beginning to draw attention is outfielder Stewart Ijames, who was drafted twice but continued to play college baseball (Louisville) while trying for a higher selection that never came.

“It was the hardest thing I ever went through,” James told The Visalia (CA) Times Delta. “I can’t stress that enough. It was very hard. The one thing growing up that I was always good at was playing baseball, and I just assumed that it (being drafted again) was gonna be there, and I never thought that anything was gonna change. So that was the one thing that I learned from that–that baseball keeps going. Baseball does not need me. Baseball does not need Stewart Ijames. I need baseball to make myself feel complete.”

The former Frontier Leaguer (Washington, PA) is tied for second among California League players in home runs (12) and has 29 RBI and a .283 average for the Visalia Rawhide.

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