Headline-grabbing news helps any startup endeavor, and the Golden League is getting exactly that in the first week of its initial winter league season.
What could be better than to have its first player signed by a major league organization? I wouldn't think anything could top that for the players who have plunked down some cash for the opportunity to jump-start their professional career by playing in the month-long season.
Then throw in a no-hitter just six days into the season.
Neither player is exactly a professional neophyte, as many of the players are, but that probably is of little issue to either Golden League brass or the other players. Getting noticed is what is important to both the league and the teams.
Baltimore struck first with a signing, inking onetime Big Ten Player of the Year and 2002 San Diego third round draftee Kennard Jones. The 25-year-old, a left-handed centerfielder, started last season at Double-A Mobile, then was promoted to Triple-A Portland at the start of June. The onetime Indiana University star was under contract to Les Lancaster's Reno, NV Golden League club. The Golden League says the Orioles have given Jones permission to finish the winter league season.
While Jones's only Independent Baseball experience may well be the winter league, the no-hitter was thrown by Reggie Rivard, who has strung up a 12-10 record the last two seasons while starting for the Northern's League's Edmonton Cracker-Cats. Rivard, 28, was deprived of a perfect game by three infield errors. The righthander, who also has played as high as Triple-A, struck out five in the seven-inning complete game performance.