Monday, July 02, 2007


What does the second year United League have in common with its much older brethren, the Atlantic, Frontier and American Association?

For one thing, the United now joins the other three Independent Baseball leagues by being able to boast that it has graduates wearing a major league uniform.

Edwar Ramirez, the slender relief pitcher who has been racking up stunning strikeout totals wherever he has pitched the last three seasons, has joined the struggling New York Yankees. "You can't argue with the numbers," Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman told The New York Times.

It was less than a year ago (July 9) when the Yankees bought Ramirez from the United League's Edinburg (TX) Coyotes, where he struck out 46 hitters in 25 innings while saving 16 games and winning another and posting a 1.07 earned run average. The 26-year-old Dominican righthander started his dazzling strikeout spree in another Independent city, Pensacola, FL in 2005, whiffing 93 hitters in only 43 innings. Pensacola is in the American Association today, but it was part of the Central League at the time, and Ramirez was between two stints in the Los Angeles Angels farm system.

Ramirez struck out 80 in 43.1 innings this season for the Yankees with time split between Double-A Trenton, NJ and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, PA. Hitters were limited to a .128 average and his combined ERA was 0.62.

While Ramirez's growth has been mostly in Independent Leagues, Chris Coste started in the Prairie League (no longer active), then went to hometown Fargo, ND in the Northern League. The catcher-infielder is back for third stint in two years with Philadelphia, and didn't wait long to make a statement, homering as a pinch hitter in his first time back in the majors Friday during a big showdown series with the Mets. The 34-year-old Coste has his lifetime big-league average up to .330, including a 3-for-8 performance this season. Will he get to stay this time?

Stay tuned. Meanwhile, both Coste and Ramirez are making great statements for the Independent game.

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