With both the Arizona Winter League and the Caribbean World Series (MLB Network) edging the baseball-starved among us closer to spring, I wanted to take a final look back at a few of the numbers put up in winter leagues by Independent players.
Two who really blistered Veracruz Winter League pitching in Mexico were Jayson Bass (.429 batting average, 14 homers, 52 RBI) and Jermy Acey, who was almost as hot at .412 (five homers, 30 RBI). Bass spent some time at Nashua, NH in the Can-Am League in 2006 while Acey has been with the Pride, Rio Grande Valley and Edinburg, TX in the United League and in 2008 was an energizing .374 for the Golden League champion Orange County Flyers (Fullerton, CA).
On the mound, former Can-Am leaguer Josue Matos (North Shore, Lynn, MA) warmed up for his effort to pitch for Puerto Rico in next month's World Baseball Classic with a 5-2, 2.89 performance in 53 winter innings. Indy original Chris Jakubauskas got in 66.1 innings in Venezuela as a tuneup for his spring training invitation from the parent Seattle Mariners. He was a so-so 4-5, 5.16. Jakubauskas has spent the last year and a half in the Seattle farm system after being signed out of Lincoln, NE of the American Association. He also has pitched in the Frontier League (Florence, KY and Ohio Valley) and the Golden League (Fullerton).
Four other hurlers with American Association experience had solid numbers in Mexico. Brian Campbell (Lincoln) was 6-2, 2.94, Alexander Francisco (Sioux City, IA) had a brilliant 1.17 ERA and won seven of his eight decisions, Jarrett Gardner (Lincoln) was 7-4, 3.33 and Matt Pike (St. Paul, MN) saved 10 games to go along with a 2-1 record and 2.25 ERA. Pike pitched for Bridgeport, CT of the Atlantic League in 2008, and also has made Indy stops at Elmira, NY, New Jersey (Little Falls) and Atlantic City, NJ.