I had a pleasant surprise in the form of an email from SABR member Robert Schulz today.
He had seen the list of former Independent Baseball players who later reached the major leagues in my book, Independent Minor Leagues: 2007 Season in Review, and pointed out four omissions. I am grateful because I felt all along some players may have been left out, especially from leagues that no longer exist.
This was the case in Schulz's findings. All four had been in the Western League between 1995 and 1998.
Cuban defector Ariel Prieto signed with Palm Springs in 1995 for longtime Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager Al Campanis, and quickly rang up a 4-0 record and a 0.97 earned run average in six appearances. He was in the major leagues later that season with Oakland, and eventually posted a 15-24 major league record.
Two other pitchers, Joe Strong and Chad Zerbe, had brief major league time with Florida and San Francisco, respectively. Strong had been with Surrey in the Western League and Zerbe with Sonoma. First baseman Graham Koonce was with Tri-City of the Western League in 1997, and he hit .331 in fulltime duty with Chico the next season. He got into six major league games (1-for-8) with Oakland in 2003.
The addition of the quartet brings the list of players who climbed to the majors after having been in Independent Baseball to at least 135. Thirty-two of them started in an Independent league, including Prieto and hurler Chris Jakubauskas, who debuted with Seattle earlier this season.
The list is certain to keep growing, with newcomers and possibly others who have been overlooked.