It is my solemn duty as a regular typist on the subject of Independent Baseball (i.e. Every Thursday's Independent Baseball Insider column as well as this blog) to suggest the story I am about to relate should be posted on every clubhouse bulletin board.
Ole Sheldon is a 26-year-old first baseman recently signed by his second major league organization. He was drafted in 2004 by the Houston Astros, and just had his contract purchased from the American Association's St. Paul (MN) Saints by the Cleveland Indians. As he was leaving the Saints he offered these thoughts:
"Playing with the Saints is the most fun I've had in baseball since my time at the University of Oklahoma and that includes my five years in the Astros organization. I can't say enough good things about the atmosphere with the Saints and playing for George (Tsamis). He makes you compete and I enjoyed the experience. On top of that, George helped me a lot in getting back to affiliated ball."
What a walking billboard for the Indy game. So many players have said the same thing in recent years. They genuinely enjoy the spirit of winning that goes on in the Independent world, and one can only hope everyone is treated as royally as Sheldon feels about his St. Paul experience.
By the way, this product of Roseburg, OR went 4-for-5 in only his third game in the Carolina League Sunday (Kinston, NC) with a double and two runs batted in. He is hitting .385 (5-for-13), after pounding away at a .340 clip with six homers and 19 RBI in 30 games for St. Paul.
THE YANKEE WHO GOT AWAY
Jonathan Poterson could not have been terribly happy when he left the New York Yankees organization three years after they tabbed him in the first round of the free agent draft (37th selection nationally). The switch-hitting first baseman-outfielder could not say he did not get an opportunity since he was in 215 games in five stops during his three years in which he only hit above .200 twice (.202 and .247). But, hey, he was barely 20 years old in that last season.
Poterson spent the next two summers in the independent Frontier League, hitting .231 and .215, respectively, for Chillicothe, OH, with 33 doubles and 12 home runs.
Now 23, could the pride of Gilbert, AZ be starting to put it together, much as champion Lucas Glover, Ricky Barnes and the comebacking David Duval did in the U.S. Open? Poterson has hit seven round-trippers in his last nine games for Rio Grande Valley (Harlingen, TX) of the United League, and in back-to-back games last weekend he homered on four consecutive at-bats. Playing third base for the first time in his professional career, Poterson is hitting .308 through the first 11 games with nine of his 12 hits for extra bases. He has driven in a dozen runs and, not surprisingly, sit atop the league with his seven home runs.
He still has time to continue maturing and heading up the baseball ladder.