This one is going to introduce a really novel undertaking for the Independent game, and stands to be a sizeable benefit for players and for major league organizations.
In the meantime, this is a very busy time of year for players who have left the Indy ranks and joined one of the 30 MLB systems. So many players are six-year free agents, as always happens this time of year, and there is the opportunity to try to sign with an organization where the path to the major leagues seems more promising. Of course, it also means the end of the major league dreams (at least for now) if players do not get picked up by their previous farm system or another one.
JAKUBAUSKAS, HERNANDEZ GET NEW DEALS
Chris Jakubauskas, who spent much of the season pitching for the Baltimore Orioles, has re-connected, this time signing a minor league pact with Arizona. I would imagine he will get an invitation to major league camp because of his experience with Seattle, Pittsburgh and the Orioles.
Jakubauskas's success means that much more to the Independent game since that is where he started his professional journey. He was in the Frontier League (Florence, KY and Ohio Valley) before going on to impress in the Golden League (Orange County) and in the American Association (Lincoln, NE). Technically, he is on the Reno, NV Triple-A roster.
Catcher Michel Hernandez, whose last major league opportunity was with Tampa Bay, became a free agent for a short time before returning to the Cleveland organization. The onetime Atlantic League backstop (Somerset, NJ) is on the Columbus, OH roster.
SIX-YEAR LIST IS LENGTHY
Onetime Chicago Cubs standout Mark Prior is, arguably, the best known of the group of players who became free agents by virtue of their lengthy playing history. The right-hander, who got back on the baseball map after lengthy sidesteps with injuries when he pitched for Orange County (Fullerton, CA) of the Golden League, was in the New York Yankees' farm system this summer.
Other prominent names with major league experience who now are free agents include third baseman Pedro Feliz and pitchers Nelson Figueroa and Scott Patterson. The latter just finished a stint with Team USA. Infielder Erick Almonte, who shocked most everyone by earning an Opening Day job with Milwaukee this spring, also is on the list.
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