One such player is right-hander Travis Schlichting, who has gone from a struggling reliever in Triple-A for the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer (5-3, four saves, 7.10 ERA in 51 games) to the earned run average leader in Puerto Rico (2-0, 0.92) and from a free agent to a new signee with Oakland that includes an invitation to the major league spring training camp.
Schlichting, now 27, started out as an infielder taken in the fourth round of the '03draft by Tampa Bay, and did not fully convert to pitching until he spent 2007 with the Kansas City (KS) T-Bones now in the American Association but a Northern League team at the time. The Round Rock, TX high school product was only 1-2, 5.29 with the T-Bones, but he fanned 47 hitters in 51 innings and was just getting the feel of pitching.
By 2009-10, the 6-foot-4 hurler got into 16 games with the parent Dodgers (1-0, 3.55). Now, he has a chance to rebound with the rebuilding Athletics.
We will feature several more of the outstanding winter league performances by Indy players past and perhaps future in Thursday's subscriber-only Independent Baseball Insider column. Several of them are free agents at present.
SHERRILL, COELLO ALSO HAVE NEW DEALS
It was hardly a surprise that George Sherrill, almost certainly the best pitcher to throw his first professional pitch from an Independent mound (Evansville, IN, Frontier League), got a new major league contract, but it was interesting to see the lefty specialist return to Seattle, where he got his first big-league time.
Sherrill initially joined the Mariners after stints in two current American Association cities (Sioux Falls, SD and Winnipeg, Canada) when both were in the Northern League. He was with the Atlanta Braves last season.
Robert Coello, who was in the Chicago Cubs farm system last summer, is another recent signee (Toronto) who now has an invitation to major league spring training. This righty, who toiled for the Canadian cities of Edmonton and Calgary when they were in the Golden League (Edmonton now is in the North American), got his first major league time (six games) with Boston in 2010.
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