Put Brandon Kloess and Greg Burke on your watch list for February and March.
Burke, who got 48 major league appearances (3-3, two saves, 4.14) with San Diego in '08, bounced back nicely from injuries this past summer to register 17 saves (3-1, 1.53 in 44 games) for Baltimore's top two farm clubs. The 30-year-old, who had debuted with Atlantic City, NJ (Atlantic League) in 2005, became a free agent, and while there were indications the Orioles would try to re-sign the New Jersey native, in stepped the New York Mets. They signed Burke this week and quickly issued a major league spring training invitation.
Kloess, who doesn't turn 28 until next month, spent four seasons in the Chicago White Sox system after a debut period at Windy City (Crestwood, IL) in the Frontier League, and was part of a trade to San Diego this week. While he is not on the 40-man roster it is difficult to imagine him not logging spring training innings with the National League team since some San Diego media expressed that he gives the team "bullpen depth".
Kloess also worked with the White Sox's top two farm clubs in '12, and went 17-10 with 24 saves and a 2.39 earned run average in 132 career games (only five starts) during his time in their farm system.
THESE GUYS HAVE NEW CONTRACTS
Can-Am League product Chris Garcia (New Jersey Jackals), a first baseman, has been given a new contract by Atlanta and moved up from Class A to AA.
Catcher Scott Thomas, who has played in both the American Association (Shreveport, LA) and Atlantic League (Road Warriors), has a new contract at the Class A level in the Baltimore chain.
FREE AGENT COUNT INCREASING
With the annual release of six-year free agents, a sizeable group of onetime Independent players who have gone on to get some major league playing time, are now available: The list includes catchers Mike Rivera, Jose Yepez and Rene Rivera, pitcher Nelson Figueroa, outfielders Lew Ford and Felix Pie, third baseman Mike Costanzo, and first baseman-DH Valentino Pascucci. We will examine the free agent pool more in our subscription publication, the Independent Baseball Insider, next week.
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