The latest examples are seen in the likelihood rookie lefty Andrew Albers, who made a strong comeback in the Can-Am League (Quebec) after elbow surgery, is going to end up pitching in Korea this season and in comments directly from the Twins.
Multiple media reports out of the Twins cities indicate Albers has agreed to join the Hanwha Eagles, probably for about $1 million in salary, although the Twins and Eagles must first finalize the compensation the Twins will receive, which could be as much as Albers’ take.
It is fair to ask why Albers, whose summer with the Capitales was in 2010, would go abroad after reaching the majors for the first time last season (he broke in with 17.1 scoreless innings in two dominant starts; a 5.70 ERA in his other eight starts), but he is far from assured of retaining a spot on the major league roster and a $1 million salary would double what he would make even in the majors. He is 28 so that has to sound like nice security at this stage in his career, and he would come back after the season as a free agent available to all 30 major league organizations.
Meanwhile, Minnesota’s minor league director of operations, Brad Steil, had glowing praise for the Independent leagues when speaking at a hot stove luncheon for the team’s Double-A farm club, New Britain, CT, last week: “I think you’ve seen not just in our organization but in other (major league) organizations as well, when you run into injuries during the season, there aren’t a lot of guys out there on the street that you can sign and plug into Double-A,” Steil said, according to The Hartford Courant. “The Independent leagues are a good resource for that, and I think the best players in those leagues are worth signing and have a chance to make it to the big leagues.”
First baseman-outfielder Chris Colabello (Can-Am League) and lefty reliever Caleb Thielbar (St. Paul, MN, American Association) joined Albers in debuting with the Twins last season, then they picked up another lefty, Kris Johnson (Kansas City, KS, American Association), who had broken in with Pittsburgh during ’13 over the offseason, and also signed Independent Player of the Year (Baseball America) C. J. Ziegler (Wichita, KS, American Association).
“It’s (Korea) a good opportunity for Andrew,” his agent, Blake Corosky, told The Minnesota StarTribune. Albers is due to make various appearances in the Twin Cities this weekend, including TwinsFest where he will be honored as the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year for his 11-5, 2.86 record in 22 Triple-A starts (Rochester, NY) before he was promoted to the American League team.
FORMER ATLANTIC LEAGUER RECOGNIZED AT MLB CHARITY DINNER
Major League Baseball held the 25th annual Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) banquet on a snowy night in New York City this week to honor Commissioner Bud Selig and such major league stars as Michael Young and Jimmy Rollins for their contributions, and cited onetime Atlantic League (and major league) outfielder Tike Redman and his family as an example of those who have received major help from the charity.
Redman, who played for the Atlantic League teams in York, PA, Newark, NJ and Bridgeport, CT during his 16-year professional career, his wife Lesley and their children Jalyn, Imani and Justus were introduced to the black-tie audience. The Redmans had their mortgage and utilities covered in two consecutive six-month grants by B.A.T. during a time when Jalyn had undergone cancer surgery and more than a year of chemotherapy and their bills piled up. Jalyn recently celebrated four years of being cancer free.
LEW FORD, JAIRO PEREZ HELP OUT IN DOMINICAN PLAYOFFS
I went on my iPad just in time last night to see Lew Ford break up a scoreless tie in the ninth inning of a Dominican Winter League playoff game with a ringing double to left off former Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney, now a free agent. Ford, who has played for the Long Island (NY) Ducks (Atlantic League) in recent years when not with a major league organization, helped Licey to a 1-0 victory.
Another of the Tigres’ stars is Jairo Perez, a .309-19-72 hitter in the American Association (Kansas City, KS) last season. The last I saw the infielder was hitting .342 for Licey with a .407 on-base percentage.
Dylan Axelrod’s new contract with the Chicago White Sox is a minor league pact even though the 28-year-old right-hander spent all of last season with the parent teams (4-11, 5.68 in 30 games, including 20 starts), but he is the most recent player with Independent league experience to get a major league spring training invitation. Axelrod’s Indy days were spent with Windy City (Frontier League), just outside of Chicago.
SUBSCRIBE TO THE INDEPENDENT BASEBALL INSIDER. Only $48 for 2014. Scouts: $28
Get the independent minor league baseball trivia question of the day by clicking this link: Independent Minor League Baseball Trivia Questions