While many of the invitees have some major league time or have at least been in major league camps, Leverton only got to Triple-A for the first time last season and Minicozzi still has not been above Double-A. Both were in Independent leagues as recently as 2011.
Leverton could be the latest to emerge from Joe Calfapietra’s New Jersey Jackals (Can-Am League). The Jackals have proven to provide fertile ground for future major leaguers in the past. At 27, onetime Texas Tech reliever Leverton joined the Jackals in ’11 after a 10-1 season and a pink slip after pitching for three Chicago Cubs minor league clubs the previous year. He put together an 8-4, 2.38 effort in 13 starts for New Jersey before signing with the Marlins. Leverton was back in the bullpen almost exclusively last summer with his best work for Triple-A New Orleans, going 3-2, 2.66 with a pair of saves and almost a strikeout per inning in 30 outings.
Minicozzi, soon to turn 31, had a strong offensive season in the Eastern League last season, hitting .309 with 30 doubles, 10 homers and 66 RBI for Richmond, VA. A versatile player who can see action in the infield or outfield, he first tasted Independent Baseball in ’09 when he split the year between Winnipeg and Kansas City, KS of the American Association. He hit .317 and .328 for Worcester, MA (Can-Am) in ’10 and ’11 and played briefly for Camden, NJ (Atlantic League).
LIVELY, IAN THOMAS AMONG OTHER INVITEES
Right-hander Mitch Lively (San Angelo, TX, United League), coming off a strong winter baseball campaign, and lefty Ian Thomas (York, PA, Atlantic League, and Winnipeg) have major league invitations from San Francisco and Atlanta, respectively. Others with recent invites include catchers Eddy Rodriguez (Sioux Falls, SD, and El Paso, TX, American Association) with Tampa Bay and Jose Yepez (Pensacola, FL, American Association, and Gary, IN, then in the Northern League) with Atlanta and outfielder Justin Christian (Southern Maryland, Atlantic, and River City, Frontier) with the Rays.
I would expect RHP Dylan Axelrod (Windy City, Frontier) to be in the Chicago White Sox camp since he spent virtually all of last season with the Southsiders and recently signed a free agent minor league deal with the team.
Thomas and Christian both started their pro career in an Indy league.
ONE MORE BIG HURDLE PASSED IN JOPLIN
The Joplin City Council moved another step closer to taking in an American Association team in 2015 by approving a plan this week that will involve the Missouri community taking on $1.8 million in debt for the project.
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