Friday, April 17, 2015


Atlanta’s Brandon Cunniff has the distinction of being the first graduate of Independent Baseball to make his major league debut in this young season, and what a trial he is getting.

The 26-year-old right-handed reliever has made six appearances within a nine-day span since joining the Braves, and has yet to surrender any hits. He has been charged with four walks (five strikeouts) and one run in 5.2 innings (1.59), and has picked up one victory.

Cunniff was drafted by Miami, but only found work in 18 games before being released. The next two plus seasons (’11-’13) were spent in the Frontier League (River City and Southern Illinois).

Major League Count Up to 203

Records maintained exclusively by and the Independent Baseball Insider now show 203 players have made their way from Independent Baseball to the majors (1993-2015).

The 2015 major league count is down slightly this season with 15 players active and five others on disabled lists. The complete list, including major league affiliation and previous Independent team(s), with those who started in an Independent league identified with an asterisk:

Pitchers (11 + 4 on DL)—Craig Breslow, Boston (New Jersey, Northeast League); Brandon Cunniff, Atlanta (River City and Southern Illinois, Frontier League); *#Aaron Crow, Miami (Fort Worth, American Association); Luis Garcia, Philadelphia (Newark, Can-Am League); *#Luke Hochevar, Kansas City (Fort Worth); Scott Kazmir, Oakland (Sugar Land, Atlantic League); *Chris Martin, New York-AL (Grand Prairie, American Association); *James Paxton, Seattle (Grand Prairie); *Tanner Roark, Washington (Southern Illinois); *#Tanner Scheppers, Texas (St. Paul, American Association); *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth); *Joe Thatcher, Houston (River City); #Tom Wilhelmsen, Seattle (Tucson, Golden League); Jerome Williams, Philadelphia (Lancaster, Atlantic, and Long Beach, Golden); Brad Ziegler, Arizona (Schaumburg, Northern League).

Position Players (4 +1 on DL) –*2B Stephen Drew, New York-AL (Camden, Atlantic); OF-1B *Daniel Nava, Boston (Chico, Golden); David Peralta, Arizona (Amarillo and Wichita, American Association, and Rio Grande Valley, North American); #Antoan Richardson, Texas (Schaumburg); C Rene Rivera, Tampa Bay (Camden).

#Is on the disabled list.

Several Signed Before Season Starts

Major league organizations are not even waiting for Independent seasons to start to sign players off the non-affiliated rosters. We can count at least five of these cases, including 5-foot-8 lefty Jhonathan Ramos, whose contract was purchased from Wichita, KS (American Association) by Baltimore. The Venezuelan, 25, has pitched as high as Triple-A and started the year with a 29-18 career record for six seasons.

The first Independent Baseball action of ’15 comes next Thursday and Friday in the Atlantic League.

Get the independent minor league baseball trivia question of the day by clicking this link: Independent Minor League Baseball Trivia Questions

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