Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Aaron Wilkerson's recent promotion to the postseason-hopeful Milwaukee Brewers should have brought a double dose of happiness the everyone in an Independent league.

First, it meant the non-major-league-affiliated leagues equaled the record set one year ago when 45 players who have worn one or more Indy league uniforms have been in the major leagues this season.
But Wilkerson started his professional career in an Indy league, a feat only shared by three active big-leaguers (James Paxton, Tanner Roark and Max Scherzer along with Stephen Drew and Daniel Nava, both currently on disabled lists).

Wilkerson has been touted as a potential major leaguer for some time now, but that was not the case back in 2011 when his career was stalled--threatened, one might say--when the Cumberland University product (Lebanon, TN) was sidelined to undergo the dreaded Tommy John surgery.  He did not pitch for nearly two years, with some of his time spent working in the grocery store.

The 28-year-old Wilkerson went undrafted, with the elbow injury playing an obvious role.  So he worked his way through three leagues in 2013 and Boston finally gave him an opportunity the next season out of the American Association (Grand Prairie, TX).  (He also worked in the United and Frontier Leagues.)

The Red Sox nurtured his development from the rookie New York-Penn League to its top farm club in Pawtucket, RI before reluctantly giving the 6-foot-3 hurler up midway in the 2016 season as part of a 2-for-1 swap that netted the Fenway Park residents needed experience in the form of veteran infielder Aaron Hill.

"It (reaching the majors) means the world," Wilkerson told MLB.com.  "It's almost surreal right now."

Wilkerson earned the trip to the majors by allowing only 117 hits in 142.1 innings and winning 11 of 15 decisions (3.16 ERA) this summer for Double-A Biloxi, MS, then throwing seven no-hit innings with 11 strikeouts for Triple-A Colorado Springs in a Pacific Coast League playoff game.

The right-hander has worked twice for manager Craig Counsell so far, a two-strikeout inning in relief and a start.  He has allowed four hits and three runs in 3.1 innings with more work possible yet this week.

Wilkerson is the 46th player to start in an Independent League and make it all the way to the majors, according to records maintained by IndyBaseballChatter.com.  Thirty-three of them are pitchers. 

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Friday, September 15, 2017


When a record 45 players who had been in Independent Baseball leagues made their way onto major league rosters last season one had to wonder how high this number might grow because of the continued purchasing from the non-affiliated leagues at a rapid pace.

The record has not been eclipsed as the end of the campaign nears, but when Philadelphia added veteran right-hander Henderson Alvarez to its major league roster the count for 2017 is within one of the high-water mark, based on records maintained by IndyBaseballChatter.

Another intriguing development has emerged this year.  No less than four players who have spent at least part of the current season in an Indy league have already been added to active major league duty.  It isn't the first time this has happened--think of the likes of pitcher Jose Lima, who rebounded back to the majors and dazzled as a starter for a time in 2003--but it has been somewhat of a rarity in recent years.

The Atlantic League can take credit for all four of this year's players, with three of them somewhat shockingly appearing with the same team, the Long Island Ducks.  In addition to Alvarez, the Ducks have produced outfielder Quintin Berry for the postseason-hopeful Milwaukee Brewers and right-hander Tim Melville was in the majors for a time.  Somerset, NJ, which long has been another favorite site where major league organizations find talent, had pitcher Tyler Cloyd go from their roster and shortly end up with the parent Seattle Mariners this season.

Of the 44 players with Independent experience who have been in the majors this season, 30 still are on active rosters with another four on the disabled list.  Seven others have returned to the minor leagues and three have been released.

Five pitchers got their initial major league experience this season with Austin Bibens-Dirkx (Lancaster, PA, Atlantic League, and Victoria, BC, Golden League) with Texas, John Brebbia (Sioux Falls, SD and Laredo, TX, in the American Association) with St. Louis,  Ariel Hernandez (Frontier League Greys) with Cincinnati, Edward Paredes (York, PA, Atlantic League) with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Nik Turley (Somerset) with Minnesota.  All five are still in the majors.

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