Wednesday, September 26, 2018

CARDS' BREBBIA AND SAN DIEGO'S STOCK MAKE INDIES LOOK GOOD

The tedious nature of the National League races in the last five days of the regular season have several former Independent Baseball players on the edge of their seat whether they will be part of the postseason.

Be that as it may, two former Indy right-handers, one involved in the postseason scramble, seem to have really cemented their future for 2019 by virtue of this season's performances.

John Brebbia (Sioux Falls and Laredo in the American Association for two full seasons in 2014-15) has done so well in St. Louis's bullpen that some want him to be the Redbirds' closer in the future.  Robert Stock cannot fret over the postseason since his San Diego Padres are not involved, but this former Can-Am League hurler (New Jersey Jackals, 2016) surely is being counted on for next season.

Is he (Brebbia) even good was a question the blog Viva El Birdos asked itself?  "You better believe it. It’s been easy to miss this year, but between injuries and stints in (Triple-A) Memphis Brebbia has put up a tremendous season in the majors...Brebbia has struck out 25.9% of the batters he’s faced in his major league career (27.6% this year), comfortably above the major league average of around 22%. His 6.4% career walk rate complements the strikeouts quite well, and does a lot to account for his career 2.83 ERA.  It’s not smoke and mirrors, either. Brebbia’s arsenal consists of an excellent fastball and an excellent slider, both of which he uses roughly half the time.  He had posted a 1.72 ERA for his last 15 St. Louis outings entering play Wednesday.

Since being called up for his second major league stint July 20, Stock, The San Diego Tribune reported recently, "has thrown 28 innings over 18 appearances. He’s gone more than one inning in 10 of those appearances, including three innings twice and at least two innings five other times while consistently throwing in the high 90s. No other reliever in the majors averaging more than 96 mph on his fastball this season has thrown more than 23 innings since July 20.  Simply, no one does what Stock has done and continues to do. He loves it. 'I think it’s fun to try to be out there every single day.' He has a 2.61 ERA in his 31 total innings this season." Not bad coming from someone who was both a catcher and pitcher in college (at USC).

WATCH THEM IN THE POSTSEASON

Outfielder-first baseman Jose Martinez at St. Louis (Rockford, Frontier League) and pitchers Junior Guerra of Milwaukee (Wichita, American Association), Rich Hill of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Long Island, Atlantic League) and Brandon Kintzler of the Chicago Cubs (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, when it was in the Northern League), appear to be locks for rosters if their teams make it to the postseason.

Four others have enjoyed the final weeks of the regular season with contenders with some chance of being on active rosters in the playoffs.  They are catcher Rene Rivera with Atlanta (Camden, Atlantic) and hurlers Jon Edwards with Cleveland (Alpine, Pecos League, and San Angelo, North American League), D. J. Johnson with Colorado (Traverse City, Frontier) and Robby Scott with Boston (Yuma, North American).


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Thursday, September 20, 2018

NICE REVIEW OF 'THE PASSION OF BASEBALL' LEADS TO REDUCED PRICE


Since 'The Passion of Baseball', the 350-page book of my life in this wonderful game, just received a very nice review via the Readers' Favorite Award Contest (see below) and the two-year anniversary of publication comes up in a few days, we are offering an autographed copy at a reduced price of $16 until Oct. 17. Orders are filled promptly at www.WirzandAssociates.com.
Review #1: By Christian Sia of 'The Passion of Baseball' by Bob Wirz

Review Rating:
5 Stars - Congratulations on your 5-star review

Reviewed By Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews and Award Contest
The Passion of Baseball: A Journey to the Commissioner's Office of Major League Baseball by Bob Wirz is the story of the Kansas City Royals' first publicist, a man who spent more than a decade as spokesperson for commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth. Born in a small town in Nebraska, Bob Wirz dreamed of getting involved in major league baseball, and what follows is a breathtaking journey that will have readers mesmerized and utterly delighted. This is a tale of a dream come true, a journey from humble beginnings to great success. We encounter a young man passionate about baseball who eventually gets into the World Series, All-Star Game, and, surprisingly, the Hall of Fame. His success reaches its peak when he starts his own sports public relations and marketing firm, with major clients like the Rolaids Relief Man, Major League Baseball, and IBM. Follow Bob Wirz from his early days in Halsey, Nebraska, to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Denver, Kansas City and to the glitz of New York City.

Bob Wirz's story is one that will warm the hearts of baseball aficionados and sports fans in general. The author's gift for prose is exceptional and it comes out in his ability to capture key moments in the story, infusing them with the kind of emotion that readers can easily relate to. The writing is focused and it features vivid images that have stories of their own. I enjoyed the way Bob Wirz's passion for baseball comes out through the narrative and it is inspiring to encounter someone who lived their dream. Readers will find both inspiration and entertainment here. The Passion of Baseball: A Journey to the Commissioner's Office of Major League Baseball is one of those stories that encourage readers to pursue their dreams. It showcases the liberating power of daring to go after our heart's desires. Written in a compelling voice and infused with humor, The Passion of Baseball is filled with life lessons on success.



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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

THE STORY OF T-BONES' TITLE GETS EVEN BETTER

It is easy to congratulate manager Joe Calfapietra for guiding the Kansas City T-Bones to the American Association championship.  The 46-year-old Calfapietra has long been respected throughout much of the Independent Baseball world where he has been leading one team or another for the last 19 seasons.

Digging deeper, the fact the T-Bones, who play out of Kansas City, KS and across the river from the major league Kansas City Royals, won their very first league title becomes a much greater feat.  Consider these facts:

--The franchise, which was created 16 years ago (2003), had not even made it to the playoffs in the ever-competitive American Association since 2010 and Calfapietra was only in his second year at the helm.

--Kansas City only placed one player on the 11-man postseason league all-star team (outfielder Todd Cunningham).

--The equivalent of more than one-third of the 22-man roster had their contract purchased by a major league organization.  The league-leading eight departures included four pitchers, two infielders, an outfielder and a combination infielder-outfielder.  The losses in the last month and a half while the T-Bones were striving to even make the postseason included their starting shortstop (Taylor Featherston) and leadoff hitter (Dylan Tice).

Selling players to major league organizations always brings a source of pride to the entire league, but they also create gaping holes in the roster, which often has no more players on the bench than a second catcher and one other position player.  Everyone says they want to see their players get affiliated opportunities, but some managers and player personnel bosses (often the same person) are not so eager to promote such opportunities because it hurts the team at that time. 

Calfapietra never seems to flinch. 

That attribute alone could be a factor in him winning Manager of the Year honors in the Northern League, Northeast League, the Can-Am League and this season from his peers and the media in the American Association.

For good measure, the Royersford, PA native and two-time All-America selection while playing first base at Eastern College (St. David's, PA) helped Kansas City post a team record 62-37 (.626) regular-season mark and build his all-time regular-season managerial record to 966-819 (.541).

SUGAR LAND ON BRINK

If the Sugar Land (TX) Skeeters win the title in the playoffs that are only beginning in the Atlantic League they also will have overcome major sales of their players to major league organizations.  The Skeeters' count, for the longer 126-game season, stands at 11. 


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Wednesday, September 05, 2018

A NEW INDEPENDENT FACE GETS INTO N.L. WEST RACE

Very little can top the joy of a first-time call-up to the major leagues for someone who has labored in an Independent League.  Seven players have gotten that thrill this season.

The latest is D. J. Johnson, a right-handed relief pitcher who turned a not-so-young (well, for baseball players anyway) 29 last week.  This native of Beaverton, OR got the call to join the Colorado bullpen staff as the Rockies fight for a spot in the National League playoffs.

This 6-foot-4 hurler may not have gotten this chance without spending more than half of the 2014 season with the Traverse City (MI) Beach Bums of the Frontier League (0-3, 14 saves, 1.30 ERA in 24 appearances) after he had been idled for a full season by the injury bug.

Minnesota picked up his contract, then it was on to the Los Angeles Angels and Colorado farm systems the last three seasons, 2018 in the Pacific Coast League when Johnson saved 18 games and went 3-4, 3.90 in 50 games out of Albuquerque's bullpen.  These stats probably won the promotion for him:  84 strikeouts and only 15 walks in 55 innings.  Counting two seasons in three years before his idle campaign, he has been in five major league organizations.

24 NOW ACTIVE IN MAJORS

With all-PCL shortstop Ildemaro Vargas (Bridgeport, Atlantic League) also recalled by Arizona for the postseason scramble and righty Jon Edwards getting the same opportunity in the Cleveland bullpen plus the return of a few other players who have shuttled between the majors and the minor leagues this season, 24 former Independent players are wearing big-league uniforms this month.  Edwards is far from a major league newby, but this right-hander has logged Indy time with Alpine of the Pecos League and San Angelo of the former North American League.

THE OTHER FIRST-TIMERS

Major league debuts also have been earned this season by pitchers Jeremy Bleich with Oakland (Somerset, Atlantic League), Ryan Bollinger with the New York Yankees (Trois-Rivieres, Can-Am League; St. Paul and Winnipeg, American Association; and Windy City, Frontier), Brandon Mann of Texas (Southern Maryland and Lancaster, Atlantic, and Fargo, American Association), Trevor Richards of Miami (Gateway, Frontier), Robert Stock of San Diego (New Jersey, Can-Am), and Marcus Walden of Boston (Lancaster).  Bollinger was active but did not get into any games while Richards and Stock remain on active rosters. 


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Wednesday, August 01, 2018

ONLY 35 DAYS FROM ATLANTIC LEAGUE TO MAJORS

How is this for a rapid climb from and Independent League to the majors?

Brandon Cumpton had not been in the major leagues since 2014 (Pittsburgh), but after spending two months with Southern Maryland of the Atlantic League (4-3, 4.11 in 11 starts) his contract was purchased by Toronto (his last day with the Blue Crabs is listed as June 28).  Thirty five days later (July 31) he was summoned from the Blue Jays' bullpen in an eventual 6-2 loss at Oakland.

The right-hander came on for the fifth and (most of) the sixth inning, and he allowed a run and three hits in 1.2 frames, striking out two and walking the same number.  Half of Cumpton's 46 pitches were strikes.

He had gone 2-1 with an unimpressive 5.63 ERA in six appearances with Triple-A Buffalo after his time in the Atlantic League when Toronto added him to its major league roster.

Cumpton had been in the Pirate organization from 2010 to 2014, including 23 appearances (15 starts) for the parent club in the last two of those seasons with a 5-5 record and a 4.05 ERA.  He did not pitch the next two seasons before returning to Pittsburgh's minor league system last year.

In earlier years, a few veterans such as Jose Lima went directly from the Atlantic League to the majors, but such rapid advancements are rare these days, especially for someone without a distinguished major league resume.

Good for Cumpton and for the Independent game.


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Monday, July 30, 2018

MAJORS OBTAIN AT LEAST 51 FROM INDEPENDENT RANKS SO FAR THIS SEASON

While the focus in baseball right now is tomorrow's (July 31) trade deadline, our attention, as always, is on major league teams finding interest in players in the Independent leagues.

IndyBaseballChatter has tracked 51 players who have been obtained by major league organizations since the end of spring training.  (This total is from the four primary, long-standing leagues, with a few more joining farm systems out of the newer Independent leagues.)

We also can report that six players who have been in one or more Indy league have gotten the thrill of making their major league debut this season.  Trevor Richards (Miami) and Robert Stock (San Diego) still are there while Jeremy Bleich (Oakland), Ryan Bollinger (Yankees), Brandon Mann (Texas) and Marcus Walden (Boston) have returned to the minors.  Bollinger was active, but did not appear in any games.

Thirty-three Indy vets in all have been active on major league rosters this season with 21 still at that level (although several are on the disabled list).  The record for one year was last season's 45, which still could be challenged before the season ends.

When Bleich, who had pitched for the Somerset Patriots in the Atlantic League, was called up by the Athletics recently, he became the 245th player from the Independent ranks to be active for a major league team since the non-affiliated brand of baseball started in 1993.  That is very impressive, especially since many in the majors virtually dismissed the concept when the first leagues started playing.  (The complete list is available for fans to obtain, as stated elsewhere on this blog.)


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Monday, July 02, 2018

TWO MORE INDY HURLERS NOW IN MAJORS

Pitchers who have paid their dues in Independent leagues are continuing to get new opportunities in the major leagues.

The two most recent examples are Milwaukee's Aaron Wilkerson, who started his professional journey in the now defunct United League, and reliever Robert Stock of San Diego, who came out of the Can-Am League (New Jersey Jackals) only two years ago.

They join 17 others who currently are drawing major league paychecks, although two are on the disabled list.

Wilkerson will be monitored closely in that the Brewers are driving toward a possible postseason berth, and the 29-year-old could work into starting roles.  He debuted in the major late last season (three appearances; two starts) and went to spring training to compete for a rotation job only to injure his non-throwing (left) shoulder on a swing just before the regular season.

He has been back on the mound since mid-May, posting a nice 2.08 earned run average in eight appearances (seven starts) for Triple-A Colorado Springs.  He had a rocky first appearance of '18 for Milwaukee, allowing Cincinnati three runs and five hits in three innings Sunday. 

Wilkerson broke into the professional ranks with Fort Worth (United League), Florence, KY of the Frontier League and Grand Prairie, TX of the American Association in 2013, then returned to Grand Prairie early the next season before Boston bought his contract.

Stock, 28, had a full season with New Jersey two years ago, posting a 2.85 ERA (1-2, five saves) in 52 appearances.  He has relieved four times in a week in his first trip to the majors, striking out five in three innings with a 3.00 ERA for the Padres.




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Monday, June 18, 2018

FONT MAKES A BIG STEP FOR TAMPA BAY BY TOPPLING THE YANKEES

So many baseball people like Wilmer Font's potential.  That is why he has been able to stay in the major leagues this year even though he was anything but sharp during stints with the Dodgers and Oakland.

The potential probably never looked better than Sunday when the 28-year-old, who had a season and a half at Ottawa in the Can-Am League (16-6) before getting his second affiliated opportunity, made one of those Tampa Bay bullpen-day starts, handcuffing the potent New York Yankees on one a run in 4.2 innings.  The Rays won the Yankee Stadium tussle, 3-1, with the win going to another former Independent Baseball hurler, Chaz Roe.

"Today, he (Font) gave us a huge boost with a chance to win," manager Kevin Cash told MLB.com.  "He went a little deeper than what we anticipated.  But he was efficient and threw strikes."

Font said he "wanted to (finish) the fifth, but we got a team win.  That's all that matters."  The right-hander, who had a grand total of five major league innings (Texas, '12-'13) prior to joining the Dodgers late last season after winning Pitcher of the Year honors in the Pacific Coast League, has been a starter almost exclusively since joining Ottawa.  The Venezuelan believes he can be a part of the Rays' rotation.  "I feel pretty good starting," he told MLB.com.  "I can throw more pitches the next start."

Yankees manager Aaron Boone also praised the hurler, who has only been with Tampa Bay since May 26, working four times out of the bullpen and starting in his last three appearances.  "Font was good," Boone said.  "He fastball was a wide range--low 90s to even upper 90s.  A lot of teams have been interested in him because the ability is there.  He flipped in the curve enough to keep us off balance.  He was under control for most of the game, and we couldn't break through on him."

Font now has a 2.20 earned run average in 16.1 innings for his new team, allowing 11 hits although his walks (eight) remain fairly high.  To show how far he has come since his difficult days with the Dodgers and Athletics, the 6-foot-4 hurler still has a 7.56 ERA (0-3 record) in his 33.1 innings this season.

"It was definitely a good win for us," said Roe, who pitched in the American Association (Laredo) and has worked his way into regular relief duty in the majors, pitching for Arizona, the Yankees, Baltimore, Atlanta and the Rays.  He is 31.

The Independent leagues have contributed 21 players currently on major league rosters or disabled lists with the Rays and Washington both owning three of them.  Frontier League grad Vidal Nuno (Washington, PA) also is with Tampa Bay while the Nationals have ace Max Scherzer (Fort Worth, American Association), starter Tanner Roark, who made his pro debut at Southern Illinois in the Frontier League, and reliever Brandon Kintzler, who pitched for St. Paul in the American Association and Winnipeg before the Goldeyes transferred to that league from the Northern League.



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Monday, April 02, 2018

INDEPENDENT PLAYERS IN MAJOR LEAGUE UNIFORMS HIT CENTURY MARK

How lofty does it sound when you hear 103 players who have been in one or more Independent leagues wore a major league uniform during spring training?

It happened.

Fifty-eight were either on 40-man rosters or had non-roster invitations to one of the 30 camps in Arizona and Florida.  At least another 45 were brought over from minor league camps to suit up with the big guys for one or more games.  We may have missed a few more, but can identify the 103.

Sixteen of the 58 full-time trainees were on Opening Day rosters, although that number is down from 20 of one year ago.

The only totally new player among the 16 is Boston reliever Marcus Walden, who was with the Lancaster Barnstormers in the Atlantic League virtually all of 2015, posting a 2-4 record, 15 saves and a 2.95 earned run average in 48 appearances.  The right-hander spent last season as a combo starter-reliever for Triple-A Pawtucket (10-6, 3.92) in the Red Sox system, then had a terrific spring training as a non-roster pitcher.

Catcher Raffy Lopez (Bridgeport, Atlantic League), who spent part of last season at Toronto, also went from non-roster status to San Diego's Opening Day roster although he went back to Triple-A during the first weekend without getting into a game for the Padres.

The American Association is the most decorated of the Independent leagues with six major leaguers plus Houston reliever James Hoyt, who started the season the disabled list.

The Independent players who were on 25-man rosters when the season kicked off March 29 with their current major league and their Independent affiliations:

Pitchers (12):  Wilmer Font, Los Angeles-NL (Ottawa, Can-Am League), Luis Garcia, Philadelphia (Newark, Can-Am), Rich Hill, Los Angeles-NL (Long Island, Atlantic League), Brandon Kintzler, Washington (St. Paul, American Association and Winnipeg, Northern League), Chris Martin, Texas (Grand Prairie, Association), James Paxton, Seattle (Grand Prairie), Tanner Roark, Washington (Southern Illinois, Frontier League), Chaz Roe, Tampa Bay (Laredo, Association), Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth, Association), Josh Smoker, Pittsburgh (Rockford, Frontier), Marcus Walden, Boston (Lancaster, Atlantic) and Brad Ziegler, Miami (Schaumburg, Frontier).

Position Players (4):  C Raffy Lopez, San Diego (Bridgeport, Atlantic), 1B-OF Jose Martinez, St. Louis (Rockford), OF David Peralta, Arizona (Wichita and Amarillo, Association, and Rio Grande Valley, North American League) and C Rene Rivera, Los Angeles-AL (Camden, Atlantic).

Hoyt pitched for Wichita plus the North American cities of Edinburg and Yuma.



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Monday, March 12, 2018

FROM AN INDEPENDENT LEAGUE TO THE MAJORS IN LESS THAN A YEAR

The toughest break among the 58 onetime Independent Baseball players in major league camps this spring probably belongs to veteran Daniel Nava since the very first day of spring training the gritty outfielder by way of Chico, CA of the Golden League had to shut it down and have back surgery.

He had signed with Pittsburgh, and was considered a likely fourth outfielder--possibly even part of a leftfield platoon--with his sixth major league team since the days when he barely made an Independent roster.

"Not what I was hoping for, but I've got to look at it from the positive perspective," he told MLB.com after returning to the Pirates' camp in Bradenton, FL.  "The pain's gone, and it explains a lot of things that have happened the past couple years with my body.  Hopefully, I'm 35 years young rather than 35 years old."

Typical recovery time from similar surgery is said to be 10-12 weeks.  Nava hit .301 in 214 plate appearances with Philadelphia last year before going down with what was described as a lower back strain.

Less Than a Year to Majors

If anyone needs convincing of the talent in the Indy leagues, consider this fact:  Six of those in major league camps this month played non-affiliated baseball as recently as last season.  Numerous other former Independent players have worn a major league uniform for at least a day after getting the call from minor league camps.

The six who have been vying for major league jobs, with their current team and former Independent affiliation, are:  Pitchers Henderson Alvarez, Philadelphia (Long Island, Atlantic League);  Tyler Cloyd, Miami (Somerset, Atlantic); Kevin Lenik, Kansas City (Windy City, Frontier League); Tim Melville, Baltimore (Long Island) and James Needy, Miami (Sioux City, American Association) and catcher Shawn Zarraga, Los Angeles Dodgers (Cleburne, American Association).

They May Make It to Opening Day

One new face said to be in line to start the season in the Dodgers' bullpen is Can-Am League (Ottawa) product Wilmer Font.  He was Pitcher of the Year in the Pacific Coast League last year. 

Two versatile non-roster infielders are making strong bids for their first major league action.  The Can-Am (New Jersey) provided Peter Mooney for Miami and the Chicago Cubs are looking at Ryan Court (Sioux City).  Both have been in virtually every spring training game their team has played while hitting above .300.  


"Playing for your hometown team and getting that dream to play in Wrigley (Field), it's an honor to put on the Cubs uniform every day," Court told The Northwest Herald.  "It keeps me going.  I come to the ballpark with a smile every day."

Court makes it clear his time in Sioux City (2015) also was great for him.  "I had a lot of fun playing Indy ball," he told the newspaper, "and I think it's because a lot of guys are in the same situation.  "They've been out of pro (affiliated) ball, trying to fight to get back, so everyone was pulling for each other.  Indy ball was great, and now being with these guys, that seems like it's the Cubs culture, to pull for your team.  The motto this year is 'everybody in'.  It couldn't be more true with this group."


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Thursday, February 22, 2018

INDY HURLER CREDITED WITH VICTORY IN VERY FIRST GAME OF '18

Well, that did not take long.

The very first game played by a major league team in 2018--well, sort of--is history, and the winning pitcher was in the Atlantic League most of the last two seasons.

Arizona did not use any of its regulars in the 7-2 triumph over Arizona State University Wednesday, choosing to rely mostly on players from their farm system.  As a result and with the Diamondbacks frequently reaching into the Independent Baseball ranks for talent, three former Indy players were called upon, and each one contributed.

David Carpenter, a catcher when his professional career started in 2006 and an experienced major leaguer, was credited with the victory when he struck out three ASU hitters (one walk) in a scoreless fifth inning, half an inning before the D-Backs took the lead for good.

Carpenter, who has not been in the majors since 2015, spent much of the last two years with Bridgeport, CT of the Atlantic League, becoming a full-time closer in '17 when he saved 30 games in 39 appearances with a 1-3 record and 1.91 earned run average.  He only allowed 27 hits in 37.2 innings while striking out 45.

Two innings ahead of Carpenter (third inning) Arizona gave the ball to Ryan Atkinson, a 24-year-old righty who stepped off the University of Cincinnati campus undrafted in '15 and started his pro career in the Frontier League (Evansville, IN) before being gobbled up by the Diamondbacks.  He struck out two Wildcats during an unblemished inning.

Promising infielder Ildemaro Vargas, who is on the 40-man roster after playing briefly in the majors last season, was Arizona's leadoff hitter.  The second baseman went 1-for-2 and scored a run.

Indy Total in Majors Climbs to 58

When veteran left-hander Craig Breslow (New Jersey Jackals) signed a minor league pact with Toronto and accepted a camp invitation the total of players with Independent league experience who are in major league camps climbed to 58.  That is one more than last season.

Forty-five of the 58 are pitchers, five more than one year ago.


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Friday, February 09, 2018

INDEPENDENT LEAGUES BIG CONTRIBUTORS (AGAIN) WITH 57 PLAYERS DUE IN MAJOR LEAGUE CAMPS

Another couple of names likely will be added, but IndyBaseballChatter.com has compiled another impressive list of 56 players who have toiled in Independent leagues and are due in major league spring training camps.  Twenty-six of them are on 40-man rosters while the other 31 are non-roster invitees, a count that has swelled the last few days as veteran outfielder Daniel Nava (Pittsburgh) and established reliever Tom Wilhelmsen (San Diego) have reached agreements that include spring training opportunities.

Forty-four pitchers--four more than one year ago--are included along with four catchers, five infielders and four outfielders.

The four primary Independent leagues (American Association, Atlantic, Can-Am and Frontier) have given most of these players their opportunities although the smaller Pecos League and former circuits such as the Golden, Northern, North American and United continue to have players at this level.

Two unsigned veterans (infielder Stephen Drew and reliever Craig Breslow) could increase the total count and some major league organizations may add to their non-roster invitations.  The modern day trend of bringing players up from minor league camps for one or more exhibition games will give still more Indy players exposure to the major league brass.

The list of onetime Independent players expected in the 30 camps, by position, with the major league team and where each person played in the Independent ranks:

         Pitchers (44)--Henderson Alvarez, Philadelphia (Long Island, Atlantic League); NR*Ryan Atkinson, Arizona (Evansville, Frontier League); NR-Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Texas (Lancaster, Atlantic, and Victoria, Golden League); Buddy Boshers, Houston (Somerset, Atlantic); John Brebbia, St. Louis (Sioux Falls and Laredo, American Association);  NR-Tyler Cloyd, Miami (Somerset, Atlantic);  NR-Steve Delabar, Texas (Brockton, Can-Am League, and Florence, Frontier); NR-Jose Flores, San Francisco (Sioux City, American Association); Wilmer Font, Los Angeles-NL (Ottawa, Can-Am); Luis Garcia, Philadelphia (Newark, Can-Am); Junior Guerra, Milwaukee (Wichita, American Association); NR-Cody Hall, Tampa Bay (Lancaster); Ariel Hernandez, Cincinnati (Frontier Greys, Frontier); Rich Hill, Los Angeles-NL (Long Island); James Hoyt, Houston (Wichita; Edinburg and Yuma, North American League); Scott Kazmir, Atlanta (Sugar Land, Atlantic); NR-Mike Kickham, Miami (Kansas City, American Association); Brandon Kintzler, Washington (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, Northern League);  NR-Kevin Lenik, Kansas City (Windy City, Frontier); NR-Brandon Mann, Texas (Fargo, American Association, and Lancaster); *Chris Martin, Texas (Grand Prairie, American Association); NR-Jarret Martin, Oakland (Sussex County, Rockland and Ottawa, Can-Am League, and York, Atlantic); NR-Tim Melville, Baltimore (Long Island); NR-Brian Moran, Los Angeles-NL (Bridgeport, Atlantic); James Needy, Miami (Sioux City, American Association); NR-Vidal Nuno, Tampa Bay (Washington, Frontier); Edward Paredes, Los Angeles-NL (York, Atlantic); *James Paxton, Seattle (Grand Prairie); NR*Trevor Richards, Miami (Gateway, Frontier); *Tanner Roark, Washington (Southern Illinois, Frontier); Chaz Roe, Tampa Bay (Laredo, American Association); NR-Drew Rucinski, Miami (Rockford, Frontier); *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth, American Association);  NR-Bo Schultz, Pittsburgh (Grand Prairie, American Association); Robby Scott, Boston (Yuma);  NR-Tayler Scott, Texas (Sioux City); NR-Chris Smith, Washington (Lake Erie, Traverse City and Washington, Frontier; White Sands, Pecos League); Josh Smoker, Pittsburgh (Rockford);  NR-Robert Stock, San Diego (New Jersey and Sussex County, Can-Am); NR-Marcus Walden, Boston (Lancaster); NR-Tom Wilhelmsen, San Diego (Tucson, Golden); *Aaron Wilkerson, Milwaukee (Grand Prairie; Florence, Frontier; Fort Worth, United League); NR*Eric Yardley, San Diego (Trinidad and Taos, Pecos); Brad Ziegler, Miami (Schaumburg, Northern).

            Catchers (4)--NR-Rafael Lopez, San Diego (Bridgeport,  Atlantic); Rene Rivera, Los Angeles-AL (Camden, Atlantic);  NR-Jan Vasquez, Colorado (Long Island); NR (Also plays 1B)-Shawn Zarraga, Los Angeles-NL (Cleburne, American Association).

            Infielders (5)--NR-Ryan Court, Chicago-NL (Sioux City); NR-Steve Lombardozzi, Oakland (Southern Maryland, Atlantic); NR-SS Peter Mooney, Miami (New Jersey); NR-1B Brandon Snyder, Tampa Bay (Southern Maryland); Ildemaro Vargas, Arizona (Bridgeport, Atlantic).

            Outfielders (4)--NR-Jeremy Barfield, Boston (Sugar Land and Camden, Atlantic); Jose Martinez, St. Louis (Rockford); NR*Daniel Nava, Pittsburgh (Chico, Golden); David Peralta, Arizona (Amarillo and Wichita, American Association; Rio Grande Valley, North American).

            *First professional game was in an Independent league.
            NR-Non-roster invitee.



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Monday, January 22, 2018

FOREIGN OPPORTUNITIES APPEALING AND NON-ROSTER INVITATIONS KEEP COMING


This Week in Independent Baseball

Foreign Money Is Intriguing

Veteran Tanner Scheppers has become the second American Association grad and at least the third former Independent Baseball hurler to leave the majors during this offseason in favor of a better opportunity overseas.  Scheppers, who recently turned 31, will make $800,000 to pitch for the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan.  The Dallas Morning News first reported the news.

Scheppers, who started his professional career with four starts at St. Paul in 2009, had his best major league season in '13 when he won six of eight decisions and earned one save while posting a 1.88 earned run average in 76 appearances for the Texas Rangers, who drafted him out of Fresno State.  He has struggled to stay healthy in recent years, pitching in only 15 major league games the last two seasons.


Right-hander Tim Adleman (Lincoln and El Paso of the American Association and New Jersey of the Can-Am League) left his job with Cincinnati to pitch in Korea for the Samsung Lions and southpaw  Andrew Albers, who finished last season with Seattle, has gone to the Orix Buffaloes in Japan. 

The Latest Non-Roster Invitations

Pitchers dominate, as usual, as non-roster invitations continue to pile up for former Independent players to major league spring training camps.  Twelve of the 15 invitations we have seen are to hurlers.  This number will continue to grow as we head toward the opening of camps next month with less than half of the 30 teams making all of their announcements.  

The list so far as compiled by IndyBaseballChatter.com, with the major league team and the previous Indy affiliations:

Pitchers (12)--*Ryan Atkinson, Arizona (Evansville, Frontier League); Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Texas (Lancaster, Atlantic League, and Victoria, Golden League); Tyler Cloyd, Miami (Somerset, Atlantic);  Steve Delabar, Texas (Brockton, Can-Am League, and Florence, Frontier); Cody Hall, Tampa Bay (Lancaster); Mike Kickham, Miami (Kansas City, American Association);  Kevin Lenik, Kansas City (Windy City, Frontier); Brandon Mann, Texas (Fargo, American Association, and Lancaster); Jarret Martin, Oakland (Sussex County, Rockland and Ottawa, Can-Am League, and York, Atlantic); Vidal Nuno, Tampa Bay (Washington, Frontier); Marcus Walden, Boston (Lancaster); *Eric Yardley, San Diego (Trinidad and Taos, Pecos League).

            Infielders (2)--Steve Lombardozzi, Oakland (Southern Maryland, Atlantic); 1B Brandon Snyder, Tampa Bay (Southern Maryland).

            Outfielders (1)--Jeremy Barfield, Boston (Sugar Land and Camden, Atlantic).

            *First professional game was in an Independent league.



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Thursday, January 04, 2018

RIVERA A FREE AGENT, BUT A HERO IN PUERTO RICO

This Week in Independent Baseball

Heroism in Puerto Rico--Veteran catcher Rene Rivera (Camden, Atlantic League) is a free agent this winter after splitting his ninth major league season between the Mets and Cubs, but he has been a giant figure in his homeland of Puerto Rico, where even the regular baseball season could not be salvaged after the devastating hurricane that still has many people without power.  He made good on a promise to spread goodwill by delivering $25,000 worth of toys collected in the U.S. to some 100 communities.  "It has been a week full of beautiful & humbling experiences", the 34-year-old tweeted, explaining "we were able to do 12 towns, 60 schools, 100 communities & over 25,000 kids." By the way, the Puerto Rican League is playing an abbreviated schedule this month without imports leading up to defending its Caribbean Series title the first week of February.

More Spring Training Invitations--The latest players with Indy time to receive non-roster invitations to major league camps are lefty Jarret Martin (Sussex County, Rockland and Ottawa, all in the Can-Am League, and York of the Atlantic League) with Oakland and first baseman Brandon Snyder (Southern Maryland, Atlantic) with Tampa Bay.

Byrdak Gets a Degree, Finally--Tim Byrdak pitched for five major league teams before retiring a few years ago, now the southpaw reliever has taken advantage of his educational fund to earn a degree from Robert Morris University.  "Twenty years in the making," the 44-year-old told the Daily Southtown newspaper.  "Now I have to find a job."  He has a plan:  "During the course of my career I had injuries here and there and rehab processes and that type of deal trying to survive.  I want to work with kids and teach them proper mechanics and teach them to the best of my ability to keep them off the operating table." His career was not too shabby, either.  Byrdak appeared in 479 major league games, winning 13 times and saving four other contests.


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