With the World Series winding to a conclusion and the outcome hinging partly on the shoulders--the back, actually--of onetime Fort Worth (American Association) stud Max Scherzer's availability to take the mound for the Washington Nationals, everyone in both the major leagues and Independent Baseball starts diving into the next part of the calendar: The Offseason.
The biggest Indy news is the merger of the Frontier League and the Can-Am League under the Frontier banner. The best part of this, one can easily argue, is it keeps all but one (Ottawa) of the six Can-Am franchises active. The league did not seem to have other ready options so some 125 players still have jobs.
While one cannot pretend that all is rosy in the Independent world (i.e. losses of such franchises as Ottawa, River City of the Frontier and New Britain of the Atlantic League being primary), the 27th season since Miles Wolff created the Northern League and the Frontier started there were any number of highs this summer, such as:
--Thirty-nine players who have Indy playing experience got part or full-time action in the majors--an increase of two over one year ago. Nine of these players made their debut, including Nick Anderson (Frontier to Miami and Tampa Bay), Randy Dobnak (United Shore League to Minnesota) and Eric Yardley (Pecos League to San Diego) who got their initial professional opportunity outside of major league organizations.
--Anderson and Dobnak seem to have bullish futures, joining the solid major league ranks of Indy grads that already includes the likes of Scherzer, James Paxton (Grand Prairie, American Association and New York Yankees), John Brebbia (Sioux Falls and Laredo, American Association, and St. Louis) and Tanner Roark (Southern Illinois, Frontier, and Oakland).
--Those six (Roark had Oakland gotten past the American League wild card game) plus Chris Martin (Grand Prairie and Atlanta), Rich Hill (Long Island, Atlantic League and the Los Angeles Dodgers), Junior Guerra (Wichita, American Association and Milwaukee), Chaz Roe (Laredo and Tampa Bay), Jose Martinez (Rockford, Frontier and St. Louis) gave the Independent leagues an unusually strong contingent for major league postseason play.
Those Who Served
It always is heart-warming to see those who have been determined as players but perhaps a little short on lasting talent getting opportunities on the big stage of the postseason. Such is the case of 5-foot-8 Stubby Clapp, St. Louis's first base coach. The 46-year-old utility man only got into 23 major league games, but he seems to be a baseball lifer who played two full seasons in the Northern League (Edmonton) and wore Team Canada uniforms for years after he collected his only big-league RBI for the Cardinals way back in 2001.
Early Free Agents
A bevy of players, including some who were in the majors this season, will become free agents shortly after the World Series ends. Right-handers Luis Garcia (Newark, Can-Am League and the Los Angeles Angels) and D. J. Johnson (Traverse City, Frontier and Colorado) have gotten a jump on others. Johnson was let go by the Rockies so he could sign with the Hiroshima Carp in Japan.
Get the independent minor league baseball trivia question of the day by clicking this link: Independent Minor League Baseball Trivia Questions
Tuesday, October 29, 2019
THE MERGER AND OTHER HIGHLIGHTS OF 2019
Former chief spokesman for Major League Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth. Six years as publicity director for the Kansas City Royals, and a background in newspaper, radio and television. Started Wirz & Associates, a sports PR and consulting firm, in 1985. Has written extensively on Independent Baseball since 2003.