Saturday, April 04, 2020


These strange times in everyday life and obviously in the derailed baseball season make it next to impossible to figure out where certain players would be playing if not for the coronavirus.

It is known that none of the former Independent players who were in major league spring training camps when they were abruptly shut down for an indefinite time had been added to 40-man rosters, a move, currently forbidden, that almost certainly would have meant they had locked up a spot on 26-man Opening Day rosters.  

At the same time, there had not been any major surprises where players who would have been expected to be in the major leagues had been sent back to the minor leagues.  Tampa Bay had optioned Trevor Richards, who started his pro career with the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League, to Triple-A Durham, but the right-hander had only won six of 18 decisions last season when he started  23 major league games in his 30 appearances and had a 4.06 earned run average.

The most promising showings in major league camps that looked like possible opportunities at some point in the season had come from a pair of left-handed pitchers on the comeback trail after not being in the big leagues for a number of years.

This pair, who certainly bear watching whenever baseball gets the green light to re-open camps, are Tyler Matzek with Atlanta and Casey Crosby of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The fascinating thing is both pitched in the American Association last season, Matzek with the Texas AirHogs and Crosby with the Chicago Dogs.  Crosby, who started three games for Detroit when he was only 23 back in 2012, also spent time with Lincoln in '17 when he was just starting a comeback after three arm surgeries that led to nearly three seasons of inactivity from the mound.

Matzek got his MLB experience with Colorado in '14 and '15, winning eight of 20 decisions, almost entirely in starting roles.  He has faced both wildness and mental demons since, but spent considerable time with the AirHogs each of the last two years.  He worked out of the bullpen exclusively last summer, registering a 2.64 ERA and striking out 53 batters in a mere 30.2 innings.  He continued to dazzle with the Braves in spring training when he was actually assigned to the minor league camp.  The parent club gave him three looks and seven of his 11 outs came on strikeouts while he only allowed one hit (no walks).

The hurdle for both pitchers will be for their organizations to find room on their 40-man rosters, not exactly an easy chore at this point.

Non-roster veterans who could get another major league opportunity once the freeze on roster movement is lifted include reliever Luis Garcia (Newark, Can-Am League) with Texas and catcher Rene Rivera (Camden, Atlantic League) with the New York Mets. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020


The opening of spring training camps is a reminder of how much Independent Baseball continues to contribute to the major league baseball landscape.

Fifty-one players who have started their career in a non-affiliated league or have gone there for a second chance have invitations to one of the 30 major league camps, according to records compiled exclusively by, and, if history repeats, that number may even climb a little more as teams make last minute decisions.

The count is exactly the same as one year ago, with pitchers once more dominating in that they have 41 of the slots.  Three catchers, four infielders and three outfielders complete the list.

Twenty-three of the players are on 40-man rosters while the others have non-roster invitations.

The American Association can claim 20 of the 51 spots with the Atlantic League next with 18, followed by the Frontier League with nine and the former Can-Am League (it is now part of the Frontier) accounting for seven.  Some players have been in more than one of the Indy circuits.  Ten leagues are represented in all, including three that no longer are active.

While the list includes established major leaguers such as Washington ace Max Scherzer, Toronto starter Tanner Roark and Arizona hitting star David Peralta, decisions to be made between now and Opening Day (March 26) include whether Randy Dobnak can nail down a starting mound role with Minnesota, will first baseman John Nogowski (St. Louis) and lefty Mike Kickham (Boston) prove themselves ready and whether Tampa Bay will end up with four Indy leaguers among its 26-man active roster.

The entire list of players with Independent Baseball playing experience who are due in major league spring training camps, including the team and the Indy leagues and teams where they played:

Pitchers (41)--NR-Fernando Abad, Washington (Long Island, Atlantic League); NR-Tim Adleman, Detroit (Long Island; Lincoln and El Paso, American Association; New Jersey, Can-Am League); *Nick Anderson, Tampa Bay (Frontier Greys and Rockford, Frontier League); NR-Phillippe Aumont, Toronto (Ottawa and Quebec, Can-Am); NR-Ben Bracewell, Oakland (River City, Frontier); John Brebbia, St. Louis (Laredo and Sioux Falls, American Association); NR-David Carpenter, Cincinnati (Bridgeport, Atlantic); NR-Hunter Cervenka, Baltimore (Sugar Land, Atlantic); NR-Ross Detwiler, Chicago-AL (York, Atlantic);  NR-Tim Dillard, Texas (Lancaster, Atlantic); *Randy Dobnak, Minnesota (Utica, United Shore League); Wilmer Font, Toronto (Ottawa); NR-Luis Garcia, Texas (Newark, Can-Am); *Zac Grotz, Seattle (Washington, Frontier League; Bridgeport and York); Junior Guerra, Arizona (Wichita, American Association); Rich Hill, Minnesota (Long Island); *James Hoyt, Cleveland (Wichita; Edinburg and Yuma, North American League); NR-Mike Kickham, Boston (Kansas City, American Association); Brandon Kintzler, Miami (St. Paul, American Association; Winnipeg, Northern League); #Parker Markel, Los Angeles-AL (Sioux City, American Association); *Chris Martin, Atlanta (Grand Prairie, American Association); Chris Mazza, Boston (Southern Maryland, Atlantic; San Rafael, Pacific Association); NR-Ian McKinney, Seattle (Sioux City); NR-Trey McNutt, San Francisco (Fargo-Moorhead, American Association); NR-Tim Melville, Colorado (Long Island);  NR-Brian Moran, Toronto (Bridgeport); NR-Chris Nunn, Atlanta (Evansville; St. Paul);  *James Paxton, New York-AL (Grand Prairie); NR-Alex Powers, Cincinnati (New Jersey);  Trevor Richards, Tampa Bay (Gateway, Frontier); *Tanner Roark, Toronto (Southern Illinois, Frontier); Chaz Roe, Tampa Bay (Laredo); NR-Nick Rumbelow, New York-NL (Sugar Land);  *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth, American Association); NR-D. J. Snelten, Tampa Bay (Chicago, American Association);  Robert Stock, Philadelphia (New Jersey; Normal, Frontier); NR-Caleb Thielbar, Minnesota (St. Paul);  NR-Nik Turley, Pittsburgh (Somerset, Atlantic);  Marcus Walden, Boston (Lancaster); NR*-Aaron Wilkerson, Milwaukee (Grand Prairie; Florence, Frontier; Fort Worth, United League);  *Eric Yardley, Milwaukee (Trinidad and Taos, Pecos League).

Catchers (3)—Yermin Mercedes, Chicago-AL (Douglas and White Sands, Pecos); NR-Rene Rivera, New York-NL (Camden, Atlantic); NR-Josh Thole, New York-AL (New Britain, Atlantic).

Infielders (4)—Jose Martinez, Tampa Bay (Rockford); NR-Peter Mooney, Minnesota (New Jersey);  NR-John Nogowski, St. Louis (Sioux City);  Ildemaro Vargas, Arizona (Bridgeport).

Outfielders (3)—David Peralta, Arizona (Amarillo and Wichita, American Association; Rio Grande Valley, North American); NR-Travis Snider, Arizona (Long Island);  NR-Dillon Thomas, Oakland (Texas, American Association).

*First professional game was in an Independent league.
#Designated for assignment; status unknown.
NR-Non-roster invitee.

Be on Lookout for Others

Many additional players with Independent playing experience seem certain to see some action in major league exhibition games, including recently-signed southpaws Kyle Regnault of San Diego (Worcester and Quebec, Can-Am League) and Brandon Mann of Texas (Fargo-Moorhead, American Association, and Southern Maryland and Lancaster, both in the Atlantic League).

Friday, February 07, 2020


This is that time of year when the words "non-roster" are seen with frequency since most major league teams will supplement their 40-man roster with around 20 invitees from their minor league system to train full-time in spring training camps throughout Florida and Arizona.

Presuming this spring training will follow recent years at least a handful of the invitees will make the decisions more difficult as the American and National League teams pare down to the 26-man limit by Opening Day on March 26.

The Independent Baseball Insider's exclusive compilation of former players from Independent leagues owning major league invitations is up to 24.  Recent additions, including both the team and the Indy stops, are:

PITCHERS--Hunter Cervenka, Baltimore (Sugar Land, Atlantic League); Ross Detwiler, Chicago-AL (York, Atlantic); Tim Melville, Colorado (Long Island, Atlantic);  Alex Powers, Cincinnati (New Jersey, Can-Am League); Caleb Thielbar, Minnesota (St. Paul, American Association).

POSITION PLAYERS--SS Peter Mooney, Minnesota (New Jersey); 1B John Nogowski, St. Louis (Sioux City, American Association); C Josh Thole, New York-AL (New Britain, Atlantic).

Melville bears watching closely since the right-hander finished last season in the Rockies' rotation after starting the year with the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League.

We will have a complete rundown of all players from the Independent leagues who will be in major league camps when spring training begins next week.  Which league will have the most representation?  Stay tuned.

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

Friday, January 24, 2020


Talk about a spray chart!  That is what we are doing today with so many former Independent league people in the news some three weeks before spring training starts.

--One cannot help but wonder how many Indy players may be on Tampa Bay's 26-man Opening Day roster.  There is newly-acquired outfielder Jose Martinez (Rockford, Frontier League) to be certain, and it would be an upset if this trio of pitchers were not active:   Nick Anderson (also Rockford and the Frontier Greys), Trevor Richards (Gateway, Frontier) and Chaz Roe (Laredo, American Association.  Now the Rays have added lefty D. J. Snelten (Chicago, American Association) and his power arm as a non-roster invitee.  Snelten was with Butch Hobson's team just last season.

--Other non-roster players announced so far include hurlers Phillippe Aumont, Toronto (Ottawa, Can-Am League); Ben Bracewell, Oakland (River City, Frontier); Tim Dillard, Texas (Lancaster,Atlantic League); Luis Garcia, Texas (Newark, Can-Am); Mike Kickham, Boston (Kansas City, American Association); Trey McNutt, San Francisco (Fargo-Moorhead, American Association); Chris Nunn, Atlanta (St. Paul, American Association, and Evansville, Frontier); David Carpenter, Cincinnati (Bridgeport, Atlantic); Tim Adleman, Detroit (Long Island, Atlantic; Lincoln and El Paso, American Association; New Jersey, Can-Am); Fernando Abad, Washington (Long Island); Nic Turley, Pittsburgh (Somerset, Atlantic); catcher Rene Rivera, New York-NL (Camden, Atlantic); and outfielders Dillon Thomas, Oakland (Texas, American Association) and Travis Snider, Arizona (Long Island).  These 15 plus 25 players on 40-man rosters (presuming Brandon Kintzler will sign soon) give the Indy leagues 40 players, and that number seems certain to grow when more teams unveil their non-roster guys.

--Several Indy favorites have signed new minor league contacts and while they are not (yet) listed as non-roster invitees some of them will be on the list of players brought over from minor league camps for one or more major league exhibitions:  This group includes pitchers Justin DeFratus, Los Angeles-NL (Southern Maryland, Atlantic); Alex Powers, Cincinnati (New Jersey); Hunter Cervenka, Baltimore (Sugar Land, Atlantic) and Ross Detwiler, Chicago-AL (York, Atlantic); utilityman Conrad Gregor, Tampa Bay (New Jersey and Rockland, Can-Am, and Lancaster); and infielders T. J. Rivera, Philadelphia (Long Island) and Cody Asche, Minnesota (Sugar Land).

--Several former Indy managers, coaches and players have gotten non-playing major league or affiliated minor league opportunities although they have not all been announced.  One of the more significant is Antoan Richardson, who played for Schaumburg when it was in the Northern League.  He has jumped to a major league coaching role with San Francisco.  It was Richardson who scored the winning run on new Hall of Famer Derek Jeter's last game at Yankee Stadium.  Onetime major league pitcher Dylan Axelrod (Windy City, Frontier) has joined the Los Angeles Angels as pitching coordinator.

Watch this space for the full list of Independent players expected in major league spring training camps in the days ahead.

How About This Contract?

Any time an Indy leaguer gets some type of major league opportunity it is automatic that his paycheck will have more zeroes on it.  Even so, the $22 million Tanner Roark will receive
in his two-year pact with Toronto has to get the attention of everyone in a non-affiliated league.  He started out in the Frontier League (Southern Illinois) for three appearances back in 2008.

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