Monday, May 08, 2017

12-Year Wait Is Over For Texas Pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx

It never gets old to write about a long-striving baseball player who finally gets that major league call.

Think Daniel Nava.  Or Stephen Cardullo.  Or James Hoyt.

The newest entry in this it-can't-happen-but-it-finally-does category is right-handed pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who turned 32 ten days ago and now in his 12th professional season.  He was added to the Texas Rangers' major league roster Sunday.

"It's a blessing and a dream come true," Bibens-Dirkx told MLB.com.  It has been a grind.  I've seen a lot of highs and a lot of lows.  I'm extremely happy.  I can't put it into words."
Rangers manager Jeff Banister told the same site: "You see these stories over and over again. It never gets old.  It's real.  It's raw, so emotional...guy who spends that much time in the minors, winter ball and independent leagues, there are not enough superlatives and adjectives to describe how you feel."
The native of Salem, OR was a 16th round draft choice by Seattle in 2006, but after three seasons and not advancing above Class A he found himself with Victoria, BC in the now defunct Golden League. Four organizations later Bibens-Dirkx spent a chunk of last season back in Indy ball, this time with Lancaster, PA of the Atlantic League (3-3, 3.81 for 10 starts), before Texas bought his contract and sent him to Triple-A Round Rock.
"We had him in spring training a number of times (1.50 ERA for six appearances and the same number of innings only daily invitations from the minor league camp) and got a really good look at his stuff and got to know the guy," Banister said. "One of the great assets he showed is his overall instincts and moxie to get outs."
The next step?
"My goal was to get here, but the goal doesn't stop," Bibens-Dirkx explained. "The goal is to be successful and be here as long as I can,  do everything I can to make it a tough decision when it comes time to send people down."
He is the second Independent grad to taste the majors for the first time this season, joining another righty, Ariel Hernandez (Frontier League), who was with Cincinnati for a brief time.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

20 Indy League Vets In Majors

It is always nice to see the Independent leagues getting more players to the major leagues.

Sixteen onetime Indy players were active rosters on Opening Day last season with three more on disabled lists.  That number climbed to 20 in 2017, and still stands at that count with two players added recently although the DL list has grown to four and one health-challenged player recently was outrighted to Triple-A.

A record 45 players with Independent experience were in the majors at some time last season.

The roster at the start of this week including both the major league and Independent affiliations:

            Pitchers (14 + 3 on DL)--Tim Adleman, Cincinnati (New Jersey, Can-Am League, and Lincoln and El Paso, American Association); Craig Breslow, Minnesota (New Jersey, Northeast League); Luis Garcia, Philadelphia (Newark, Can-Am);  #Junior Guerra, Milwaukee (Wichita, American Association); Rich Hill, Los Angeles-NL (Long Island, Atlantic League); #Scott Kazmir, Los Angeles-NL (Sugar Land, Atlantic); Brandon Kintzler, Minnesota (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, Northern League); Vidal Nuno, Baltimore (Washington, Frontier League); *James Paxton, Seattle (Grand Prairie, American Association); *Tanner Roark, Washington (Southern Illinois, Frontier); Chaz Roe, Atlanta (Laredo, American Association); *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth, American Association);  #Bo Schultz, Toronto (Grand Prairie); *Robby Scott, Boston (Yuma, North American League); Josh Smoker, New York-NL (Rockford, Frontier); Tom Wilhelmsen, Arizona (Tucson, Golden League); Brad Ziegler, Miami (Schaumburg, Northern).

            Position Players (6+1 on DL)--OF-1B-Stephen Cardullo, Colorado (Rockland, Can-Am); #INF-Stephen Drew, Washington (Camden, Atlantic);   OF-Chris Marrero, San Francisco (Somerset, Atlantic); OF-Jose Martinez, St. Louis (Rockford); OF-1B*-Daniel Nava, Philadelphia (Chico, Golden); OF-David Peralta, Arizona (Amarillo and Wichita, American Association, and Rio Grande Valley, North American); C-Rene Rivera, New York-NL (Camden).

            *First professional game was in an Independent League
            #Is on disabled list

             Notes:  Adleman and Garcia have been added since Opening Day.  Breslow, Cardullo, Marrero, Nava and Wilhelmsen were non-roster invitees when spring training started.  Tanner Scheppers, Texas (St. Paul, American Association) was on the disabled list when the season started but has been sent outright to Triple-A.


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Monday, March 20, 2017

Indy Baseball Numbers For Spring Training And WBC

It is time to look at some numbers.  Amazing numbers, really, which both MLB and Independent Baseball should love.

**When spring training camps opened, a record 56 (one less than we originally reported) players who have been in Independent leagues were in major league camps.  Twenty-seven of them were on 40-man rosters; the other 29 were non-roster invitees.  The number has gone back with 27 with one recent addition.

**47 of them (as best we know) still are in major league camps two weeks from Opening Day.

**At least another 57 former Indy players now in major league organizations have been brought over from minor league camps for one or more major league games with more added virtually daily. Many of these players have gotten into Grapefruit or Cactus League games including former Independent Players of the Year (Baseball America) Balbino Fuenmayor (Quebec, Can-Am League, 2014) with Atlanta and Art Charles (New Jersey, Can-Am League, 2016) with Milwaukee.  Both are primarily first basemen, and both have hit a home run.  THIS MEANS AT LEAST 114 FORMER INDEPENDENT PLAYERS HAVE BEEN IN UNIFORM FOR MAJOR LEAGUE GAMES THIS SPRING.

WBC NUMBERS IMPRESSIVE, TOO

IndyBaseballChatter has identified 48 onetime (some are current) Independent players who have been on active rosters for teams in the World Baseball Classic.  (It is possible others have been overlooked.)

Eleven of that group are scheduled for the semifinals starting Monday night at Dodger Stadium.  The list is dominated by seven with The Netherlands.  Six of those played in the American Association or are scheduled to do so this year.  Puerto Rico has three and the United States roster includes former Frontier League right-hander Tanner Roark of Washington, who is expected to start the championship game if the Team USA gets that far.  Roark threw his very first professional pitches for Southern Illinois.

SOME HEADLINERS

The top candidates among players not already established in the major leagues to get Opening Day jobs would seem to include St. Louis outfielder Jose Martinez (Rockford, Frontier League) and Colorado first baseman-outfielder Stephen Cardullo (Rockland, Can-Am League).  Cardullo has hit three home runs, including two grand slams, and has been leading the Rockies in runs batted in while Martinez has shown steady power while hitting well above .300.



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Friday, February 17, 2017

Record 57 Former Indy Players In Major League Camps

What a jump!

A record 57 players who have been in one or more Independent Baseball leagues are among those in--or heading to--major league spring training camps.

IndyBaseballChatter.com, which has been tracking Indy players for years, has identified 40 pitchers and 17 position players who are on 40-man rosters (27) or are non-roster invitees (30), a jump from the previous count of 52 two years ago.  Fifty players were in a similar group last year.

Forty-five players, another record, played in major league games last season.

Those ticketed for major league camps this year, including the major league and Independent affiliations, with non-roster players designated with an "n" before their name and players who started their professional career in an Indy league shown with an "*".  The underscoring of a name indicates players added since the last report of those headed to spring training:

Pitchers (40)--Tim Adleman, Cincinnati (New Jersey, Can-Am League, and El Paso and Lincoln, American Association.); nAndrew Albers, Atlanta (Lancaster, Atlantic League, and Quebec, Can-Am); nCarlos Alvarado, San Francisco (Lancaster and Newark, Atlantic; San Angelo, United League); nAndrew Barbosa, Detroit (Long Island, Atlantic); Buddy Boshers, Minnesota (Somerset, Atlantic); nCraig Breslow, Minnesota (New Jersey, Northeast League); Hunter Cervenka, Miami (Sugar Land, Atlantic); nSteve Delabar, Cleveland (Florence, Frontier League, and Brockton, Can-Am); nJon Edwards, San Diego (Alpine, Pecos League, and San Angelo, North American League); nDerek Eitel, Washington (Wichita, American Association); nCharles (Carlos) Fisher, San Diego (Somerset, Atlantic); Luis Garcia, Philadelphia (Newark, Can-Am); nJarrett Grube, Toronto (Southern Maryland, Atlantic); Junior Guerra, Milwaukee (Wichita, American Association); Ariel Hernandez, Cincinnati (Frontier Greys, Frontier); Rich Hill, Los Angeles-NL (Long Island, Atlantic); *James Hoyt, Houston (Wichita, American Association, and Edinburg, Yuma, North American); Scott Kazmir, Los Angeles-NL (Sugar Land, Atlantic); nLogan Kensing, Detroit (Bridgeport, Atlantic); Brandon Kintzler, Minnesota (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, Northern League); Vidal Nuno, Los Angeles-NL (Washington, Frontier); nMicah Owings, Seattle (York, Atlantic);  *James Paxton, Seattle (Grand Prairie, American Association); nMatt Reynolds, San Francisco (Lancaster, Atlantic);  *Tanner Roark, Washington (Southern Illinois, Frontier); Chaz Roe, Atlanta (Laredo, American Association); nDrew Rucinski, Minnesota (Rockford, Frontier); nDan Runzler, Pittsburgh (Sugar Land, Atlantic); *Tanner Scheppers, Texas (St. Paul, American Association); *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth, American Association);  Bo Schultz, Toronto (Grand Prairie, American Assocation); *Robby Scott, Boston (Yuma, North American); n Chris Smith, Oakland (Sugar Land, Atlantic and Wichita, American Assocation); *Chris Smith, Toronto (Lake Erie, Traverse City and Washington, Frontier, and White Sands, Pecos); Josh Smoker, New York-NL (Rockford, Frontier); nCaleb Thielbar, Miami (St. Paul, American Association); nMarcus Walden, Boston (Lancaster, Atlantic); nTom Wilhelmson, Arizona (Tucson, Golden League); nAaron Wilkerson, Milwaukee (Grand Prairie; Florence, Frontier; Fort Worth, United);  Brad Ziegler, Miami (Schaumburg, Northern).

Catchers (5)--Rafael Lopez, Cincinnati (Bridgeport, Atlantic); nYermin Mercedes, Baltimore (Douglas and White Sands, Pecos); Rene Rivera, New York-NL (Camden, Atlantic); nEddy Rodriguez, Minnesota (Sioux Falls and El Paso, American Assocation); nJan Vazquez, Colorado (Long Island).

Infielders (5)--nRobert Andino, Baltimore (Somerset); n*Chris Colabello, Cleveland (Worcester and Nashua, Can-Am); Stephen Drew, Washington (Camden);  nBrandon Snyder, Washington (Southern Maryland, Atlantic); Ildemaro Vargas, Arizona (Bridgeport, Atlantic).

Outfielders (7)--nStephen Cardullo, Colorado (Rockland, Can-Am); nChris Marrero, San Francisco (Somerset); Jose Martinez, St. Louis (Rockford, Frontier); n*Daniel Nava, Philadelphia (Chico, Golden); nWily Mo Pena, Cleveland (Bridgeport); David Peralta, Arizona (Amarillo and Wichita, American Association, and Rio Grande Valley, North American); nLogan Schafer, Baltimore (Lancaster, Atlantic). 


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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

48 Indy Vets Due At Major League Camps

While a half dozen teams have not made their full non-roster contingents known for spring training, IndyBaseballChatter.com has identified 48 players with Independent Baseball experience who will be in major league camps this month.

The list is top-heavy with pitchers, as usual, with three-quarters of those expected being moundsmen.  A number of leagues are represented with the Atlantic League and American Association continuing to be the most productive.

Twenty-seven of the players are on 40-man major league rosters with the other 21 being non-roster invitees.  A few more players are likely to be added.

The entire 48-man list of onetime Independent players with their current major league and previous Independent affiliations:

          Pitchers (36)--Tim Adleman, Cincinnati (New Jersey, Can-Am League, and El Paso and Lincoln, American Association.); nAndrew Albers, Atlanta (Lancaster, Atlantic League, and Quebec, Can-Am); nAndrew Barbosa, Detroit (Long Island, Atlantic); Buddy Boshers, Minnesota (Somerset, Atlantic); Hunter Cervenka, Miami (Sugar Land, Atlantic); nSteve Delabar, Cleveland (Florence, Frontier League, and Brockton, Can-Am); nJon Edwards, San Diego (Alpine, Pecos League, and San Angelo, North American League); nDerek Eitel, Washington (Wichita, American Association); Luis Garcia, Philadelphia (Newark, Can-Am); nJarrett Grube, Toronto (Southern Maryland, Atlantic); Junior Guerra, Milwaukee (Wichita, American Association); Ariel Hernandez, Cincinnati (Frontier Greys, Frontier); Rich Hill, Los Angeles-NL (Long Island, Atlantic); *James Hoyt, Houston (Wichita, American Association, and Edinburg, Yuma, North American); Scott Kazmir, Los Angeles-NL (Sugar Land, Atlantic); nLogan Kensing, Detroit (Bridgeport, Atlantic); Brandon Kintzler, Minnesota (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, Northern League); Vidal Nuno, Los Angeles-NL (Washington, Frontier); nMicah Owings, Seattle (York, Atlantic);  *James Paxton, Seattle (Grand Prairie, American Association); nMatt Reynolds, San Francisco (Lancaster, Atlantic);  *Tanner Roark, Washington (Southern Illinois, Frontier); Chaz Roe, Atlanta (Laredo, American Association); nDrew Rucinski, Minnesota (Rockford, Frontier); nDan Runzler, Pittsburgh (Sugar Land, Atlantic); *Tanner Scheppers, Texas (St. Paul, American Association); *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth, American Association);  Bo Schultz, Toronto (Grand Prairie, American Assocation); *Robby Scott, Boston (Yuma, North American); n Chris Smith, Oakland (Sugar Land, Atlantic and Wichita, American Assocation); *Chris Smith, Toronto (Lake Erie, Traverse City and Washington, Frontier, and White Sands, Pecos); Josh Smoker, New York-NL (Rockford, Frontier); nCaleb Thielbar, Miami (St. Paul, American Association); nMarcus Walden, Boston (Lancaster, Atlantic); nAaron Wilkerson, Milwaukee (Grand Prairie; Florence, Frontier; Fort Worth, United League;  Brad Ziegler, Miami (Schaumburg, Northern).

            Catchers (3)-- Rafael Lopez, Cincinnati (Bridgeport, Atlantic); Rene Rivera, New York-NL (Camden, Atlantic); nEddy Rodriguez, Minnesota (Sioux Falls and El Paso, American Assocation).

            Infielders (4)—n*Chris Colabello, Cleveland (Worcester and Nashua, Can-Am); Stephen Drew, Washington (Camden);  nBrandon Snyder, Washington (Southern Maryland, Atlantic); Ildemaro Vargas, Arizona (Bridgeport, Atlantic).

            Outfielders (5) – nStephen Cardullo, Colorado (Rockland, Can-Am); Jose Martinez, St. Louis (Rockford, Frontier); n*Daniel Nava, Philadelphia (Chico, Golden); David Peralta, Arizona (Amarillo and Wichita, American Association, and Rio Grande Valley, North American); nLogan Schafer, Baltimore (Lancaster, Atlantic).

            *First professional game was in an Independent League; nNon-roster invitee


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