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

Thursday, December 12, 2019


Oh, those right-handed Independent Baseball pitchers.

Three of them were selected by major league organizations in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft on the final day of the Winter Meetings in San Diego Thursday.

The New York Mets were first up, using the 15th selection to take Adam Oller, who had come out of Windy City in the Frontier League and was on the Class AA roster of the San Francisco Giants (Richmond).  St. Louis chose next, and the Cardinals drafted Jordan Brink off Milwaukee's Double-A roster in Biloxi.  He has played for both Southern Illinois and River City in the Frontier League in addition to Pittsburg of the Pacific Association.  Both players were obtained from Indy play in '19.

The Pacific Association also had been home for Deivy Mendez, who now belongs to Oakland after being in the San Diego farm system.  Mendez had played at Napa.

Pecos League Also Gains Attention

While the American Association, Atlantic League and the newly combined Frontier and Can-Am Leagues usually draw more attention from the major leagues, it was the Pecos League that had the only new face added to a major league roster when they were being set this fall.  Catcher Yermin Mercedes, who played at both Douglas and White Sands in the southwestern-based Pecos, is now on the 40-man roster of the Chicago White Sox.

Since pitcher Eric Yardley, whose professional career started in the Pecos League (Trinidad and Taos), recently signed a contract with Milwaukee as a free agent the league will have at least two players in major league spring training camps.  Yardley got his first taste of the majors with San Diego late last season.

Meanwhile, the first non-roster invitation (we have seen) for a player with Independent experience so far this offseason belongs to outfielder Dillon Thomas, who got that honor when he signed a free agent contract with Oakland.  He had played at Texas in the American Association and was in the Milwaukee farm system last season.

Foreign Bound

Japan has gained the services of two recent Indy players.

Tayler Scott, who received considerable attention last summer when he became the first South African native to pitch in the major leagues (Seattle, Baltimore), will get $525,000 plus a signing bonus of $175,000 according to to throw for the Hiroshima Carp.  The right-hander pitched for Sioux City in the American Association three years ago.

While we do not know the terms, southpaw Sean Nolin, who had played with the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League and was a Seattle farmhand until becoming a free agent, has signed to play with the Seibu Lions.

Independent players who get an opportunity to play in either Japan or Korea typically get a very nice payday.

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


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