Friday, July 10, 2020

KICKHAM, deSAN MIGUEL GET MLB SHOTS

Kansas City T-Bones (American Association) lefty Mike Kickham and Southern Maryland (Atlantic League) catcher Allan deSanMiguel have been added to Spring Training 2.0 rosters, giving Independent Baseball 40 of its graduates with an opportunity to be on major league rosters when the 2020 season finally opens July 23.

Added in recent days as teams fill gaps in their 60-man training camp rosters and gear up for the 60-game schedule, both Boston's Kickham and deSanMiguel of Kansas City may have benefitted from unfortunate absences of star major leaguers.  The Royals have temporarily lost All-Star backstop Salvador Perez while the Red Sox are currently without 19-game winner and projected opening day starter Edwardo Rodriguez.

Kickham, 31, has not seen any regular-season major league duty since he appeared in 14 games for San Francisco in 2013-14, but he put together a 5-5 record and 4.27 earned run average in Triple-A for Miami last season and was a non-roster invitee to Boston's regular spring training camp earlier this year.  He was a starter for the T-Bones in '16, with a 3-5 record and solid 2.83 ERA.

deSanMiguel, a 5-foot-9 right-handed hitter, has been playing professionally since 2005 but has yet to play in the major leagues.  The Australian native turned 32 in February.

More Releases

Veteran right-hander Chris Smith, who got to the majors after starting his pro career in a non-affiliated league, and lefty Casey Crosby, who was in Triple-A with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, were among several more onetime Independent players handed their releases recently.  Smith, let go by Detroit, pitched in the Frontier League for Lake Erie, Traverse City and Washington and also was at White Sands of the Pecos League.  Crosby's Indy time was spent with Lincoln and Chicago in the American Association and Lancaster in the Atlantic League.  He has returned to Butch Hobson's Chicago Dogs.

Veteran outfielder Blake Gailen was released by the Dodgers.  He played for both Lincoln and Wichita in the American Association, Lancaster, Chico in the Golden League and Anderson in the South Coast League.  Former Lincoln hurler Ricky Knapp also was released by the Dodgers while another righty, Garrett Mundell, was dropped by Milwaukee.  He had pitched at Trois-Rivieres of the Can-Am League.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Wow! 38 With Independent Baseball Experience Invited to Train with MLB Teams...So Far

The 17 onetime Independent Baseball players healthy and still in major league spring training camps when the sport shut down in mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic seemed certain all along to be part of re-opening rosters.  Add in another five who are on 40-man rosters but had been optioned plus 16 invitees and the non-affiliated leagues have a total of 38 players due to report for the second spring training session starting this week.

This total still could climb a bit since some of the 30 teams are well short of the 60-man roster limit at this point.

IndyBaseballChatter.com has identified the full list of players who will be on the 30-man active rosters or on the so-called "taxi" squad when play begins late in July.  The players with their major league affiliation and their former Independent teams:

Pitchers (30)--#Fernando Abad, Washington (Long Island, Atlantic League); #Tim Adleman, Detroit (Lincoln and El Paso, American Association; New Jersey, Can-Am League; Long Island); *Nick Anderson, Tampa Bay (Frontier Greys and Rockford, Frontier League); #David Carpenter, Cincinnati (Bridgeport, Atlantic); #Ross Detwiler, Chicago-AL (York, Atlantic); *Randy Dobnak, Minnesota (Utica, United Shore League); Wilmer Font, Toronto (Ottawa, Can-Am); #Luis Garcia, Texas (Newark, Can-Am); 4*Zac Grotz, Seattle (Bridgeport and York plus Washington, Frontier);  Junior Guerra, Arizona (Wichita, American Association); Rich Hill, Minnesota (Long Island); *James Hoyt, Cleveland (Wichita plus Yuma and Edinburg, North American League); Brandon Kintzler, Miami (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, Northern League); #Parker Markel, Los Angeles-AL (Sioux City, American Association); #Tyler Matzek, Atlanta (Texas, American Association); *Chris Martin, Atlanta (Grand Prairie, American Association); 4Chris Mazza, Boston (Southern Maryland, Atlantic, and San Rafael, Pacific Association); #Brian Moran, Toronto (Bridgeport); *James Paxton, New York-AL (Grand Prairie); #Alex Powers, Cincinnati (New Jersey); 4Trevor Richards, Tampa Bay (Gateway, Frontier); *Tanner Roark, Toronto (Southern Illinois, Frontier); Chaz Roe, Tampa Bay (Laredo, American Association); *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth, American Association); #D. J. Snelten, Tampa Bay (Chicago, American Association); Robert Stock, Philadelphia (New Jersey plus Normal, Frontier); #Caleb Thielbar, Minnesota (St. Paul); #Nik Turley, Pittsburgh (Somerset, Atlantic); Marcus Walden, Boston (Lancaster, Atlantic); 4Eric Yardley, Milwaukee (Trinidad and Taos, Pecos League).

Catchers (3)--4Mercedes Yermin, Chicago-AL (Douglas and White Sands, Pecos, and San Angelo (United League); #Rene Rivera, New York-NL (Camden, Atlantic); #Josh Thole, New York-AL (New Britain, Atlantic).

Infielders (4)--Jose Martinez (also OF), Tampa Bay (Rockford); #John Nogowski, St. Louis (Sioux City);  #Brandon Snyder, Washington (Southern Maryland); Ildemaro Vargas, Arizona (Bridgeport).

Outfielder (1)--David Peralta, Arizona (Wichita and Amarillo, American Association, and Rio Grande Valley, North American).

*First professional game was in an Independent league
4Is on 40-man major league roster but had been optioned to minor leagues
#Invited to training camp

Veteran St. Louis reliever John Brebbia (Sioux Falls and Laredo, American Association) will not be playing because he is on the 60-day injured list.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

INDEPENDENT LEAGUES STEP UP TO GIVE US SOME BASEBALL

The continued inability of the major league owners and players to reach an agreement despite so much revenue coming into the game every year could not be much more aggravating because it seems certain to severely wound baseball within the total sports world.  Continued in-fighting deprives fans of the benefits they derive from watching games either live or on television in these troubling times when everyone needs an outlet from the coronavirus, police brutality and the economic woes.

LISTEN UP.  Independent Baseball is stepping up to give the sport some game action, even though it may never reach nationwide TV screens or newspapers.

Let us all give a great big round of applause to the American Association and the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League.

Within the last week, Sugar Land has announced plans for a four-team league and six American Association teams (half of the regular league) have agreed to play.  The window will be short, starting in early July and running into September, but the players who take part will be able to shake off the rust of idleness and fans will be able to get a dose of what is expected every season even if most of it will come from websites or localized media coverage unless they happen to live in the vicinity of four specific stadiums.

Here are some details:

The American Association will play a 60-game schedule from three of its ballparks with two teams based at each site (unless states open up more opportunities).  The "regular" season will run from July 3-September 10 with playoffs to follow.  The hosts will be Sioux Falls, SD, Fargo, ND and Milwaukee, WI, with St. Paul also playing out of Sioux Falls, Winnipeg out of Fargo and the Chicago Dogs out of Milwaukee.

At Sugar Land, a Houston suburb, four teams made up what is described as "an assortment of professional players", including some with major league experience, will play 28 games apiece from July 3-August 23.

Former major league pitching star Roger Clemens and his son Koby will run one of the teams with former slugging star Pate Incaviglia another.  Incaviglia is the Skeeters' regular field boss.

Open tryouts for the Sugar Land event will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 24, at Constellation Field.  A registration form and waiver can be found at sugarlandskeeters.com/tryouts with a $100 fee.  The deadline is June 23 with no walk-up registrations the day of the event. 

Certain numbers of fans will be in attendance at all four locations although capacity will depend largely on what is allowed in a given state.

So place a great big star on your calendar for July 3 when Independent Baseball, which allows opportunity but limited salaries, opens its doors even though major leaguers almost certainly will not be playing.  The MLB variety of baseball still may be arguing how to split up their much larger pie.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

A FEW FORMER INDY PLAYERS MAY BENEFIT IF MLB ROSTERS EXPAND; MINOR LEAGUE CUTS RUN DEEP


            If the 2020 major league season ever gets off the ground virtually all of the 18 former Independent Baseball players on major league rosters seem likely to be on active rosters.  Much of the intrigue likely will turn to some others who could be added if rosters expand from 26 to 30 players and if teams are allowed to have another group--estimates have been 20 or so per team--as emergency replacements.

            The best bet among possible additions could be left-handed hurler Tyler Matzek, who was outstanding with the Atlanta Braves during spring training although officially working out of the minor league camp.  Matzek, who has major league experience, played for Texas in the American Association last season.

            Others who could be considered include pitchers Jason Creasy of Atlanta (formerly played for Southern Maryland and Long Island in the Atlantic League and St. Paul in the American Association), Trevor Richards of Tampa Bay (Gateway, Frontier League), Casey Crosby of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Chicago and Lincoln, American Association, and Lancaster, Atlantic), Parker Markel of the Los Angeles Angels (Sioux City, American Association), Kevin McCanna of Arizona (Sioux City), Tim Adleman of Detroit (Long Island, Lincoln and El Paso, American Association; New Jersey, Can Am League), Luis Garcia of Texas (Newark, Can Am) and Aaron Wilkerson of Milwaukee (Grand Prairie, American Association; Florence, Frontier; Fort Worth, United League).
 
            Position players in a similar situation include first baseman John Nogowski of St. Louis (Sioux City,  infielder Ryan Court of Oakland (Sioux City and Sugar Land, Atlantic) and catchers Yermin Mercedes of the Chicago White Sox (Douglas and White Sands, Pecos League, and San Angelo, United) and Rene Rivera of the New York Mets (Camden, Atlantic).

40 Former Indy Players Released

            Chris Mazza is one lucky guy even though he had been optioned to Triple-A by the Boston Red Sox prior to the stoppage of baseball in mid-March.
 
            The 30-year-old right-handed pitcher actually signed a new contract with the Red Sox recently while so many other players who have spent time in Independent league play in recent years have been released by their major league organization, as minor league rosters are trimmed down--way down, truthfully--since the farm clubs are not likely to play this season.

            IndyBaseballChatter.com has identified 40 former Independent players who have been released with more almost certainly to follow since eight of the major league organizations have not been accounted for as yet.

            Mazza, who finally debuted in the majors with the New York Mets last season after toiling in four other organizations, was in the Miami and Seattle organizations two years ago in addition to playing with Southern Maryland in the Atlantic League and San Rafael in the Pacific Association.  He made nine relief appearances in the majors (1-1, 5.51) last season, and was in three Red Sox exhibitions this spring, allowing seven runs in 4.2 innings of work.

            Four of the players released were non-roster invitees to major league spring training camps this spring.  That group includes pitchers Trey McNutt, Tim Melville and Nick Rumbelow and former major league outfielder Travis Snider.

            Another player who was let go was first baseman Keon Barnum, the American Association's player of the year as well as Baseball America's choice as Independent player of the year.

            The entire list of players released:

            Pitchers (25)--Ryan Atkinson, Geoff Bramblett, Adam Choplick, Jose Cuas, Alex Demchak,  Chris Dula, Kevin Folman, Logan Gillaspie, Noah Gotsis, Johnny Hellweg, Kent Hasler, Danny Hrbek, Micah Kaczor, Brandon Lawson, #Trey McNutt, #@Tim Melville, Ryan Newell, Kyle Olliges, Kyle Regnault, Dylan Rheault, Orlando Rodriguez, #Nick Rumbelow, Dylan Thompson, Michael Tonkin, Frank Valentino.        
            Catchers (2)--Lucas Herbert, Michael Hernandez.
            Infielders (8)--1B Keon Barnum, 2B Ryne Birk, 1B Skyler Ewing, Martin Figueroa, 1B Conrad Gregor, Angelo Mora, 3B Tyler Plantier, 3B T. J. Rivera.  
            Outfielders (5)--Edgar Corcino, Keith Curcio, Dondrei Hubbard, Max Murphy, #Travis Snider.

            #Was a non-roster invitee to a major league spring training camp earlier this year.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

VET LEFTIES MATZEK, CROSBY MAY GET MLB CALLS ONCE BASEBALL RESUMES


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.