The list of former Independent Baseball players we just polished up in finishing our annual book called The Independent Minor Leagues: 2007 Season in Review who have current ties to a major league organization totaled a highly-respectable 210. That group includes about 65 who became six-year free agents recently. They can shop their services, but some probably also will be left on the outside. In that case, they will need to go back to an Independent league or head off to the outside world.
It is far too early to make many judgments, but the first three players we have seen with new contracts seem to have improved themselves. And in all cases, more experience--and presumably more maturity of their baseball skills--may prove beneficial in their newest opportunities.
Jeff Nettles stayed with Kansas City, however, climbing an important notch from Class AA to AAA. Paul Abraham did the same within the San Diego organization, and Bobby Brownlie moved from a postseason and strong Cleveland organization to Washington while also inking at the Triple-A level (Columbus).
This may make Brownlie the biggest winner of the trio since the Nationals certainly need pitching.
Nettles, now 29, signed with the Royals in the middle of last season after four and a half years with the Somerset (NJ) Patriots in the Atlantic League. Clearly, the right-handed hitting son of former major league standout Graig Nettles improved his power stroke a great deal since the last time he was in Triple-A at the age of 24 in 2002. He showed that while hitting 14 doubles and eight homers in only 58 games at Wichita, where he also drove in 41 runs. One problem for him with KC is that Alex Gordon is ahead of him at the hot corner.
Abraham, 27, will get his first Triple-A opportunity at Portland, OR, four years after his brief stint at Quebec, where he did not give up a single run in seven apperances. The righthander had an impressive 2.39 earned run average in 47 games for San Antonio in 2007. He allowed only 39 hits in 52.2 innings and struck out 53 while posting a 1-3 record with eight saves.
Brownlie, a onetime first rounder with the Cubs (2002), was in the Atlantic League the first part of this summer, even starting on the mound in the All-Star Game. When the Indians came calling, he went to Double-A Akron, OH where he had a 2.98 ERA in eight starts (3.17 in nine games overall). Only 27, Brownlie may be in a prime spot to work his way to the new stadium in Washington, DC, and the level forecast for him when he came out of Rutgers.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
IT LOOKS LIKE A COMING OF AGE
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.