Wednesday, November 21, 2007


What could possibly be better as we head to that big Thanksgiving dinner than a couple of Independent Baseball appetizers? And now we have them.

The New York Yankees moved smartly into the Independent player bag once more to re-sign a great big turkey (I could not resist) in the form of 6-foot-6, 230-pound Scott Patterson. And this time they gave the 28-year-old righthander, who labored his first four and a half professional seasons in Indy baseball, a major league contract. Spring training in Tampa with the big guys.

Another piece of news Wednesday came about on the Texas-Arkansas border where the Continental League announced it will have an expansion franchise next season in Texarkana, which has been without professional baseball since 1953.

Wouldn't it be something if the Yankees ended up with both Patterson and changeup artist Edwar Ramirez in their bullpen next season. Don't laugh, Ramirez, twice released by the Angels but revived during Independent stints in Pensacola, FL and Edinburg, TX, was in 21 games for New York this season, striking out 31 (but walking 14) in 21 innings.

Patterson had a dazzling first full season in the Yankees' farm system. His eye-popping stats at Class AA Trenton, NJ included 91 strikeouts and only 15 walks and 45hits in 74.1 innings. His earned run average was a miniscule 1.46, and it was even better at 1.02 for his 40 bullpen appearances. He didn't fare badly in his three early season starts, either, and finished with three innings of hitless relief in his lone outing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, PA.

This product of West Virginia State went 21-7 in his first three seasons in the Frontier League (Gateway, Sauget, IL), then really turned it on once he started closing for the Grizzlies and Lancaster, PA in the Atlantic League in 2005 and 2006.

The Continental League may have had its best day yet Wednesday when it added Texarkana for its second season in the Lone Star State. Ron Baron's league had three teams in what amounted to high school facilities and a road team in its first year. It obviously needs more power to take its place alongside the more established Independent leagues. Texarkana might be the first step.

The mayors of both Texarkana, TX, and Texarkana, AR, were among the dignataries who expressed their enthusiasm during Wednesday's media conference announcing the team, and Baron indicated more teams may be added before next season. The yet-to-be-named Texarkana team will play in George Dobson Field, which is expected to seat 1,600 fans by the time the expanded schedule starts in May.

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