It is mere hours before the World Series starts, but I know, what you really want is some Independent Baseball news. So, here are a few nuggets.
FUTURE MAJOR LEAGUERS?
Here are a couple of names to keep in mind as possible Indy grads who may some day be added to the 149 others who have gotten to the majors after playing in one or more non-affiliated leagues.
Both right-handed pitcher Will Savage and third baseman Corey Smith are in the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system, but at a time of year when major league organizations often drop players they have signed new contracts. And, both have some time to reach the top. Savage is 26, Smith 28.
Savage was 5-7 with a strong 2.94 earned run average in 19 starts for Wichita, KS (American Association) in 2009, then finished with two appearances (1-0, 3.24) for Lancaster, PA of the Atlantic League. A Philadelphia draftee in 2007 after playing in college at Oklahoma, Savage was 10-5 with a 4.32 earned run average split with three Dodgers clubs this season. He ended up with Double-A Chattanooga, where the going was tough(0-1, 10.80 in four starts), but the Dodgers obviously like the upside.
Smith, who we wrote about frequently in our Atlantic League Notebook
and Independent Baseball Insider
for his all-star performance in the Southern League (Chattanooga) this season, was one key factor in Newark, NJ winning the Atlantic League title in 2007. He drove in 86 runs this season, and Los Angeles has promoted him to Triple-A Albuquerque.
Kansas City has re-signed catcher Cody Clark, who was .255-4-25 at Triple-A Omaha. Clark and Smith also got some at-bats in major league spring training this last season.
Savage and Smith are now playing in Venezuela. Savage is 0-0, 0.93 for two starts at Margarita while Smith had a three-run homer in his initial game for LaGuaira.
MORE HOT WINTER LEAGUE STATS
Outfielder Jon Weber, the New York Yankees' top rookie last spring training who later walked away from a Detroit minor league job when the major leagues were about to hand down a 100-game suspension, continues to swing a sizzling bat in the Mexican Pacific League. The onetime Northern Leaguer (Fargo, ND) and Frontier Leaguer (Canton, OH) ranks fifth in hitting at .405 (17-for-42), is tied for third in RBI (11), fifth in on-base percentage (.469) and second in slugging (.667).
Current Yankees minor league outfielder Justin Christian, who started his pro career in the Frontier League (River City, O'Fallon, MO), is next in hitting at .400 (20-for-50). Christian, who got to experience 24 games in the majors in an earlier stint with the Yankees, played briefly at Southern Maryland (Waldorf) in the Atlantic League last season.
Another outfielder, Michael Ryan, a Somerset, NJ (Atlantic League) grad who got some time in the majors again this season (Los Angeles Angels) before becoming a free agent this fall, is tied for fifth in the Venezuelan batting race at .378 (17-for-45).
On the mound, lefty Alberto Castillo, a reliever with Baltimore off and on in 2010, threw six innings of two-hit shutout ball this week. The onetime Newark, NJ and Road Warriors hurler (both Atlantic League) leads the Venezuelan League early on with a 1.54 ERA and has won his first two decisions.
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