Veteran Nelson Figueroa and fast-rising rookie Pete Parise will be able to carry a little extra pride when they report to spring training camps within the next two weeks.
The right-handers, both with Independent Baseball time on their resumes, were two of the four pitchers who made the Caribbean Series all-star team. Figueroa helped the Dominican Republic win the four-country competition with his complete-game, three-hit, eight-strikeout win over Mexico. Figueroa, who worked briefly for the Long Island (NY) Ducks of the Atlantic League, hopes to be back with the New York Mets, either as the fifth starter or in the bullpen.
Parise, who we featured in last week's Independent Baseball Insider column, seems destined to get quality attention from the St. Louis Cardinals after picking up where he left off with his hot finish last season as the closer for Triple-A Memphis. The 25-year-old pitched in three of Puerto Rico's six Caribbean Series games, posting a perfect 0.00 ERA and striking out seven while allowing only four hits over six innings. Parise started his professional career in 2007, pitching for Slippery Rock, PA in the Frontier League. He is a non-roster invitee for St. Louis
Another 25-year-old out of the Frontier League (Florence, KY) also got steady playing time in the Caribbean Series. Venezuelan native Erold Andrus went 5-for-22 (.227). Among Atlantic League vets, Bill Pulsipher (Long Island) went 1-0, 1.80 in five innings, former Duck and current pitching coach Bill Simas had an identical earned run average for his five frames. Jason Simontacchi (Long Island and Bridgeport, CT) was at 1.59 for 5.2 innings, Heath Totten (York, PA) lost a game but had a 3.86 ERA in 4.2 innings. First baseman Willis Otanez (Bridgeport and Newark, NJ) was 3-for-13 (.231), playing in four of six games for the Dominican champs.
NON-ROSTER COUNT STAYS AT 18
As the number of major league teams that have not announced their full list of non-roster invitees for spring training narrows, the count of onetime Independent players on the list that we can identify continues to hold at 18. This is in addition to 22 players already on 40-man winter rosters.