Wednesday, October 27, 2010
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.
Friday, October 22, 2010
--Scott Patterson, who was closing for Lancaster, PA (Atlantic League) as recently as the early weeks of this season before signing with Seattle, has a loss to go with a 2.67 ERA for his first six innings. The right-hander started his pro career at Gateway (Sauget, IL) in the Frontier League.
--Another 2010 Atlantic Leaguer (Southern Maryland, Waldorf), Jarrett Grube is 1-1, 1.64 and has not walked anyone in 11 innings covering two starts. He also played in the Seattle organization this season.
--Jon Huber (Lancaster) is off to a rocky start with a loss and a 7.71 ERA for 4.2 innings. He is in the Los Angeles Dodgers system.
--Catcher Jose Yepez, a Seattle minor leaguer who played at Pensacola, FL (American Association) and Gary, IN (Northern League), is 6-for-25 (.240) and getting considerable playing time.
--Right-hander Jon Hunton (Oakland farm system) is 1-0, 2.25 for four outings. He has been with five different Independent teams, including New Jersey (Little Falls) in the Can-Am League, Somerset, NJ and Lancaster, Atlantic League, and Fort Worth, TX plus Coastal Bend (Robstown, TX) in the American Association.
--Speedy outfielder Justin Christian, a New York Yankees farmhand, is flying out of the gate with a .344 average (11-for-32) with two home runs. Christian played briefly at Southern Maryland this spring and started his professional career in the Frontier League (River City, O'Fallon, MO).
--Infielder Jacob Blackwood, who made a solid bid for the Triple Crown while playing at Kansas City, KS (one of the teams transferring from the Northern League to the American Association), is at .241 (7-for-29) but has a homer and six RBI (7 games). Blackwood signed after the Indy season with San Francisco.
--Southpaw Nick Bierbrodt has been near perfect in four appearances (0.00 ERA), giving up just two hits and two walks in four innings. He has worked at Bridgeport, CT and Somerset in the Atlantic League and Long Beach, CA in the Golden League
and belongs to the Rockies.
--Outfielder Cory Aldridge, who got some time with the parent Angels this summer and remains on their 40-man roster, is off to a slow start (5-for-29, .172) although he has driven in five runs in his first seven games.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
A few new nuggets were cleared up at the end of the American Association meetings in Grand Prairie, TX Wednesday although the primary news was the official addition of the four teams from the Northern League that we told subscribers about in our Independent Baseball Insider column last week. What we learned Wednesday:
**There will be three divisions in the 14-team league in 2011 with newcomers Fargo, ND and Winnipeg, CA joining St. Paul, MN and Sioux Falls, SD in one grouping and Gary, IN and Kansas City, KS joining holdovers Lincoln, NE, Sioux City, IA and Wichita, KS in a five-team bracket. These two divisions mean some of the rivalries that existed prior to 2006 when the American Association was formed will resume. Southern holdovers Pensacola, FL, Shreveport-Bossier, LA and the three Texas franchises in El Paso, Fort Worth and Grand Prairie continue to make up the other division.
**The schedule will increase from 96 to 100 games, which the Northern League had this season.
**The salary cap will increase, with reports varying on what the total will be.
It seems likely the American Association rule which requires a minimum of five rookies on each team will be retained. The NL only required four. Playoffs also need to be ironed out although a logical step would match the three divisional champions and a wild card unless the league wants more than four teams to qualify. That would not be unreasonable even though some teams look at being in the postseason as taking more drain on team finances.
Northern League Commissioner Clark Griffith is quoted in one report that the veteran circuit will continue even though it is down to four teams at this point.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
To say that changes are occurring in Independent Baseball would be a major understatement. Not a single league is left out as major movement is taking place, and one established league may disappear altogether.
We are sorting it out as quickly as possible, and will report on every move--announced or not--in Thursday's Independent Baseball Insider column.
Monday, October 04, 2010
THE DRAMA OF 2010 PLAYS OUT WITH SURREAL VIDEO OF JOHN LINDSEY AND A SURPRISING ATLANTIC LEAGUE FINISH
THE INDY SEASON ENDS IN EXCITING FASHION
The Independent Baseball season ended with all the drama one would hope for late Saturday night.
York, PA, which had to be given the longest of odds when the four-team Atlantic League playoffs started because of a struggling second half of the season and major questions about its pitching, rallied from three runs down in the eighth and ninth innings, finally pulling even at 4-4 when the apparent final out of the game went awry for the host Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish. Andy Etchebarren's Revolution went ahead in the top of the 10th and held on behind the right arm of their eighth pitcher of the evening, Michael Nix, to win, 5-4 and complete a three-game sweep for a worst-to-first turnaround and their initial title since joining the league in 2007.
The four-hour, 16-minute contest lacked some of the artistry of a normal game, with 17 hits, 18 walks, 22 strikeouts, seven errors and 26 runners left on base, but it did not lack for tension.
Both teams were less than full strength, but Bridgeport had the worst of it with cleanup hitter Josh Phelps lost the previous night with a broken hand and switch-hitting infielder Victor Mercedes, one of the Bluefish's key hitters down the stretch, departing to pick up a big paycheck playing for the Dominican Republic in a World Cup-qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico. York was without outfielder Erold Andrus, who left the team even though he had come off the bench with a 2-for-2 performance (home run, single) in Game 2.
The new champions were scheduled to be honored in York on Monday.