--The hottest Independent team today may be the Gary (IN) Southshore Railcats, but that shouldn't be too shocking since Greg Tagert already has two championships in six previous seasons with the team, which now plays in the American Association. Gary (43-27) has won 10 of its last 11 games to lead the Central Division by 3 1/2 games.
--I keep hoping to see some good news about Matt Kramer, who previously played in both the American Association (Sioux City, IA) and United League (Harlingen, TX), but the Boston farmhand still is struggling in his conversion from catching to pitching. The 25-year-old Harvard product is being given an opportunity at the lowest possible level, the Gulf Coast League, but the right-hander has a 6.75 earned run average for his four innings of work with a frightful 10 walks and no strikeouts even though he has not surrendered a single hit.
--Lefty Raul Valdes is back in the minors (Memphis) after seven appearances with the parent St. Louis Cardinals. The 33-year-old Cuban lost his only decision and had an acceptable 3.38 ERA as National League hitters batted .273 against the onetime Can-Am League (New Jersey and Nashua, NH) hurler. Valdes debuted in the majors with 38 games for the New York Mets (3-3, 4.91) last season.
--Eleven former Indy players are currently active in the majors with another four, including brothers J.D. and Stephen Drew, on the disabled list.
--Wily Mo Pena (Bridgeport, CT, Atlantic League) debuts with his new organization this weekend, joining Seattle's top farm club in Tacoma, WA. With a good start, the slugger could easily find himself with the struggling Mariners in a very short time.
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