The 30 teams have elevated on average three or four minor leaguers to protect them from next month's draft, but the good news did not come for any of those with Indy experience. That may be, in part, because of so many promotions during the 2011 season when a record-tying 40 onetime Independent players were on active major league rosters.
Players like Dylan Axelrod (Chicago White Sox), Justin Christian (San Francisco), Steve Delabar (Seattle), Eric Hamren (San Diego) and Jerome Williams (Los Angeles Angels) already hold down big-league roster slots.
JOSE YEPEZ GETS MAJOR LEAGUE INVITATION
The next step is the handing out of non-roster invitations to major league spring training camps. There likely will be some three dozen of those invites, and the first one (we have seen) belongs to catcher Jose Yepez (Pensacola, FL, American Association and Gary, IN, of the same league but in the Northern League during his time). Yepez became a free agent this fall and quickly signed with the Atlanta Braves.
Yepez, 30, hit .307 in 48 games for Triple-A Tacoma, WA this summer and spent several days with the parent Seattle Mariners although he is still looking for his initial major league game action. He had three full seasons (2005-07) in Independent Baseball.
Several more players with Independent experience have been promoted to higher levels as major league organizations set their winter rosters and, in some instances, protect their rights to the players unless another team is willing to pay a higher draft price. This group, with their former Indy teams, includes:
LHP Andrew Albers (Quebec, Can-Am League) from AA to AAA by Minnesota
1B Chris Garcia (New Jersey, Can-Am, and Shreveport, LA, American Association) from
A to AAA by Atlanta
*RHP Matt Kramer (Sioux City, IA, American Association, and Harlingen, TX, United
League) from Rookie to AA by Boston
RHP Robert Roth (McAllen, TX, North American League; Grand Prairie, TX, American
Association; Windy City, Frontier League; Laredo, TX, United) from A to AA by
OF Brandon Tripp (St. Paul, MN, American Association) from A to AA by Philadelphia
C Zach Zeneski (Midwest, Frontier) from A to AA by Texas
*First professional game was in an Independent league.
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