The North American League, approaching only its second season since the merger of portions of three Indy leagues, also appears to have lost one of its banner franchises in Chico, CA. Neither the league or Nettleton Stadium owner Chico State University has signed off entirely, but that appears to be the next step.
In both the Brockton and Chico cases strong local ownership could save the day, but that is not an easy-to-find solution most anywhere these days.
RECENT SIGNINGS WITH ANTOAN RICHARDSON IN A NEW HOME
Free agent Antoan Richardson, the fleet outfielder who once stole 66 bases in the South Atlantic League and pilfered 20 in only 27 games during his first Northern League stint (Schaumburg, IL, 2009), has joined the Baltimore organization.
Playing at 27, the onetime Palm Beach State and Vanderbilt University player spent most of last season with Atlanta's Double-A Mississippi club (.283-1-21 in 91 games) and got his first major league experience in September. Richardson went 2-for-4 with two runs and a stolen base in nine appearances during the parent Braves' stretch run. No word yet whether Richardson will get a non-roster invitation from the Orioles.
Two other players re-signed with their current organization, catcher Rene Rivera (Camden, NJ, Atlantic League) with Minnesota and outfielder Mike Spidale (Kansas City, KS, when the American Association's T-Bones still were in the Northern League) with Philadelphia.
Rivera got considerable time with the parent Twins in 2011, but the solid defender only hit .144, and he likely will face a more difficult challenge to return to the American League with Minnesota bringing on a stronger hitter in veteran Ryan Doumit to back up Joe Mauer. The Twins also still have another defensive minded backstop on the 40-man roster in Drew Butera.
Spidale has been a fixture in the Phillies' system for several years, mostly at Class AA Reading, PA and occasionally a level higher at Lehigh Valley (Allentown, PA) without reaching the majors. He was a mid-year all-star in the Eastern League last summer, and hit .326 in 133 games with five homers, 35 RBI and 20 steals.
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