President Bill Waliewski will receive the Minor League Executive of the Year award at the star-studded Pitch and Hit Club's 66th annual banquet in Chicago Sunday night. The selection of Waliewski also gives nice recognition to Independent Baseball in a major league-dominated setting.
Among others to be honored are Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, major league general managers Dave Dombrowski and Doug Melvin, longtime Chicago-area baseball hero Minnie Minoso and New York Yankees centerfielder Curtis Granderson, a product of the area.
CORY ALDRIDGE BACK IN USA; TWO MORE NON-ROSTER INVITES
Among recent player signings, Baltimore has inked outfielder Cory Aldridge, who played in Korea last year. It would not be a shock to see the 32-year-old Aldridge get some time in the Birds' major league camp even though he was placed on the Double-A Bowie, MD roster. The lefty hitter spent most of 2008 with Newark, NJ before the Bears moved from the Atlantic League to the Can-Am League, and two years later he won a brief promotion to the Los Angeles Angels, playing in five games. Aldridge had made a big impression when he hit .395 (15-for-38) in 26 spring training games for the Angels.
Lefty James Paxton, who some feel could jump to the parent Seattle Mariners roster this season, has officially been invited to the team's major league spring training camp in Arizona. Paxton broke into the professional ranks with Grand Prairie, TX in the American Association, and recently was placed at No. 77 on a list of best major league prospects.
Cody Clark, who caught for San Diego in the Golden League's infancy and a longtime Kansas City farmhand, has once again been given a spring training invitation from the Royals.
The non-roster count for onetime Independent players is up to 32.
ODDS 'N ENDS
Onetime Northeast League president and Indy investor Jeff Kunion was recently named president of the upstate New York-based Perfect Game collegiate league...It was disappointing to learn that longtime major league first baseman-outfielder Daryle Ward was handed a 50-game suspension for use of banned amphetamines. Now 36, Ward played at Newark in 2009-10-11. He also was in the White Sox and Arizona farm systems last year. Ward is a free agent, but would have to sit out 50 games if he signs with a major league organization...The rumor mill is mentioning former Newark and Long Island, NY (Atlantic League) outfielder Jay Gibbons, a free agent, as a possible candidate to get a look from the New York Mets. Gibbons hit .255 in 55 at-bats for the Los Angeles Dodgers early last season.
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