The most recent signings we have seen include right-handed pitcher Tim Dillard (Lancaster, PA, Atlantic League) with Milwaukee, first baseman Matt Fields (Southern Illinois, Frontier League) with Kansas City, and both first baseman Seth Loman (St. George, UT, Golden League) and catcher Jose Yepez (Pensacola, FL, American Association, and Gary, IN, Northern League) with Atlanta. Loman has a Double-A deal, the others received Triple-A contracts.
Max Scherzer (Fort Worth, TX, American Association) is easily the highest profile free agent among those who have played Independent Baseball, although the list compiled for the Independent Baseball Insider includes 76 other players. The list (those who were in the major leagues at any time during 2014 are in bold face):
RHP (31): Mitch Atkins, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Eric Brooks, Greg Burke, Robert Coello, Michael Colla, Dane DeLaRosa, Julio DePaula, Shane Dyer, Jarrett Grube, Erik Hamren, Tyler Herron, Shawn Hill, Josh Judy, Kenn Kasparek, Logan Kensing, Josh Kinney, Michael Lee, Anthony Lerew, Mitch Lively, Terance Marin, Mike McClendon, Kyler Newby, Michael Nix, Mark Pope, Scott Richmond, Mark Serrano, Daniel Stange, Brett Tomko, Virgil Vasquez, Zak Wasserman.
LHP (13): Kyle Anderson, Craig Breslow, Brian Burres, Tony Davis, Chad James, Kris Johnson, Zach Kroenke, Jason Lane, James Leverton, Efrain Nieves, Greg Smith, Joe Thatcher, Raul Valdes.
C (9): Craig Albernaz, (OF) Alex Burg, Mitch Canham, Jose Gil, Ralph Henriquez, Eddy Rodriguez, J.R. Towles, J.T. Wise, Zach Zaneski.
IF (14): (SS) Vance Albitz, (OF) Brian Burgamy, (3B) Mike Costanzo, Maikol Gonzalez, (SS) Daniel Mayora, (1B) Mark Minicozzi, (1B) Cody Overbeck, (SS) Jaime Pedroza, (1B-OF) Brock Peterson, Anthony Seratelli, (1B) Curt Smith, Marquez Smith, Nate Spears, (SS) Hainley Statia.
OF (9): Cory Aldridge, Brandon Boggs, Yusuf Carter, Justin Christian, Javier Herrera, Quincy Latimore, Dustin Martin, Antoan Richardson, Burt Reynolds.
ONETIME RELUCTANT INDY HURLER CHANGES HIS MIND
Brandon Cunniff feared his professional career might be at an end when the Marlins, who had drafted him, released him when he was only 21. He did not want to play Independent Baseball, at least initially.
“When I showed up to spring training (with River City at O’Fallon, MO, in 2011), talked to the guys and saw the talent that some of the guys had, I was like ‘wow, this is just like affiliated ball’. I really just didn’t know what to expect (until that time).” The right-handed hurler spent two plus seasons in the Frontier League (River City and Southern Illinois) when the Atlanta Braves came calling. He has had a year and a half in the Braves’ farm system now, including much of 2014 with Class AA Mississippi, and was rewarded this fall with an invitation that only major league prospects receive of going to the Arizona Fall League.
Still only 26, Cunniff has prospered in the AFL, too, taking a 2-0 record and two saves along with a 3.46 ERA over 10 appearances (13 innings) into the final days of the season.
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