Wednesday, February 18, 2015


By the time all position players have reported to spring training in little more than a week, 52 players who have spent time in one or more Independent leagues will be wearing major league uniforms, records compiled by the blog reveal. This is an increase of one over last year and the number of players on 40-man rosters has jumped from 25 to 28. The rest of the players are non-roster invitees.

Forty-one pitchers are included.

The American Association tops all leagues with 20 players, four more than the Atlantic League, with eight representing the Frontier League and five the Can-Am. Several leagues no longer operating also have representation.

The list with major league affiliation and previous Independent leagues and teams, with those who started in a non-affiliated league identified with an asterisk (*) and non-roster players shown with an “n”:

Pitchers (41)—nAndrew Albers, Toronto (Quebec, Can-Am League); Dylan Axelrod, Cincinnati (Windy City, Frontier League); Craig Breslow, Boston (New Jersey, Northeast League); nBrian Broderick, Kansas City (Sugar Land, Atlantic League); n*Greg Burke, Toronto (Atlantic City, Atlantic); nAngel Castro, Oakland (Lincoln, American Association); *Aaron Crow, Miami (Fort Worth, American Association); Brandon Cunniff, Atlanta (Southern Illinois and River City, Frontier); Steve Delabar, Toronto (Brockton, Can-Am League, and Florence, Frontier); nDane DeLaRosa, Baltimore (Southern Maryland, Atlantic; El Paso, American Association; and Victoria, Orange County, Long Beach and Yuma, all Golden League); Jon Edwards, Texas (San Angelo, North American League, and Alpine, Pecos League); Luis Garcia, Philadelphia (Newark, Can-Am); nMark Hamburger, Minnesota (St. Paul, American Association); nMark Hendrickson, Baltimore (York, Atlantic); n*Luke Hochevar, Kansas City (Fort Worth, American Association); John Holdzkom, Pittsburgh (Amarillo and Sioux City, American Association, and San Angelo, United League); n*James Hoyt, Houston (Wichita, American Association, and Edinburg and Yuma, North American); Scott Kazmir, Oakland (Sugar Land, Atlantic); nLogan Kensing, Chicago-AL (Bridgeport, Atlantic); Brandon Kintzler, Milwaukee (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, Northern League); nJason Lane, San Diego (Sugar Land and Southern Maryland, Atlantic); nMitch Lively, Washington (San Angelo, United); *Chris Martin, New York-AL (Grand Prairie, American Association); Vidal Nuno, Arizona (Washington, Frontier); *James Paxton, Seattle (Grand Prairie, American Association); nScott Rice, New York Mets (York, Long Island, and Newark, Atlantic); *Tanner Roark, Washington (Southern Illinois, Frontier); nChaz Roe, Baltimore (Laredo, American Association); Drew Rucinski, Los Angeles Angels (Rockford, Frontier); nCody Satterwhite, New York-NL (Sioux City, American Association); *Tanner Scheppers, Texas (St. Paul, American Association); *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth, American Association); Bo Schultz, Toronto (Sioux Falls and Grand Prairie, American Association); nJoe Thatcher, Houston (River City, Frontier); Caleb Thielbar, Minnesota (St. Paul, American Association); *Ian Thomas, Atlanta (York, Atlantic, and Winnipeg, Northern and American Association); nJon Velasquez, New York – NL (Camden, Atlantic, and Rockland, Can-Am); Tom Wilhelmsen, Seattle (Tucson, Golden League); Jerome Williams, Philadelphia (Lancaster, Atlantic, and Long Beach, Golden); nDontrelle Willis, Milwaukee (Bridgeport and Long Island, Atlantic); Brad Ziegler, Arizona (Schaumburg, Northern).

Catchers (3) – Rene Rivera, Tampa Bay (Camden, Atlantic); nEddy Rodriguez, New York-AL (Sioux Falls and El Paso, American Association); nJose Yepez, Atlanta (Pensacola, American Association, and Gary, Northern).

Infielders (4) — n*1B-OF Chris Colabello, Toronto (Worcester and Nashua, Can-Am), *2B-SS Stephen Drew, New York-AL (Camden, Atlantic); n1B Matt Fields, Kansas City (Southern Illinois, Frontier); n1B-OF Jake Fox, Toronto (Somerset, Atlantic).

Outfielders (4) — nBen Francisco, Lancaster (Atlantic); *Daniel Nava, Boston (Chico, Golden); David Peralta, Arizona (Amarillo and Wichita, American Association, and Rio Grande Valley, North American); nAntoan Richardson, Texas (Schaumburg, Northern).

THE INDEPENDENT BASEBALL INSIDER will resume in March. Request a free sample column from December in order to be automatically reminded when the column starts for 2015.

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Monday, February 09, 2015


This could be one of the biggest weeks in longtime Can-Am League star Chris Colabello’s baseball life since the 10-day window after he was designated for assignment by his new team, Toronto, will expire.

This means the 31-year-old first baseman-outfielder will either become a free agent or have his contract picked up by another major league team. It seems unlikely he would re-sign a minor league pact with the Blue Jays although Korea or some other foreign league could once again come into play.


What a bizarre finish to the Caribbean Series with Cuba, which only scored seven runs in its first four games and down 4-0 in the semifinals, bouncing back to oust Venezuela 8-4, then finish off Mexico 3-2 on Sunday.

Two former Independent players had great offensive series for Venezuela with catcher Jose Gil (Lincoln, NE, American Association) enhancing his free agent status by going 5-for-11 (.455) with four runs and one RBI in three appearances after hitting .328 during the winter league season and Can-Am MVP Balbino Fuenmayor (Quebec) going 7-for-19 (.368) while playing in all five games. The first baseman, now Kansas City property, had a homer and three runs batted in.

Frontier League grad Terance Marin (Evansville, IN), now in the Chicago White Sox system, was a mound standout for Mexico, picking up a win in relief and another with a six-inning start (no earned runs) against Cuba. He had 8.2 innings in all without allowing an earned run.

Free agent Gary Majewski (Sugar Land, TX, Atlantic League) hurled two scoreless innings over three appearances for Mexico while teammate Marquez Smith (Camden, NJ, Atlantic) went 0-for-5 in his two appearances. He now belongs to Cincinnati. For host Puerto Rico, Rene Rivera (Camden) caught all four games, going 3-for-16 with an RBI and lefty Jon Velasquez (Camden and Rockland County, Can-Am) had two strikeouts in his only appearance of one inning in relief. Rivera now heads to Tampa Bay’s major league camp and Velasquez to the New York Mets. Free agent Mark Serrano (Laredo, TX, American Association) was on the Venezuela roster but did not pitch.


With the help of Somerset, NJ (Atlantic League) closer and player personnel boss Jon Hunton, we can report on several players on our most recent list of free agents.

Pitcher Virgil Vasquez (Southern Maryland, Atlantic) and shortstop Vance Albitz (Lincoln) have retired as players to join the minor league systems of Minnesota and St. Louis, respectively. Veteran lefty Raul Valdes (New Jersey Jackals and Nashua, NH, Can-Am) has signed to play for Chunichi in Japan and Jarrett Grube (Southern Maryland) has inked a deal to pitch in Mexico.

THE INDEPENDENT BASEBALL INSIDER will resume in March. Request a free sample column from December in order to be automatically reminded when the column starts for 2015.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2015


After all of the shuffling of rosters that goes on between the individual league championships and the Caribbean Series, I have spotted seven current or former Independent players who are on the 28-man rosters for these climactic winter league games being played now in Puerto Rico. There may be others.

The Camden (NJ) RiverSharks of the Atlantic League should have considerable interest with a trio of their former players involved. Catcher Rene Rivera, expected to carry a significant load with Tampa Bay this season, went 1-for-4 with an RBI in Puerto Rico’s opening 5-2 loss to Venezuela. Jon Velasquez, who will be an invitee in the New York Mets’ spring training camp, is on the Puerto Rican mound staff and first baseman Marquez Smith (Cincinnati farm system) is with Mexico. Velasquez also played for Rockland County in the Can-Am League.

Another Atlantic Leaguer with Mexico is Gary Majewski, a strong part of the Sugar Land, TX bullpen the last three seasons. Venezuela has a trio of Indy players, including catcher Jose Gil (Lincoln, NE, American Association), who played a big role in that opening victory by going 2-for-3 with two runs. He hit .328 during the regular winter league season. Laredo, TX (American Association) right-hander Mark Serrano and first baseman Balbino Fuenmayor (Quebec, Can-Am and recently signed by Kansas City) also play for Venezuela. Fuenmayor was 0-for-4 in the opener.


It was significant news last summer when 32-year-old Yuniesky Gurriel became the first player to receive the Cuban government’s approval to play in North America, and the outfielder joined the Can-Am League’s Quebec Capitales. He likely will be back there this season after hitting .321 in 30 games. did a major feature on the Gurriel family (spelling it Gourriel) timed to the opening of the Caribbean Series because Lourdes Gurriel, Sr., is a baseball hero in Cuba and he has three quality baseball-playing sons. Yuniesky played center field for Havana this winter although he is not on the Caribbean Series roster, while Yulieski and youngest brother Lourdes, Jr. both are infielders on the team. Yulieski is expected to return to Japan for the regular season and Lourdes may join him. Cuba has dropped its first two games, losing 6-1 to the Dominican Republic today (Tuesday).


It is unquestioned that Boston outfielder Daniel Nava has been one of Independent Baseball’s biggest success stories. Now the onetime Golden League Player of the Year (Chico, CA) has his biggest contract at $1.85 million, and the switch-hitter is thinking about trying to bat only from the left side where he has been much stronger.

“Essentially, all I’m doing different is just trying to see how lefty on lefty feels,” he told WEEI Radio in Beantown recently. “But I’m still going to be working as a switch-hitter…I really have to see what lefty-lefty feels like. But I’m open to doing (it) to hopefully get myself on the field more and be more productive.”

THE INDEPENDENT BASEBALL INSIDER will resume in March. Request a free sample column from December in order to be automatically reminded when the column starts for 2015.

Get the independent minor league baseball trivia question of the day by clicking this link: Independent Minor League Baseball Trivia Questions