Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Veteran lefty Wandy Rodriguez or power-pitching rookie James Hoyt?

That seems to be one of the remaining questions in the Houston Astros’ spring training camp less than one week before the major league season opens.

Hoyt has been exceptional for the second spring in a row for the Astros, but experience, especially from lefties, always seems to be a premium.

If the 29-year-old Hoyt does make it he will be among less than four dozen players since 1993 who started their professional journey in Independent leagues and without being drafted and reached The Show.

Eighteen strikeouts in only 9.2 innings this spring has been the eye-popping story for the right-hander, who fanned 66 Pacific Coast League hitters in 47 innings last year at Fresno. Hoyt has been touched for only four hits (has walked six) and has a 1.86 ERA in eight appearances.

He started his pro career in the defunct North American League at Yuma, AZ and Edinburg, TX in 2011-12, then went 2-0, 2.61 in 12 outings in the recognized American Association (Wichita, KS) before getting his first affiliated opportunity in the Atlanta farm system in ’13.


Rich Hill, a major league veteran who had to start rebuilding his reputation at Long Island, NY, of the Atlantic League late last season, went into spring training as the best new name to emerge after spending time in Independent Baseball, but the Oakland southpaw does not have that role entirely to himself.

Chien-Ming Wang (Southern Maryland, Atlantic) has been another feel-good comeback story during spring training and likely will start the season with the World Series champion Kansas City Royals.

Still others from the Independent ranks who appear to be continuing their fight for Opening Day jobs include infielder Robert Andino (Somerset, NJ, Atlantic) with Miami and reliever Logan Kensing (Bridgeport, CT, Atlantic) with Detroit.

The total count of players with Independent experience who will be on Opening Day rosters appears to be between 15 and 20. Thirty-seven such players were in the majors at least part of last season.

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

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