Thursday, October 22, 2020
Wednesday, October 07, 2020
Both the NL Division Series between Atlanta and Miami and the ALDS tussle featuring Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees are terrific showcases for the type of relief pitchers Independent Baseball can brag about these days.
The Braves and Marlins both have a pair of bullpen stars with Indy experience. With Atlanta holding the upper hand entering play Wednesday, southpaw Tyler Matzek and righty Chris Martin are key pieces for getting crucial outs. Matzek was with the Texas AirHogs in the American Association as recently as last season, harnessing his control and preparing for a comeback in the majors after a five-year absence. He struck out three in a row in a key spot for Atlanta in its Game 1 win after being among baseball's busiest relievers during the regular season.
The same is true for the 6-foot-8 Martin, who started his professional career in the same location although the team was known in those days as the Grand Prairie AirHogs.
On the suddenly impressive Marlins, Brandon Kintzler (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg when the Goldeyes still were in the Northern League) is the closer. Another right-hander, James Hoyt, has finally started earning important innings after previously struggling to get enough outings during stints with Houston and Cleveland. He also pitched in the American Association (Wichita) although his pro career started in another Indy circuit, the North American League.
The third reliever in the postseason who got his very first professional opportunity in a non-major league-affiliated league is looking like he could become the best of the group. Right-hander Nick Anderson is being called on whenever the Tampa Bay Rays face their toughest challenges regardless of the inning. Such was the case in Tuesday's second game against the Yankees when the Rays virtually had to win.
Anderson entered the game with the tying run at the plate in the top of the seventh and promptly struck out Gary Sanchez, DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge. He also pitched a 1-2-3 eighth in the 7-4 victory.
He was a Frontier League find, pitching for the road-only Frontier Greys as well as Rockford, IL.
Umpire, Broadcaster Also Step Up
The Independent Leagues have contributed others to the postseason including umpire Will Little and TV broadcaster Adam Amin. The latter, who gets important play-by-play roles regularly in both football and basketball for ESPN, spent years learning his trade with the Somerset (NJ) Patriots of the Atlantic League. He called Game 1 between Atlanta and Miami.
Friday, September 25, 2020
This is truly a moving target because several teams are on the edge toward earning major league baseball postseason berths and roster changes are still being made daily. But as of late Friday, IndyBaseballChatteris tabbing nine former Independent Baseball players as likely eligibles for next week's first round of the 16-team playoffs. Here are those most likely participants by team with the Independent connections in parenthesis:
ATLANTA--RHP Chris Martin (Grand Prairie, American Association) and LHP Tyler Matzek (Texas, American Association). Note: Matzek was in the American Association last season.
MIAMI--RHPs Brandon Kintzler (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, when it was in the Northern League) and James Hoyt (Yuma and Edinburg, North American League, and Wichita, American Association. RHP Brett Eibner was designated for assignment earlier this week.
MINNESOTA--LHP Rich Hill (Long Island, Atlantic League) and Caleb Thielbar (St. Paul). RHP Randy Dobnak (Utica, United Shore League) has been a starter most of the season, but currently is in the alternate training site.
TAMPA BAY--RHP Nick Anderson (Frontier Greys and Rockford, Frontier League). RHP Trevor Richards (Gateway, Frontier League) has been shuttling between the Rays and their alternate training site, where he is at present. RHP Chaz Roe is on the disabled list.
CHICAGO-NL--1B Jose Martinez (Rockford). INF Ildemaro Vargas is on the injured list, but could return.
TORONTO--RHP Tanner Roark (Southern Illinois, Frontier League). RHP Wilmer Font was designated for assignment earlier this week.
Other Possibilities--RHP Chase DeLong (Sugar Land, Atlantic League, and Team Skeeters, Constellation Energy League, was returned to Houston's alternate training site recently. If Milwaukee slips into the playoffs, it should bring RHPs Eric Yardley (Trinidad and Taos, Pecos League) and Justin Topa (Rockland, Can-Am League) into action.
The Chicago White Sox designated LHP Ross Detwiler for assignment this week after being with the team all season. Another lefty, James Paxton, is on the New York Yankees' 60-day injured list.
Anderson, Hoyt, Martin, Paxton, Roark, Richards and Yardley all started their professional career in Indy leagues.
Among the nine most likely postseason eligibles five played in the American Association and three in the Frontier League.
Monday, August 17, 2020
Pitchers almost always seem to dominate when discussing the former Independent Baseball players who have made it to the major leagues. That could easily be the case today, too, but the hurlers must step aside for moment because the newest player to reach baseball's pinnacle is a hitter.
The new man in the spotlight--the 266th on the distinguished list maintained by IndyBaseballChatter--is St. Louis Cardinals first baseman John Nogowski. The 27-year-old, a combo who throws left but hits right-handed and debuted with a 1-for-4 game in the Cards' 7-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox Sunday, dominated the American Association (Sioux City) in May and June of 2017 to get St. Louis's attention. He hit .402 and had a .482 on-base percentage in 34 games for the Explorers, driving in 28 runs in that span.
Nogowski, who played in college at Florida State, hit .295 in Double-A the rest of '17 season, .309 one year later and .295 for Triple-A Memphis one year ago.
In the meantime, Indy grads have been posting some very imposing numbers on the mound in the majors. Randy Dobnak broke into the pro ranks in the United Shore League (Utica), and he has won four of five decisions for Minnesota with a 1.42 earned run average for his first five starts of the season. Among relievers, Ross Detwiler (York, Atlantic League) has not allowed an earned run in 11.1 innings for the Chicago White Sox (1-0, only 4 hits), the Pecos League's Eric Yardley (Trinidad and Taos) has a win and a 0.96 ERA in 9.1 innings for Milwaukee and Tyler Matzek (Texas, American Association) has won 2 of 3 decisions for Atlanta and had not given up any runs in spring training or the regular season until the New York Yankees got him for two tallies last week. His ERA is 1.64.
Detwiler and Matzek were in their Independent leagues for part of the last two seasons.
Three pitchers were promoted back to the majors in recent days. Chris Mazza (Southern Maryland, Atlantic League) started for Boston Sunday night at Yankee Stadium, Brian Moran (Bridgeport, Atlantic) is with Miami and Trevor Richards (Gateway, Frontier League) is with Tampa Bay.
Summer League Signees
The newly-created leagues that are filling gaps during this COVID-19 time period while some of the regular Independent leagues are not operating are producing new opportunities with major league organizations.
The most recent of at least five players who have gotten fresh opportunities is former major league hurler Dietrich Enns. Tampa Bay inked Enns Sunday and sent him directly to the Rays' alternate training team, from which he could be promoted to the American League team.
Emms had gone 2-0 with a 0.72 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 25 innings while doubling as pitching coach for the Tully Monster team managed by onetime major leaguer Scott Spiezio in the City of Champions Cup organized by the Frontier League's Joliet (IL) Slammers.
For more baseball chatter take a look at https://sportsdomainlab.com or the site's Twitter or Facebook pages of the same name.
Tuesday, August 04, 2020
Tuesday, July 28, 2020
One of the additions to active duty was an oversight in our Opening Day report in that we overlooked veteran utilityman Emilio Bonifacio, who is with the 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals. The 35-year-old Bonifacio, who plays both the infield and outfield, is a longtime major leaguer although he played 70 games with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League two years ago. The switch-hitter was leading the Atlantic League when his contract was sold to Milwaukee, hitting a robust .348 with 95 hits and 34 runs batted in.
Toronto has added its third pitcher with Indy experience, activating right-hander Wilmer Font (Ottawa, Can-Am League) off the 10-day injured list.
The count of Independent players in the Alternate Training Camps is up to 18 with Boston adding hurler Robert Stock (New Jersey, Can-Am League, and Normal, Frontier League) after he was designated for assignment by Philadelphia. He is on the Red Sox's 40-man roster.
Oakland added righty Ben Bracewell (River City, Frontier), southpaw Fernando Abad (Long Island) is now in the New York Yankees second tier camp after being released by Washington and veteran free agent outfielder Travis Snider (another former Long Island player) signed with Miami and was invited to the Marlins' camp. Snider was a non-roster invitee with Arizona during spring training.
Bracewell deserves special credit in that he broke into the professional game with River City in '14, the same season he finished a two-year stint at Mississippi State. The 29-year-old native of Alabama made four starts (1-0, 7.56) with the Rascals before joining the Oakland farm system where he has been ever since. At 6-foot, Bracewell spent most of last season at Triple-A Las Vegas, posting a 3.13 ERA (1-3 record, two saves) in the often offensive-minded Pacific Coast League. All but one of his 41 appearances were in relief and he struck out 70 PCL hitters in 72 innings. He was a non-roster invitee to the Athletics' major league spring training camp.
Congratulations to the Atlantic League
It was announced today (Tuesday) that Gastonia, NC, which previously had an affiliated minor league team, will become part of the Atlantic League next season when the city opens a new 5,000-seat stadium. The league already has another North Carolina-based team (High Point).
Friday, July 24, 2020
Matzek, who pitched for the Texas AirHogs for significant time each of the last two years in his quest to overcome wildness and other issues and return to the majors for the first time since the '15 season, backed up his terrific spring training during Summer Camp to earn a spot on the Atlanta Braves' 30-man Opening Day roster.
Matzek was one of five onetime Indy players who began the re-start of training without a spot on the coveted 40-man roster who is on an active major league roster for the official start to the 2020 season. The others making the grade are pitchers Ross Detwiler with the Chicago White Sox, Brian Moran with Toronto, Pittsburgh's Nik Turley and catcher Rene Rivera with the New York Mets. All four of the hurlers throws left-handed and the entire group has at least a little major league experience.
Another 17 Indy grads also are on active rosters while right-handers John Brebbia of St. Louis and Wilmer Font of Toronto are on the injured list. An additional 15 players with non-affiliated experience, including injured hurler Parker Markel of the Los Angeles Angels, remain on the alternate list and could get promoted as needed.
The complete list of 22 players active in the majors with their current affiliation and their Independent teams and leagues follows:
PITCHERS (18): *Nick Anderson, Tampa Bay (Rockford and Frontier Grays, Frontier League); Ross Detwiler, Chicago-AL (York, Atlantic League); *Randy Dobnak, Minnesota (Utica, United Shore League); *Zac Grotz, Seattle (Bridgeport and York, Atlantic League, and Washington, Frontier); Junior Guerra, Arizona (Wichita, American Association); Rich Hill, Minnesota (Long Island, Atlantic); Brandon Kintzler, Miami (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, then in Northern League); *Chris Martin, Atlanta (Grand Prairie, American Association); Tyler Matzek, Atlanta (Texas, American Association); Brian Moran, Toronto (Bridgeport); *James Paxton, New York-AL (Grand Prairie); Trevor Richards, Tampa Bay (Gateway, Frontier); *Tanner Roark, Toronto (Southern Illinois, Frontier); Chaz Roe, Tampa Bay (Laredo, American Association); *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth, American Association); Nik Turley, Pittsburgh (Somerset, Atlantic); Marcus Walden, Boston (Lancaster, Atlantic); Eric Yardley, Milwaukee (Trinidad and Taos, Pecos League).
POSITION PLAYERS (4): 1B-OF Jose Martinez, Tampa Bay (Rockford); OF David Peralta, Arizona (Amarillo and Wichita, American Association, and, Rio Grande Valley, North American League); C Rene Rivera, New York-NL (Camden, Atlantic); INF Ildemaro Vargas, Arizona (Bridgeport).
*First professional game was in an Independent league
Yermin Mercedes did not make the Chicago White Sox Opening Day roster, but the rookie catcher, who matured largely while in the Pecos (Douglas and White Sands) and United Leagues (San Angelo), seems to have the respect of General Manager Rick Hahn, who told MLB.com "the debate (between Zack Collins or Mercedes for the third catcher on the team) was we were probably going to be fine either way, but in the end, we felt Zack's left-handed bat and a little bit more experience and familiarity with the arms in the big leagues gave him the advantage. If in the end, for whatever reason, we had to get Yermin active on the big league level, we feel real good with where he's at right now. Certainly, an impressive bat."
Veteran southpaw Caleb Thielbar (St. Paul) seems to have barely missed his first major league opportunity since 2015. Minnesota lists the 33-year-old as one of two pitchers on their "taxi squad".
Not Such Good News
Philadelphia has designated for assignment righty Robert Stock (New Jersey, Can-Am, and Normal, Frontier). He entered camp on the Phils' 40-man roster. Baltimore released southpaw Hunter Cervenka (Sugar Land, Atlantic). He had been in camp as a non-roster invitee in February.
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Durable Rene Rivera appears to have become the first player who did not start Summer Camp on a 40-man roster to earn an Opening Day job. The well-traveled catcher was awarded a 40-man slot with the New York Mets, somewhat of an early birthday present for Rivera, who turns 37 July 31.
Rivera is in his second stint with the Mets ('16-'17), and has played for eight other major league teams during his professional career which started back in 2001. He played 22 games for Camden, NJ in the Atlantic League a decade ago (7-19-.280) before returning to a major league organization. A backup with strong defensive credentials for most of his career, Rivera has a lifetime major league average of .221 with 41 home runs in his 515 appearances.
Lefty Fernando Abad (Long Island, Atlantic League) has not been so fortunate, being released by reigning World Series champion Washington. Three other pitchers are on the Injured List, St. Louis veteran John Brebbia (Sioux Falls and Laredo, American Association), Toronto's Wilmer Font (Ottawa, Can-Am League) and the Los Angeles Angels' Parker Markel (Sioux City, American Association).
Nunn Loses Job
Southpaw Chris Nunn, who was a spring training non-roster invitee with Atlanta in February, has been released by the Braves. He had pitched for St. Paul (American Association) and Evansville (Frontier League). The 29-year-old has topped out at Triple-A so far.
Friday, July 10, 2020
deSanMiguel, a 5-foot-9 right-handed hitter, has been playing professionally since 2005 but has yet to play in the major leagues. The Australian native turned 32 in February.
Veteran right-hander Chris Smith, who got to the majors after starting his pro career in a non-affiliated league, and lefty Casey Crosby, who was in Triple-A with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, were among several more onetime Independent players handed their releases recently. Smith, let go by Detroit, pitched in the Frontier League for Lake Erie, Traverse City and Washington and also was at White Sands of the Pecos League. Crosby's Indy time was spent with Lincoln and Chicago in the American Association and Lancaster in the Atlantic League. He has returned to Butch Hobson's Chicago Dogs.
Veteran outfielder Blake Gailen was released by the Dodgers. He played for both Lincoln and Wichita in the American Association, Lancaster, Chico in the Golden League and Anderson in the South Coast League. Former Lincoln hurler Ricky Knapp also was released by the Dodgers while another righty, Garrett Mundell, was dropped by Milwaukee. He had pitched at Trois-Rivieres of the Can-Am League.
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
This total still could climb a bit since some of the 30 teams are well short of the 60-man roster limit at this point.
IndyBaseballChatter.com has identified the full list of players who will be on the 30-man active rosters or on the so-called "taxi" squad when play begins late in July. The players with their major league affiliation and their former Independent teams:
Pitchers (30)--#Fernando Abad, Washington (Long Island, Atlantic League); #Tim Adleman, Detroit (Lincoln and El Paso, American Association; New Jersey, Can-Am League; Long Island); *Nick Anderson, Tampa Bay (Frontier Greys and Rockford, Frontier League); #David Carpenter, Cincinnati (Bridgeport, Atlantic); #Ross Detwiler, Chicago-AL (York, Atlantic); *Randy Dobnak, Minnesota (Utica, United Shore League); Wilmer Font, Toronto (Ottawa, Can-Am); #Luis Garcia, Texas (Newark, Can-Am); 4*Zac Grotz, Seattle (Bridgeport and York plus Washington, Frontier); Junior Guerra, Arizona (Wichita, American Association); Rich Hill, Minnesota (Long Island); *James Hoyt, Cleveland (Wichita plus Yuma and Edinburg, North American League); Brandon Kintzler, Miami (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, Northern League); #Parker Markel, Los Angeles-AL (Sioux City, American Association); #Tyler Matzek, Atlanta (Texas, American Association); *Chris Martin, Atlanta (Grand Prairie, American Association); 4Chris Mazza, Boston (Southern Maryland, Atlantic, and San Rafael, Pacific Association); #Brian Moran, Toronto (Bridgeport); *James Paxton, New York-AL (Grand Prairie); #Alex Powers, Cincinnati (New Jersey); 4Trevor Richards, Tampa Bay (Gateway, Frontier); *Tanner Roark, Toronto (Southern Illinois, Frontier); Chaz Roe, Tampa Bay (Laredo, American Association); *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth, American Association); #D. J. Snelten, Tampa Bay (Chicago, American Association); Robert Stock, Philadelphia (New Jersey plus Normal, Frontier); #Caleb Thielbar, Minnesota (St. Paul); #Nik Turley, Pittsburgh (Somerset, Atlantic); Marcus Walden, Boston (Lancaster, Atlantic); 4Eric Yardley, Milwaukee (Trinidad and Taos, Pecos League).
Catchers (3)--4Mercedes Yermin, Chicago-AL (Douglas and White Sands, Pecos, and San Angelo (United League); #Rene Rivera, New York-NL (Camden, Atlantic); #Josh Thole, New York-AL (New Britain, Atlantic).
Infielders (4)--Jose Martinez (also OF), Tampa Bay (Rockford); #John Nogowski, St. Louis (Sioux City); #Brandon Snyder, Washington (Southern Maryland); Ildemaro Vargas, Arizona (Bridgeport).
Outfielder (1)--David Peralta, Arizona (Wichita and Amarillo, American Association, and Rio Grande Valley, North American).
*First professional game was in an Independent league
4Is on 40-man major league roster but had been optioned to minor leagues
#Invited to training camp
Veteran St. Louis reliever John Brebbia (Sioux Falls and Laredo, American Association) will not be playing because he is on the 60-day injured list.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
LISTEN UP. Independent Baseball is stepping up to give the sport some game action, even though it may never reach nationwide TV screens or newspapers.
Let us all give a great big round of applause to the American Association and the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League.
Within the last week, Sugar Land has announced plans for a four-team league and six American Association teams (half of the regular league) have agreed to play. The window will be short, starting in early July and running into September, but the players who take part will be able to shake off the rust of idleness and fans will be able to get a dose of what is expected every season even if most of it will come from websites or localized media coverage unless they happen to live in the vicinity of four specific stadiums.
Here are some details:
The American Association will play a 60-game schedule from three of its ballparks with two teams based at each site (unless states open up more opportunities). The "regular" season will run from July 3-September 10 with playoffs to follow. The hosts will be Sioux Falls, SD, Fargo, ND and Milwaukee, WI, with St. Paul also playing out of Sioux Falls, Winnipeg out of Fargo and the Chicago Dogs out of Milwaukee.
At Sugar Land, a Houston suburb, four teams made up what is described as "an assortment of professional players", including some with major league experience, will play 28 games apiece from July 3-August 23.
Former major league pitching star Roger Clemens and his son Koby will run one of the teams with former slugging star Pate Incaviglia another. Incaviglia is the Skeeters' regular field boss.
Open tryouts for the Sugar Land event will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 24, at Constellation Field. A registration form and waiver can be found at sugarlandskeeters.com/tryouts with a $100 fee. The deadline is June 23 with no walk-up registrations the day of the event.
Certain numbers of fans will be in attendance at all four locations although capacity will depend largely on what is allowed in a given state.
So place a great big star on your calendar for July 3 when Independent Baseball, which allows opportunity but limited salaries, opens its doors even though major leaguers almost certainly will not be playing. The MLB variety of baseball still may be arguing how to split up their much larger pie.
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
The best bet among possible additions could be left-handed hurler Tyler Matzek, who was outstanding with the Atlanta Braves during spring training although officially working out of the minor league camp. Matzek, who has major league experience, played for Texas in the American Association last season.
Others who could be considered include pitchers Jason Creasy of Atlanta (formerly played for Southern Maryland and Long Island in the Atlantic League and St. Paul in the American Association), Trevor Richards of Tampa Bay (Gateway, Frontier League), Casey Crosby of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Chicago and Lincoln, American Association, and Lancaster, Atlantic), Parker Markel of the Los Angeles Angels (Sioux City, American Association), Kevin McCanna of Arizona (Sioux City), Tim Adleman of Detroit (Long Island, Lincoln and El Paso, American Association; New Jersey, Can Am League), Luis Garcia of Texas (Newark, Can Am) and Aaron Wilkerson of Milwaukee (Grand Prairie, American Association; Florence, Frontier; Fort Worth, United League).
Position players in a similar situation include first baseman John Nogowski of St. Louis (Sioux City, infielder Ryan Court of Oakland (Sioux City and Sugar Land, Atlantic) and catchers Yermin Mercedes of the Chicago White Sox (Douglas and White Sands, Pecos League, and San Angelo, United) and Rene Rivera of the New York Mets (Camden, Atlantic).
40 Former Indy Players Released
Chris Mazza is one lucky guy even though he had been optioned to Triple-A by the Boston Red Sox prior to the stoppage of baseball in mid-March.
The 30-year-old right-handed pitcher actually signed a new contract with the Red Sox recently while so many other players who have spent time in Independent league play in recent years have been released by their major league organization, as minor league rosters are trimmed down--way down, truthfully--since the farm clubs are not likely to play this season.
IndyBaseballChatter.com has identified 40 former Independent players who have been released with more almost certainly to follow since eight of the major league organizations have not been accounted for as yet.
Mazza, who finally debuted in the majors with the New York Mets last season after toiling in four other organizations, was in the Miami and Seattle organizations two years ago in addition to playing with Southern Maryland in the Atlantic League and San Rafael in the Pacific Association. He made nine relief appearances in the majors (1-1, 5.51) last season, and was in three Red Sox exhibitions this spring, allowing seven runs in 4.2 innings of work.
Four of the players released were non-roster invitees to major league spring training camps this spring. That group includes pitchers Trey McNutt, Tim Melville and Nick Rumbelow and former major league outfielder Travis Snider.
Another player who was let go was first baseman Keon Barnum, the American Association's player of the year as well as Baseball America's choice as Independent player of the year.
The entire list of players released:
Pitchers (25)--Ryan Atkinson, Geoff Bramblett, Adam Choplick, Jose Cuas, Alex Demchak, Chris Dula, Kevin Folman, Logan Gillaspie, Noah Gotsis, Johnny Hellweg, Kent Hasler, Danny Hrbek, Micah Kaczor, Brandon Lawson, #Trey McNutt, #@Tim Melville, Ryan Newell, Kyle Olliges, Kyle Regnault, Dylan Rheault, Orlando Rodriguez, #Nick Rumbelow, Dylan Thompson, Michael Tonkin, Frank Valentino.
Catchers (2)--Lucas Herbert, Michael Hernandez.
Infielders (8)--1B Keon Barnum, 2B Ryne Birk, 1B Skyler Ewing, Martin Figueroa, 1B Conrad Gregor, Angelo Mora, 3B Tyler Plantier, 3B T. J. Rivera.
Outfielders (5)--Edgar Corcino, Keith Curcio, Dondrei Hubbard, Max Murphy, #Travis Snider.
#Was a non-roster invitee to a major league spring training camp earlier this year.
Saturday, April 04, 2020
These strange times in everyday life and obviously in the derailed baseball season make it next to impossible to figure out where certain players would be playing if not for the coronavirus.
It is known that none of the former Independent players who were in major league spring training camps when they were abruptly shut down for an indefinite time had been added to 40-man rosters, a move, currently forbidden, that almost certainly would have meant they had locked up a spot on 26-man Opening Day rosters.
At the same time, there had not been any major surprises where players who would have been expected to be in the major leagues had been sent back to the minor leagues. Tampa Bay had optioned Trevor Richards, who started his pro career with the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League, to Triple-A Durham, but the right-hander had only won six of 18 decisions last season when he started 23 major league games in his 30 appearances and had a 4.06 earned run average.
The most promising showings in major league camps that looked like possible opportunities at some point in the season had come from a pair of left-handed pitchers on the comeback trail after not being in the big leagues for a number of years.
This pair, who certainly bear watching whenever baseball gets the green light to re-open camps, are Tyler Matzek with Atlanta and Casey Crosby of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The fascinating thing is both pitched in the American Association last season, Matzek with the Texas AirHogs and Crosby with the Chicago Dogs. Crosby, who started three games for Detroit when he was only 23 back in 2012, also spent time with Lincoln in '17 when he was just starting a comeback after three arm surgeries that led to nearly three seasons of inactivity from the mound.
Matzek got his MLB experience with Colorado in '14 and '15, winning eight of 20 decisions, almost entirely in starting roles. He has faced both wildness and mental demons since, but spent considerable time with the AirHogs each of the last two years. He worked out of the bullpen exclusively last summer, registering a 2.64 ERA and striking out 53 batters in a mere 30.2 innings. He continued to dazzle with the Braves in spring training when he was actually assigned to the minor league camp. The parent club gave him three looks and seven of his 11 outs came on strikeouts while he only allowed one hit (no walks).
The hurdle for both pitchers will be for their organizations to find room on their 40-man rosters, not exactly an easy chore at this point.
Non-roster veterans who could get another major league opportunity once the freeze on roster movement is lifted include reliever Luis Garcia (Newark, Can-Am League) with Texas and catcher Rene Rivera (Camden, Atlantic League) with the New York Mets.
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Fifty-one players who have started their career in a non-affiliated league or have gone there for a second chance have invitations to one of the 30 major league camps, according to records compiled exclusively by www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and, if history repeats, that number may even climb a little more as teams make last minute decisions.
The count is exactly the same as one year ago, with pitchers once more dominating in that they have 41 of the slots. Three catchers, four infielders and three outfielders complete the list.
Twenty-three of the players are on 40-man rosters while the others have non-roster invitations.
The American Association can claim 20 of the 51 spots with the Atlantic League next with 18, followed by the Frontier League with nine and the former Can-Am League (it is now part of the Frontier) accounting for seven. Some players have been in more than one of the Indy circuits. Ten leagues are represented in all, including three that no longer are active.
While the list includes established major leaguers such as Washington ace Max Scherzer, Toronto starter Tanner Roark and Arizona hitting star David Peralta, decisions to be made between now and Opening Day (March 26) include whether Randy Dobnak can nail down a starting mound role with Minnesota, will first baseman John Nogowski (St. Louis) and lefty Mike Kickham (Boston) prove themselves ready and whether Tampa Bay will end up with four Indy leaguers among its 26-man active roster.
The entire list of players with Independent Baseball playing experience who are due in major league spring training camps, including the team and the Indy leagues and teams where they played:
Friday, February 07, 2020
Presuming this spring training will follow recent years at least a handful of the invitees will make the decisions more difficult as the American and National League teams pare down to the 26-man limit by Opening Day on March 26.
The Independent Baseball Insider's exclusive compilation of former players from Independent leagues owning major league invitations is up to 24. Recent additions, including both the team and the Indy stops, are:
PITCHERS--Hunter Cervenka, Baltimore (Sugar Land, Atlantic League); Ross Detwiler, Chicago-AL (York, Atlantic); Tim Melville, Colorado (Long Island, Atlantic); Alex Powers, Cincinnati (New Jersey, Can-Am League); Caleb Thielbar, Minnesota (St. Paul, American Association).
POSITION PLAYERS--SS Peter Mooney, Minnesota (New Jersey); 1B John Nogowski, St. Louis (Sioux City, American Association); C Josh Thole, New York-AL (New Britain, Atlantic).
Melville bears watching closely since the right-hander finished last season in the Rockies' rotation after starting the year with the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League.
We will have a complete rundown of all players from the Independent leagues who will be in major league camps when spring training begins next week. Which league will have the most representation? Stay tuned.
Get the independent minor league baseball trivia question of the day by clicking this link: Independent Minor League Baseball Trivia Questions
Friday, January 24, 2020
--One cannot help but wonder how many Indy players may be on Tampa Bay's 26-man Opening Day roster. There is newly-acquired outfielder Jose Martinez (Rockford, Frontier League) to be certain, and it would be an upset if this trio of pitchers were not active: Nick Anderson (also Rockford and the Frontier Greys), Trevor Richards (Gateway, Frontier) and Chaz Roe (Laredo, American Association. Now the Rays have added lefty D. J. Snelten (Chicago, American Association) and his power arm as a non-roster invitee. Snelten was with Butch Hobson's team just last season.
--Other non-roster players announced so far include hurlers Phillippe Aumont, Toronto (Ottawa, Can-Am League); Ben Bracewell, Oakland (River City, Frontier); Tim Dillard, Texas (Lancaster,Atlantic League); Luis Garcia, Texas (Newark, Can-Am); Mike Kickham, Boston (Kansas City, American Association); Trey McNutt, San Francisco (Fargo-Moorhead, American Association); Chris Nunn, Atlanta (St. Paul, American Association, and Evansville, Frontier); David Carpenter, Cincinnati (Bridgeport, Atlantic); Tim Adleman, Detroit (Long Island, Atlantic; Lincoln and El Paso, American Association; New Jersey, Can-Am); Fernando Abad, Washington (Long Island); Nic Turley, Pittsburgh (Somerset, Atlantic); catcher Rene Rivera, New York-NL (Camden, Atlantic); and outfielders Dillon Thomas, Oakland (Texas, American Association) and Travis Snider, Arizona (Long Island). These 15 plus 25 players on 40-man rosters (presuming Brandon Kintzler will sign soon) give the Indy leagues 40 players, and that number seems certain to grow when more teams unveil their non-roster guys.
--Several Indy favorites have signed new minor league contacts and while they are not (yet) listed as non-roster invitees some of them will be on the list of players brought over from minor league camps for one or more major league exhibitions: This group includes pitchers Justin DeFratus, Los Angeles-NL (Southern Maryland, Atlantic); Alex Powers, Cincinnati (New Jersey); Hunter Cervenka, Baltimore (Sugar Land, Atlantic) and Ross Detwiler, Chicago-AL (York, Atlantic); utilityman Conrad Gregor, Tampa Bay (New Jersey and Rockland, Can-Am, and Lancaster); and infielders T. J. Rivera, Philadelphia (Long Island) and Cody Asche, Minnesota (Sugar Land).
--Several former Indy managers, coaches and players have gotten non-playing major league or affiliated minor league opportunities although they have not all been announced. One of the more significant is Antoan Richardson, who played for Schaumburg when it was in the Northern League. He has jumped to a major league coaching role with San Francisco. It was Richardson who scored the winning run on new Hall of Famer Derek Jeter's last game at Yankee Stadium. Onetime major league pitcher Dylan Axelrod (Windy City, Frontier) has joined the Los Angeles Angels as pitching coordinator.
Watch this space for the full list of Independent players expected in major league spring training camps in the days ahead.
How About This Contract?
Any time an Indy leaguer gets some type of major league opportunity it is automatic that his paycheck will have more zeroes on it. Even so, the $22 million Tanner Roark will receive
in his two-year pact with Toronto has to get the attention of everyone in a non-affiliated league. He started out in the Frontier League (Southern Illinois) for three appearances back in 2008.