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.
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