Thursday, December 10, 2020


While so much still is to be determined before the (presumed) 2021 Independent Baseball season unfolds, two right-handed pitchers who started their professional career in the Frontier League and a third who also played in that circuit have new major league organizations to look forward to joining in the year ahead as the result of being selected in Thursday's Rule 5 draft.

Matt Wivinis, who started at Evansville in the Frontier League, was the second of 56 players whose name was called in the Triple-A phase of the draft, which was held in virtual fashion since the annual Winter Meetings were not held in the normal way because of COVID-19.

Wivinis moves from the New York Yankees farm system to that of Tampa Bay for the Triple-A price of $24,000.

Boston selected Kaleb Ort, who started at Joliet, also from the Yankees.  The third onetime Independent player who changed uniforms is Jordan Brink, who went from St. Louis to Tampa Bay.  He had pitched for both River City and Southern Illinois in the Frontier League as well as with Pittsburg of the Pacific Association.

It would have cost $100,000 for any team to select a former Indy player in the major league portion of the draft.

New Contracts for Several

The shrinking of the major league-affiliated minors has taken its toll on any number of players, including quite a few former Independent league guys, in recent months, but some of those who have escaped the pink slip have actually been rewarded with new contracts.

This group includes the following, with their affiliation and their previous Indy locations:  Pitchers Kevin McCanna of Arizona (Sioux City, American Association, and Lightning, Constellation Energy League); Mickey Jannis, Baltimore (Long Island, Southern Maryland and Bridgeport, Atlantic League, and Lake Erie, Frontier); Nick Duron, Seattle (Southern Illinois, Frontier); Ian McKinney, Seattle (Sioux City); Jayson McKinney, Seattle (Southern Maryland and Lightning); and third baseman Brandon Snyder, Washington (Southern Maryland).

Right-hander Jason Creasy came off the free agent list by re-signing with Atlanta.  He has pitched for Long Island and Southern Maryland along with St. Paul of the American Association.

Players released in recent weeks have included former major league hurlers Aaron Wilkerson of Milwaukee (Grand Prairie, American Association; Florence, Frontier; and Fort Worth, United League) and Parker Markel of San Diego (Sioux City).  Righty Ben Bracewell, who like Wilkerson had started pitching professionally in an Independent circuit and was a non-roster invitee with Oakland last spring training, was released by the Athletics.  His first pro play was with River City in the Frontier League.