Tuesday, October 26, 2021


This has been an incredible year for Independent Baseball in that a record number of players--record by far, we should say--have had the distinction of wearing major league uniforms.

The jubilation continues right into the World Series with two of these bright lights as key members of the Atlanta Braves bullpen.  Lefty Tyler Matzek has been brilliant, and 6-foot-8 right-hander Chris Martin brings a separate distinction for the Indy crowd in that he played his very first professional games in a non-affiliated league, an accomplishment matched by only 56 others since this brand of baseball emerged in 1993.

The American Association can take a separate bow in that this was the league where both pitchers got their Independent training.  Martin was with the Grand Prairie AirHogs in 2010 and Matzek toiled for the Texas AirHogs--yes, same nickname but separate organization-- for all of 2018 and most of the next season trying to regain his control and confidence after flaming out as a member of the Colorado Rockies when he walked 19 hitters in 22 innings in 2015.

Matzek, who turned 31 one week ago, spent the final couple of weeks in the Atlanta farm system after the Braves purchased his contract late in the '19 season and has been a new pitcher for the National League champions the last two years.

He was nothing short of brilliant in the National League Championship Series, capped by striking out the side of Los Angeles Dodgers in the deciding Game 6.  He entered the game with runners at second and third and no one out with Atlanta leading 4-2 in the top of the seventh innings and whiffed future first ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols followed by Steven Souza Jr. and onetime American League MVP Mookie Betts.

Matzek struck out Corey Seager, then got two grounders in the eighth, needing only 17 pitches (15 strikes) to record the six critical outs.  He worked in nine postseason games leading into the World Series with 17 strikeouts in 10.1 innings, following an equally impressive regular season.

Martin, now 35, had to overcome injuries to be activated during the NLCS.  He was 4-0, 1.96 as a 24-year-old when he started at Grand Prairie, then spent three seasons in the Boston farm system before first reaching the majors with Colorado in 2014.  He also pitched for the New York Yankees and Texas before joining the Braves for the last two months of '19.

Major League Count Reached 58

The final count, as researched by IndyBaseballChatter.com, of onetime Independent players who played in the major leagues during 2021 was a whopping 58, 13 more than the previous record set in 2016 and tied one year later.

Six of the 58 were on postseason rosters, including pitchers Max Scherzer (Fort Worth, American Association) with the Dodgers, David Robertson of Tampa Bay (High Point, Atlantic League), Jake Cousins of Milwaukee (Schaumburg, Frontier League, and Chicago, American Association) and Luis Garcia of St. Louis (Newark, Can-Am League). 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021


 The 2021 season is going down in history with regard to the involvement of players who have played in at least one Independent league during their career and have later earned major league time.  

In both 2016 and 2017 an all-time high 45 Indy players appeared with one of the 30 major league teams.  The total was obliterated--destroyed or wiped out also would work--in the season ending this week.  In records compiled exclusively by IndyBaseballChatter.com, a whopping 54 players made it to the majors.

Some of them will be in the post-season starting next week.

The count jumped somewhat this year because a strange sequence of events during COVID-19-infested 2020 when some one-time-only Independent leagues sprung to life.  Otherwise, the depth of talent in Independent circuits today and the current MLB mindset of constantly shuffling of roster spots between the majors and handy Triple-A teams both contributed to the growth.

Regardless of the reasons, for 54 players from non-affiliated leagues to play in the major leagues in one summer shows just how far the Indy circuits have come from their early days in the 1990s when the leagues were often put down or made fun of by those in baseball's top tier operations.

Thirteen of the 54 made their major league debut this season, with pitchers Tommy Nance of the Chicago Cubs and Kaleb Ort of the Boston Red Sox perhaps the most prized duo since their first professional games were in Independent leagues.  Both emerged from the Frontier League.  Nance played at Windy City, not far from Wrigley Field, and gave up only two hits and no runs in his first 12 big league appearances covering 11.1 innings.  It has not been as easy of late and Nance has a 1-0 record and a 7.07 earned run average heading into the final week.  Ort, also starting near Chicago at Joliet, got only a brief look for the contending Red Sox.

Thirty-five onetime Indy players were on major league rosters as of September 28 although 10 of them were on the injured list.  This includes veteran first baseman-outfielder Jose Martinez who has been on the New York Mets' IL the entire season, which kept him from increasing the season's active count to 55.     


Wednesday, July 21, 2021


Travel anywhere that baseball is played at a high level, and the Independent leagues will be represented.

This includes the resumption of the sport in the Japan Olympics starting this week.  Our list most likely is incomplete, yet 11 Indy vets, some from this season, have been identified on Olympic rosters.  Israel and the Dominican Republic have the heaviest representation.  The United States and Mexico also have former Independent players.  Japan and Korean rosters have not been reviewed.

Israel has three infielders and an outfielder who played in non-affiliated leagues this season.  The outfielder is Blake Gailen, who started his extensive minor league career at Anderson in the South Coast League in 2007.  He was in 47 games for Lancaster of the Atlantic League this season (.273-9-47) before joining his Olympic teammates.  Gailen hit a robust .406 in 69 American Association games (Lincoln) in 2011 after also being at Chico of the former Golden League the two previous years.  He is well known in Lancaster, also playing there at least part of every season from '12-'18.

Israel's infielders include Mitch Glasser of Sioux Falls, who hit .345 while playing five different positions in 39 games in the American Association this campaign; Zach Penprase (.254-1-15, 14 stolen bases in 21 contests for New York of the Frontier League and major league veteran Danny Valencia, who went 3-for-18 in six games for Long Island of the Atlantic League.  Glasser's other Indy stops have included Joplin '15-'16, Cleburne '17, Gary '18, Sioux Falls '18-'19 all in the American Association and Joliet of the City of Champions Cup one year ago.  Penprase was a fixture at Fargo-Moorhead of the American Association for eight years ('08-'15).  Israel's Jeremy Bleich pitched in the Atlantic League (Somerset) in both '16 and '17.

The Dominican team includes catcher Charlie Valerio, who hit .263 in 11 games at Sioux Falls this season.  A career minor leaguer, Valerio also played at Fargo-Moorhead from '15-'18 and at Southern Maryland of the Atlantic League two years ago.  Infielder-outfielder Emilio Bonifacio, a longtime major leaguer, hit .348 in 70 games at Long Island in '18.  Southpaw Raul Valdes, now 43, won nine of 13 decisions combined between Nashua and New Jersey of the Can-Am League back in 2006. 

Mexico is represented by outfielder Jonathan Jones, who played in the American Association (Gary) in 2015 and the Atlantic League (New Britain) one year later.

The United States players with Independent time are veteran major league pitchers Scott Kazmir and David Robertson.  Kazmir, who was in three games with San Francisco this year, was at Sugar Land (Atlantic League) in '12 and spent some time with Eastern of the Constellation Energy League last season.

Newest Major Leaguers

Lefty Zac Rosscup, who was with the Lighning of the CEL for a time last season, is the newest name among Indy players to don a major league uniform.  He is with Colorado.

Outfielder Dillon Thomas (Texas, American Association) is enjoying a second stint of his rookie major league career with Seattle while hurlers Chris Mazza (Southern Maryland and San Rafael, Pacific Association) and Robert Stock (New Jersey, Can-Am, and Normal, Frontier League) are back up with Tampa Bay and the New York Mets, respectively.


Friday, July 09, 2021

Seven make majors after indy time, led by Cubs' Tommy Nance

Major league roster changes are made at such a furious pace these days if one blinks someone else is in the news.

One thing is certain, especially in these times when the big-league guys have trimmed their farm systems:  The majors need the Independent Leagues more than ever as proven by the fact more than 100 players have been purchased--many at escalated prices--already in 2021.  It also appears more of these onetime non-affiliated players are getting opportunities at baseball's highest level.

No less than seven Independent grads have made their major league debut already in 2021, only two below the final count in 2019, baseball's last full season.

The biggest story probably belongs to right-handed pitcher Tommy Nance even though the Chicago Cubs have sent the 30-year-old back to Triple-A Iowa for the time being.  Nance began his professional career in the Frontier League in 2015.  Ironically, it was at Windy City in Crestwood, IL which is not far from Wrigley Field.

The Santa Clara University product was exceptional for the major league Cubs when he appeared out of the bullpen 13 times without being charged with an earned run.  Nance had a 40-day stint with the Northsiders, then a brief recall and has a season log for 20 games of one victory, 23 strikeouts in 21.1 innings and a 5.06 earned run average which would be much lower except for a five-run outburst against him in only 1.2 innings at Milwaukee.

It seems likely he will be back.


Joining Tommy Nance with their major league debut this season are pitchers Anthony Bender (Sioux City and Milwaukee, American Association) with Miami, Mickey Jannis (Long Island, Southern Maryland and Bridgeport of the Atlantic League and Lake Erie in the Frontier) and Konner Wade (Sugar Land, Atlantic) with Baltimore, Vinny Nittoli (St. Paul, American Association) with Seattle, and Jack Cousins (Schaumburg, Frontier, and Chicago, American Association) with Milwaukee plus outfielder Dillon Thomas (Texas, American Association) with the Mariners.

Bender and Cousins still are in the majors.


Some of the best new opportunities this season for former Indy players belong to pitcher Chase DeJong and first baseman John Nogowski.

Nogowski is making the most of his new opportunity since St. Louis sent him to Pittsburgh days ago.  After facing a backlog at first base with the Cardinals, the onetime Sioux City (American Association) slugger has gone 7-for-12 (.583) with an RBI and three runs scored in his first three games for the Bucs.  He had one four-hit game.

DeJong (Sugar Land, Atlantic League, and Team Skeeters, Constellation Energy League) is taking a regular turn in the Pittsburgh rotation with a 1-3 record and 5.08 ERA for seven starts.


Other recent additions to major league rosters are hurlers D. J. Johnson (Traverse City, Frontier) with Cleveland and Ian Krol (Nerds Herd, City of Champions Cup League) with Detroit.  Righty Trevor Richards (Gateway, Frontier) has changed uniforms, going from Tampa Bay to Toronto.

Thirty-one former Independent players have had time in the majors or on injured lists this season with 15 active heading into the weekend before the All-Star Game and another seven out with injuries.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Perhaps Not Another Mercedes, But Anthony Bender a New Major Leaguer

            While it seems totally safe to say nothing is going to top Yermin Mercedes's amazing production for the Chicago White Sox in terms of contributions from Independent Baseball graduates during the 2021 season, it always will be a Red Letter Day when another name is added for the very first time to an active major league roster.

            Anthony Bender became the 274th Independent player since 1993 (Source: IndyBaseballChatter) to pull on a major league uniform this week.  The right-handed pitcher, whose sinker averaged more than 97 miles per hour during spring training according to Statcast, joined the Miami Marlins.  At the age of 24, Bender pitched two games for Sioux City in the American Association in 2019 after four years in the Kansas City and Milwaukee farm systems, then spent two months last summer with that league's Milwaukee Milkmen (2-1, 5.48 for 22 appearances).

            Twenty-five other players with Independent experience have experienced major league time (or been on injured lists) so far this young season, but Bender is the first to get his initial opportunity at baseball's top level.

            Meanwhile, Mercedes, the catcher-DH who came out of the unheralded Pecos League (Douglas and White Sands) and the onetime United League (San Angelo) and became the American League's Rookie Position Player of the Month for April, saw his imposing season average drop to .386--roughly 150 points above the major league average--when he pinch hit Wednesday afternoon in Chicago's 10-inning, 1-0 loss at Cincinnati.

            Mercedes started the season with hits in his first eight times at bat, a feat the Elias Sports Bureau reported has not been accomplished in the majors since at least 1900.  He made his major league debut with a single at bat last season.

            "I think he was upset when he made the out (ninth at bat),” said White Sox manager Tony La Russa, who has been in the game for 60 years, told MLB.com at the time.  “And it’s clutch. That’s the thing, it’s not just for show. He’s putting us in a great position to win."

            Two other Indy grads who have been called back up to the majors recently are righty James Hoyt (American Association and North American League) by the Los Angeles Angels and infielder Ildemaro Vargas (Atlantic League) by the Chicago Cubs.

Other Moves

            One of the Independent game's best recent finds, hurler Tanner Roark (Southern Illinois, Frontier League), is a free agent after being let go by Toronto.  He has won 10 or more games five times since his major league debut nine years ago, compiling a 76-68, 3.85 record mostly in starting roles for the Blue Jays and three other teams. 

            Former major league pitcher Tim Adleman (Lincoln and El Paso, American Association; New Jersey, Can-Am League; Long Island, Atlantic) came off the free agent roles and is listed in Cincinnati's alternate training site.  Shortstop Peter Mooney, another New Jersey Jackals product, has a new minor league contract from Miami.   

Friday, April 02, 2021


            Two players with a single game of major league experience are among the 16 onetime Independent Baseball graduates who have opened the regular season with big-league jobs, the annual review by IndyBaseballChatter.com has revealed.  Another four are on the injured list.

            First baseman John Nogowski, who played at Sioux City in the American Association in 2017, hit a robust .333 (11-for-33) with a .477 on-base percentage this spring to land a bench job with St. Louis.  Yermin Mercedes is one of the trio of catchers on the Chicago White Sox 26-man active list after he hit .277 (13-for-51) in spring training.  Mercedes spent all of 2014 in the Pecos (Douglas and White Sands) and United (San Angelo) Leagues for a renewed start on his pro career after three seasons in the Dominican Summer League under the Washington Nationals banner.

            Nogowski went 1-for-4 in his only game with the Cardinals last season while Mercedes got a single at bat (0-for-1) in his initial major league contest.

            Thirteen of the 16 major leaguers are pitchers, and the American Association dominates with 10 players out of its circuit, eight more than from any other league.

            Pitchers (13)--Ross Detwiler, Miami (York, Atlantic League);  *Randy Dobnak, Minnesota (Utica, United Shore League);  Junior Guerra, Los Angeles-AL (Wichita, American Association);  Rich Hill, Tampa Bay  (Long Island, Atlantic);   Brandon Kintzler, Philadelphia (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, when in the Northern League); *Chris Martin, Atlanta (Grand Prairie, American Association); Tyler Matzek, Atlanta (Texas, American Association);   *James Paxton, Seattle (Grand Prairie);  *Tanner Roark, Toronto (Southern Illinois, Frontier League);  Chaz Roe, Tampa Bay (Laredo, American Association);  *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth, American Association);  Caleb Thielbar, Minnesota (St. Paul);  *Eric Yardley, Milwaukee (Trinidad and Taos, Pecos League).

                Position Players (3)--C Yermin Mercedes, Chicago-AL (Douglas and White Sands, Pecos, and San Angelo, United League);  1B John Nogowski, St. Louis (Sioux City, American Association);  OF David Peralta, Arizona (Amarillo and Wichita, American Association, and Rio Grande Valley, North American League).         

                Injured List (4)--RHP*Nick Anderson, Tampa Bay (Rockford and Frontier Greys, Frontier); RHP John Brebbia, San Francisco (Sioux Falls and Laredo, American Association);  OF Jose Martinez, New York-NL (Rockford, Frontier);  RHP Justin Topa, Milwaukee (Rockland, Can-Am League).

                *Started career in an Independent league

Monday, March 29, 2021

Nogowski, Dobnak, Thielbar Have Majors Jobs, Others Still Hopeful

        It is still about 72 hours until the cry of Play Ball becomes real so much can happen as major league teams juggle their rosters to get to the 26-man Opening Day limit.

        But considerable positive news already is known for some of the former Independent Baseball players who started spring training last month hoping to survive all of the painful cuts before April 1.

        --Onetime Sioux City (American Association) first baseman John Nogowski has officially landed a bench job with St. Louis after a terrific spring.  He will be a pinch hitter as well as a backup at first base and the corner outfield positions.

       --The United Shore League's No. 1 find, right-hander Randy Dobnak, has given the Independent ranks another bragging point by not only sticking with Minnesota but garnering a five-year contract extension that reportedly could amount to nearly $30 million.  He pitched for Utica in the Michigan-based league.

            --Southpaw Caleb Thielbar's persistence has paid off with a second consecutive time in the Twins' bullpen at age 34, but only after he returned to St. Paul (American Association) for two seasons (2016-17) after his first stint of two-plus years with the American Association team had ended.  He tried to make it with two other organizations after his second time in St. Paul.

       --All signs point to veteran reliever Brandon Kintzler (St. Paul plus Winnipeg when it was still in the Northern League) being in Philadelphia's bullpen although the team has not officially promoted him from his non-roster status in spring training.

       Some of the decisions still to be made are whether righty Chase DeJong (Sugar Land, Atlantic League) will stick with Pittsburgh despite a solid spring, will lefty Scott Kazmir (Sugar Land) land a comeback role with San Francisco and can veteran Luis Garcia (Newark, Can-Am League) squeeze his way onto the New York Yankees bullpen.  Miami seems ready to keep both James Hoyt and Ross Detwiler in the bullpen with first-timer Anthony Bender, another Sioux City product, still in the picture.

       There have been disappointments, of course, with No. 1 probably being Tampa Bay's shelving Indy native Nick Anderson (Rockford and Frontier Greys, Frontier League) for at least 60 days because of elbow problems.  Marcus Walden of Boston, Andrew Albers of Minnesota and Mike Kickham of the Los Angeles Dodgers had some excellent outings this spring, but could not nail down jobs, at least to start the season.

       Still others decisions loom prior to Thursday's openers, and IndyBaseballChatter.com will track those as part of our annual list of all Independent players who will open in the majors.


Wednesday, March 17, 2021


             The first sure thing--if there is such a thing for non-poster boys in spring training--is that veteran right-hander Junior Guerra, a onetime starting pitcher in the American Association, will open the season in the major leagues with the Los Angeles Angels.

            Although a regular on major league pitching staffs since 2017, the 36-year-old, who went 18-7 in two seasons at Wichita ('11, '13), entered the Angels' camp this spring as a non-roster player.  The native Venezuelan won a promotion to the 40-man roster this week, and seems certain to be on Joe Maddon's 26-man opening day roster.

            While Guerra's immediate future seems settled, the intrigue remains for many of the 30 non-roster players as well as a few of the other former Independent Baseball players with 40-man roster status who started the spring in major league camps.  Opening day is little more than two weeks away so the palms are likely to be sweating each time one of these players gets into an exhibition game.

            Prime examples can be found in the Chicago White Sox camp in Arizona and at Tampa Bay's base in Florida.

            Pecos and United League grad Yermin Mercedes, who got into his only major league game last season, could be the second or third catcher for the Chisox, or he could be back in the minor leagues if Tony LaRussa and company decide two backstops are sufficient.

            The debate between two and three has heightened by the fact vet Yasmani Grandal has been slowed by a knee injury.  Mercedes and Zach Collins seem to be next in the picture.

            “Competition is good right now,” Mercedes told MLB.com. “Just working hard here with the coaches.  They are giving their support for everybody here.  Just believe in everybody and give them the chance.  Doing the best we can do.  We are feeling good with the coaches and Tony.” The 28-year-old has hit .273 (6-for-22) in 11 Cactus League appearances with three doubles and six runs batted.

            The Tampa Bay competition is heightened by the fact the defending American League champions had 15 members of its extremely deep pitching staff with 0.00 earned run averages this spring entering Grapefruit League play Wednesday.  That group included Indy grads Chris Mazza (Southern Maryland, Atlantic League, and San Rafael, Pacific Association) and non-roster Brian Moran (Bridgeport, Atlantic).  Both have made three appearances.  Also seemingly in the picture are Dietrich Enns (2.70 ERA) and returning free agent Chaz Roe.  Enns worked in the City of Champions Cup league in Joliet, IL last summer while Roe has spent time in the American Association.  Nick Anderson, who started his career in the Frontier League (Rockford and Frontier Greys), is anchored in a relief job, likely as a closer.

            This 'n That--Sioux City product (American Association) John Nogowski is making a stiff bid to stick on St. Louis's bench by hitting .333 (6-for-18) with a homer and eight RBI.  The first baseman had one four-hit contest...It may be too much of an uphill battle this spring, but onetime Fargo (American Association) catcher Nick Kahle has a double and homer among three hits and only five official plate appearances.  He also has four RBI in four games for Milwaukee...lefty Zac Rosscup, re-signed by Colorado and a product of the Constellation Energy League in Sugar Land, TX last summer, has made two scoreless appearances (1.1 IP) for the Rockies...Tim Dillard has called it quits after 18 pro seasons, including several major league stints and Indy time with Lancaster (Atlantic League) and Milwaukee (American Association)...Toronto signed free agent right-hander James Dykstra once again.  His Independent experience was in the Atlantic League (Southern Maryland and Sugar Land) as well as with Sioux City.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Kazmir, Roe Help Lift Indy Count in MLB Camps Past One Year Ago

    With veterans Scott Kazmir and Chaz Roe leading the way, four more pitchers have jumped the count of former Independent league players in major league spring training camps to 52.  That is one more than last spring, with 44 of them being mound hopefuls.

    The addition of the left-handed Kazmir, who was at Sugar Land, TX of the Atlantic League in 2012, as a non-roster player with San Francisco is somewhat of a surprise in that he is now 37 and has not pitched in the majors since 2016 (Dodgers).  He has dazzled with all-star talent during his career.  On his side is that Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and Kazmir have had time together with both Oakland the Los Angeles.

    Once one of the game's most promising talents before a variety of injuries slowed him, Kazmir has a career record of 108-96 for nearly 300 major league starts.

    Roe, 34, threw for a number of major league organizations recently before leaving free agency for another turn with Tampa Bay's strong bullpen.  The right-hander, whose Indy experience came in the American Association, will be in his ninth major league campaign and his fifth in a row with the Rays, for whom he has compiled a 3.54 ERA with 139 strikeouts in 119.1 innings spread over 151 appearances.  He was limited to 10 outings last season before elbow problems popped up, costing him of being with the team as Tampa Bay won the American League championship.

    Roe's presence with Tampa Bay gives the Rays one more reason Independent fans will be following the team.  They recently signed Rich Hill as a potential starter, and have standout reliever Nick Anderson along with talented Trevor Richards, former Boston Red Sox Chris Mazza and have invited southpaws Dietrich Enns and Ian Krol to camp.  The latter pair kept their careers moving last summer when they pitched in the quickly-organized City of Champions Cup league in Joliet, IL.

   The Rays also recently purchased righty Stetson Allie from the Kansas City Monarchs of the American Association although he is not in the big-league camp.  The Monarchs had signed him during the offseason.

Long Island's Travis Snider Joins Braves Organization

    It would not be much of a surprise if outfielder Travis Snider found his way into an Atlanta Braves game this spring even though he is not currently listed among those in the major league camp.  He inked a minor league deal, and was with current General Manager Alex Anthopoulos when both were with Toronto.  Snider has spent time with the Long Island Ducks (Atlantic League) since he hit the last of his 54 major league home runs.

Friday, February 19, 2021


     Since last year's minor league season was a near total loss because of the pandemic and Independent Baseball players were not being purchased by major league organizations one might have expected a sizable drop in the number former unaffiliated players in major league spring training camps this time around.

    It is not so.  The annual research by IndyBaseballChatter.com reveals the decrease has only been from 51 players one year ago to 48 now, and it is not out of the question for others still to be added.

    Twenty-two of the players, including 18 of the 40 pitchers on the entire list, are on major league 40-man rosters while the other 26 are non-roster invitees.

    One of the more interesting invitees is southpaw hurler Andrew Albers, now 35, who has spent the last three seasons with the Orix Buffaloes organization in Japan.  Albers, who got his major league opportunity after a stunning 3-0, 17-save, 1.40 ERA for Quebec in the Can-Am League more than a decade ago (2010), is back with Minnesota.  He broke into the majors with the Twins in 2013 and now is in his third stint with the team.  He also has pitched for Toronto and Seattle, compiling a 7-6, 4.10 record with 18 of his 26 appearances in starting roles.

    Two interesting players hoping to get their initial major league opportunity are pitchers Jacob Condra-Bogan (Washington Nationals) and Kaleb Ort (Boston Red Sox), both of whom started their professional career in the Independent Frontier League.  Condra-Bogan started with another Washington, the Wild Things of Washington, PA while Ort was with Joliet, IL.

    The entire lineup of former Independent players, including both their current major league and onetime unaffiliated clubs:

    Pitchers (40)--#Fernando Abad, Baltimore (Long Island, Atlantic League);  #Andrew Albers, Minnesota (Quebec, Can-Am League, and Lancaster, Atlantic);   *Nick Anderson, Tampa Bay (Rockford and Frontier Greys, Frontier League);  #Anthony Bender, Miami (Sioux City, American Associaton);  #Ben Bracewell, Oakland (River City, Frontier);  +John Brebbia, San Francisco (Sioux Falls and Laredo, American Association);   #*Jacob Condra-Bogan, Washington (Washington, Frontier);  #Jake Cousins, Milwaukee (Schaumburg, Frontier);  #Chase DeJong, Pittsburgh (Sugar Land, Atlantic, and Team Skeeters, Constellation Energy League);  Ross Detwiler, Miami (York, Atlantic);  *Randy Dobnak, Minnesota (Utica, United Shore League);  #Nick Duron, Seattle (Southern Illinois, Frontier);  #Luis Garcia, New York-AL (Newark, Can-Am);  #Zac Grotz, Boston (York and Bridgeport, Atlantic, and Washington);  #Junior Guerra, Los Angeles-AL (Wichita, American Association);  Rich Hill, Tampa Bay, (Long Island);  *James Hoyt, Miami (Wichita, American Association, and Yuma and Edinburg, North American League);   #D. J. Johnson, Cleveland (Traverse City, Frontier);  #Mike Kickham, Los Angeles-NL (Kansas City, American Association);  #Brandon Kintzler, Philadelphia (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, when it was in the Northern League);  #Parker Markel, San Diego (Sioux City); *Chris Martin, Atlanta (Grand Prairie, American Association); Tyler Matzek, Atlanta (Texas, American Association);  Chris Mazza, Tampa Bay (Southern Maryland, Atlantic, and San Rafael, Pacific Association);   #Ian McKinney, Seattle (Sioux City);  #Brian Moran, Tampa Bay (Bridgeport);  *#Kaleb Ort, Boston (Joliet, Frontier);  *James Paxton, Seattle (Grand Prairie);  *Trevor Richards, Tampa Bay (Gateway, Frontier);  *Tanner Roark, Toronto (Southern Illinois, Frontier); *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth, American Association); #D. J. Snelten, Chicago-NL (Chicago, American Association);  Robert Stock, Chicago-NL (New Jersey, Can-Am, and Normal, Frontier);  Caleb Thielbar, Minnesota (St. Paul);  #Matt Tomshaw, Chicago-AL (Fargo-Moorhead, American Association);  Justin Topa, Milwaukee (Rockland, Can-Am);  Nik Turley, Oakland (Somerset, Atlantic);  Marcus Walden, Boston (Lancaster);   #Austin Warner, St. Louis (River City);  *Eric Yardley, Milwaukee (Trinidad and Taos, Pecos).

            Catcher (1)--Yermin Mercedes, Chicago-AL (Douglas and White Sands, Pecos League, and San Angelo, United League).

            Infielders (5)--#Kody Clemens, Detroit (Texas, CEL);  Jose Martinez, New York-NL (Rockford); John Nogowski, St. Louis (Sioux City);  #Brandon Snyder, Washington (Southern Maryland); Ildemaro Vargas, Chicago-NL (Bridgeport).

             Outfielders (2)--David Peralta, Arizona (Amarillo and Wichita, American Association, and Rio Grande Valley, North American);  #Dillon Thomas, Seattle (Texas).

            *Started career in an Independent league;  +Is on 60-day injured list.

 Jannis Gets Look From Orioles

    Several other Independent grads may get attention from major league teams via the new stipulation of organizations being allowed to have up to 75 players in their spring training camps since full minor league operations will not open because of COVID-19 until the American and National League teams have broken camp.

    The first such player IndyBaseballChatter has identified is right-hander Mickey Jannis, now in the Baltimore chain.  The veteran hurler has seen Indy duty with Long Island, Southern Maryland and Bridgeport in the Atlantic League as well as Lake Erie in the Frontier League.

Don't Look Now

    Recent free agent signings have seen lefties Rich Hill and James Paxton move to new organizations.  Hill is with Tampa Bay and Indy original Paxton with Seattle.  Another joining the Rays is righty Chris Mazza, who was traded from Boston.

Friday, February 12, 2021


             After all of the shakedown because of the major leagues reducing their number of minor league affiliates, Independent Baseball has seen a significant increase for the new season.  www.independentbaseball.net, which tracks all of the current leagues as well as projected startups, lists 71 teams expected to play this season at this point.

            The most prominent leagues are the holdover American Association, Atlantic League and Frontier League.  They are to be joined by the Pecos League, United Shore League, Empire League and two circuits that have emerged because of MLB's restructuring, the Pioneer and Mavericks leagues.

Non-Roster Invitations Up to 16 So Far

            Veteran pitchers Brandon Kintzler and D. J. Johnson spice up the list of onetime Independent Baseball players added recently as non-roster invitees to major league spring training camps.

            Kintzler, 36, has joined Philadelphia's re-worked bullpen after turning down a $2 million guarantee from Miami.  He is officially on a minor league contract but has the chance to make up to twice that much (including $1 million in incentives) if he earns a roster spot.  That seems a given based on his long career in the major leagues.  He closed for the Marlins last season, saving 12 games in 14 opportunities with a 2.22 earned run average.

            Johnson will train with Cleveland as he returns to this country after spending last season in Japan.

            While two non-roster players were revealed by IndyBaseballChatter.com earlier, 14 more have received invitations recently and many of the 30 teams still have not revealed who they are bringing to camp in Florida or Arizona in addition to their regular 40-man roster players.  Twenty-two more with Independent experience have automatic invitations to major league camps by virtue of being on 40-man rosters, and veteran southpaws Rich Hill and James Paxton still are free agents.

            The recent non-roster invitees with their major league team and their previous ties to Indy leagues and teams (#indicates not officially announced):

            Pitchers--#Fernando Abad, Baltimore (Long Island, Atlantic League); Ben Bracewell, Oakland (River City, Frontier League); #Hunter Cervenka, Baltimore (Sugar Land, Atlantic);  Chase DeJong, Pittsburgh (Sugar Land and Team Skeeters, Constellation Energy League); Nick Duron, Seattle (Southern Illinois, Frontier); #Junior Guerra, Los Angeles-AL (Wichita, American Association);  D. J. Johnson, Cleveland (Traverse City, Frontier); Brandon Kintzler, Philadelphia (St. Paul, American Association, and Winnipeg, when it was in the Northern League); Ian McKinney, Seattle (Sioux City, American Association); Matt Tomshaw, Chicago-AL (Fargo-Moorhead, American Association);  Austin Warner, St. Louis (River City).

            Infielders--Kody Clemens, Detroit (Texas, CEL); Brandon Snyder, Washington (Southern Maryland, Atlantic).

             Outfielder--Dillon Thomas, Seattle (Texas, American Association).

This 'n That

            With spring training fast approaching, several players on Independent rosters have had their contracts purchased by major league organizations.  The interruption of last season because of COVID-19 had virtually stopped these opportunities for several months.

            In recent free agent signings, Konner Wade, a right-handed pitcher in the Boston farm system, has joined the Baltimore system.  His Indy time was with Sugar Land in the Atlantic League.  Another righty, Connor Overton, re-signed with the Toronto farm system.  He previously played for Sioux City in the American Association and Lancaster in the Atlantic League.

Friday, January 22, 2021


 After a year without a great many games and with the major leagues streamlining their minor league systems starting in 2021, the purchasing of Independent Baseball players is nearly at a standstill (temporarily, we hope), but for those who entered the affiliated ranks prior to COVID-19 the opportunities with the 30 big-league organizations continue to be available.

IndyBaseballChatter.com has tracked many interesting--and mostly positive--transactions in recent weeks.  We're doing some grouping here by category with the player's Independent team(s) and league(s) in parenthesis.  *Indicates player started his professional career in an Independent league:

Moving from one major league organization to another:  Pitchers John Brebbia (Sioux Falls and Laredo, American Association) from St. Louis to San Francisco, Ross Detwiler (York, Atlantic League) from Chicago-AL to Miami, and Nik Turley (Somerset, Atlantic) from Pittsburgh to Oakland and outfielder-first baseman Jose Martinez (Rockford, Frontier League) from Chicago-NL to New York-NL. 

Non-40-man roster players invited to major league spring training camps: Pitchers Anthony Bender (Sioux City, American Association) from Milwaukee to Miami, and Zac Grotz (Washington, Frontier, and York and Bridgeport, Atlantic) from Seattle to Boston.

Promoted to a higher minor league level: Pitchers Jordan Brink (Southern Illinois and River City, Frontier, and Pittsburg, Pacific Association) from AA to AAA and from St. Louis to Tampa Bay, *Luis Contreras (Eastside, United Shore League, and Puerto Rico, Empire League) from Class A to AA by Milwaukee, Alec Kisena (Gateway, Frontier) from A to AA by New York-NL, Adam Oller (Windy City, Frontier) from AA to AAA by New York-NL, and *Austin Warner (River City) from AA to AAA by St. Louis, and outfielder Matt Hearn (Gateway) from AA to AAA by Colorado.

Free Agents Newly Signed: Pitchers Fernando Abad (Long Island, Atlantic) from New York-AL to Baltimore, Chase DeJong (Sugar Land, Atlantic, and Team Skeeters, Constellation Energy League) from Houston to Pittsburgh, Tim Dillard (Lancaster, Atlantic) re-signed by Texas and Kevin Munson (Lancaster and Southern Maryland, Atlantic) re-signed by Seattle, and D. J. Snelten (Chicago, American Association) from Tampa Bay to Chicago-NL.

Joining a foreign league: Pitchers Matt Dermody (Sugar Land and Team Skeeters) from Chicago-NL to Seibu Lions, Japan, and Drew Rucinski (Rockford) returns to NC Dinos, Korea.