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 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., 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 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.