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