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.
THE OTHER SIX
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.
PAIR OF PIRATES
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.
15 IN MAJORS PLUS 7 ON INJURED LIST
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.