Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
Most major league teams have not revealed the bulk of their non-roster invitees to spring training camps, but IndyBaseballChatter has been busy working through various sources and we can now say with confidence that the number of players who have been in Independent leagues and will train with one of the 30 organizations almost certainly will top the 50 mark of last February.
We can identify 42 players already ticketed for major league camps in Florida or Arizona even though about seven weeks remain before we hear the happy cry of “pitchers and catchers”, traditionally the first big-leaguers asked to report.
After last season’s record of 45 onetime Indy players seeing action during the regular major league season, 26 players are currently on 40-man rosters, an increase of one over last spring training, and 16 players that we know of have been given non-roster invitations. That means only nine more players need to be tabbed to top last season’s total. That number seems almost certain to be exceded, possibly by a fairly wide margin, once organizations return from an end-of-year break and more of them identify their non-roster invitation lists.
For starters in increasing the list, four established major leaguers still are free agents, beginning with right-handed pitcher Luke Hochevar and infielder Stephen Drew. Tom Wilhelmsen and Jerome Williams also remain available to any team although their careers probably are considerably closer to the end than the beginning.
Pitchers dominate the ranks of players headed to spring training, as always. Hurlers have 32 of the 42 spots already known by “Chatter” with three catchers, a similar number of infielders and four outfielders. The American Association and Atlantic League continue to have the most players on the list.