Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
A new baseball record is probably not the first thing that pops into mind the last week of December.
But it could happen any day now in the American Association.
Once Laredo catcher Zane Chavez signed with Pittsburgh the Lemurs moved within one sale to a major league organization of equaling the league record of eight in one year by the 2011 Lincoln Saltdogs, The Laredo Morning Times points out.
Laredo currently shares second place with Fargo (2012) and Wichita (2015). Zach Davis of The Morning Times also reports that only Wichita has had more players signed by major league organizations since Laredo joined the league five years ago. The Wingnuts have a 20-19 advantage over Laredo.
One possible candidate to help Laredo equal the record would seem to be hard-throwing Jose Nivar, who Baseball America tabbed this fall as the best pitching prospect in Independent Baseball. “(Nivar’s) been the one jewel everyone has wanted to see,” Lemurs manager Pete Incaviglia told the newspaper a few weeks ago. “He throws 100 mph and he’s a freak athlete. He’s obviously going to get a shot somewhere.”
AA Grads Impressive Down Under
A pair of former American Association hurlers are setting an enviable pace in the Australian League.
St. Paul’s Mark Hamburger (St. Paul 2013, 2016) leads the league in strikeouts (45 in 34.2 innings) and his 1.82 earned run average ranks second. He is undefeated (3-0) after six outings for Melbourne, including five starts. Ryan Searle (Grand Prairie 2014) leads everyone with six saves for Brisbane, and he has a 0.84 ERA with 19 strikeouts in a mere 10.2 innings.
Kintzler Gets Hall of Fame Honors
Minnesota Twins reliever Brandon Kintzler (St. Paul 2009) can now be called a Hall of Fame pitcher. Dixie State University will induct Kintzler and four others into its Athletic Hall of Fame in a January 28 ceremony at St. George, UT.
Kintzler was a key to Dixie State’s 2004 National Junior College Athletic Association championship team, posting a 9-1 record and a 2.30 ERA.
Wichita’s Cox Lands in Triple-A
Detroit obviously thinks highly of recently-signed third baseman Zack Cox. The Tigers have placed the left-handed hitter on the roster of Triple-A Toledo. The 27-year-old has been one step from the majors before although his strong season at Wichita gives the onetime University of Arkansas star new life to his career.
He was among league leaders in various categories this past summer, sharing second place in doubles with 30 and tying for third with 77 runs scored in 96 games with the Wingnuts. He hit a dozen home runs, drove in 64 runs and hit .290.
Previously the chief spokesman for Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about Independent Baseball since 2003. He is a frequent contributor to this site, has a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and his book, “The Passion of Baseball”, was introduced in October.