Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz (Vol. 12, No. 9 – May 1, 2014)
This week’s tip to Independent Baseball players hoping to attract a major league organization: Reach out to the first Arizona Diamondbacks scout you can find.
While all 30 major league organizations have at least one player who has been in an Independent league, the D-Backs are the most active in trying to utilize such talent. In fact, it is not even close. Arizona has 18 players who have played in non-affiliated leagues including current major league relief pitchers Joe Thatcher and Brad Ziegler. The team also has two Indy vets with its top farm club, Reno, in former American Association pitchers Bo Schultz (pictured, Grand Prairie 2011) and Mark Serrano (Laredo 2013).
Atlanta, which has been busier than usual of late, ranks second with 14 Independent players, including prized rookie southpaw Ian Thomas, who started his professional career with a current American Association city (Winnipeg), and not only shocked many an onlooker by sticking with the parent Braves in spring training but picked up his first major league victory this week and has a 1.59 ERA for eight games.
The New York Yankees rank third with 11 onetime Indy players, followed by the Chicago White Sox, San Diego and Washington with nine apiece and the Los Angeles Angels and New York Mets both with eight. St. Louis, Cleveland and the Chicago Cubs only have one player apiece.
The total count, based on records maintained by the Independent Baseball Insider, shows 22 players in the major leagues and 168 more in the minors.
(Fans may subscribe to this Independent Baseball Insider column, which will be published 36 times in 2014, at www.WirzandAssociates.com. Bob Wirz provides supplemental stories about Independent Baseball on his blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com. The author has 16 years of major league baseball experience with Kansas City and as chief spokesman for two Commissioners, and lives in Stratford, CT.)