Independent Baseball Insider: Vol. 11, No. 24, July 25, 2013
By Bob Wirz
The deck has been shuffled, moving Winnipeg, Manitoba, ahead of 2012 newcomer Sugar Land, TX and Kansas City, KS has jumped two spots to third, but the same five teams that led Independent Baseball in per-opening attendance one year ago remain the same past the halfway mark in the ‘13 season.
Winnipeg, pacing four American Association teams in the top ten, is averaging 5,852 fans every time the Goldeyes open the Shaw Park (pictured) gates. Kansas City has improved the most, jumping by more than 400 spectators per game to 5,668. American Association crowds average 3,338.
The Atlantic League and American Association both seem likely to top two million in total attendance again this season with 15 of their combined 21 teams topping 3,000 per-game.
The top ten teams and the leader in each league, with statistics provided by Pointstreak, the official league statisticians, and compiled by the Independent Baseball Insider:
|Sugar Land||Atlantic League||45||256,464||5,699|
|Kansas City||Amn. Assn.||30||170,031||5,668|
|Long Island||Atlantic League||44||231,306||5,257|
|St Paul||Amn. Assn.||26||120,204||4,623|
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Could Hankerd or Raben Be Next?
Almost as if on cue after the promotions of Chris Colabello and Brock Peterson, two other guys with lots of power have moved from Independent leagues into the affiliated minors.
First baseman-outfielder Dennis Raben bashed 10 home runs in only 23 games for Lincoln, NE of the American Association before Kansas City purchased his contract earlier this season. And very recently, former Amarillo Sox outfielder Cyle Hankerd began playing at the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels.
Hankerd, 28, an outfielder, has jumped out of the gate with Class AA Arkansas, going 7-for-14 in his first three games with a homer, three runs batted in and five runs. He had one 4-for-5 outing. Raben, playing one level lower in the Carolina League, has six homers in his first 36 games for Wilmington, DE but the left-handed hitter has driven in 25 runs while hitting .261. He does not turn 26 until next week.
Mound Honors, Too
Turning to pitching, southpaw Greg Smith (Grand Prairie, American Association) and righty Brandon Sinnery (Lincoln, NE, American Association) are the latest to earn league-wide Pitcher of the Week awards. Smith is with Philadelphia’s top farm club, Lehigh Valley (Allentown, PA) of the International League, and Sinnery was recently promoted by Arizona to the Class A California League (Visalia).
They cannot be hotter, though, than Mark Serrano. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 2.18 earned run average since having his contract purchased. Serrano came from Laredo, TX (American Association) to Arizona’s minor league system and has bounced between the Class AA club in Mobile, AL (3-0) and Triple-A Reno.
Fargo Nets 1,000th Win, All-Time Theft Record Tied
One all-time record and a significant milestone were within reach on American Association diamonds Thursday afternoon.
Fargo, ND, seemingly a title contender every year because of the teams assembled by longtime Manager Doug Simunic, became the fourth Independent Baseball franchise to record its 1,000th victory. The RedHawks did it in style, scoring three times in the bottom of the ninth inning in front of a capacity crowd of 4,509 to outlast longtime rival St. Paul, MN, 5-3. Fargo has lost only 631 times for a highly-impressive .613 percentage, which is well above the winning percentage of the three previous teams to reach the milestone. Somerset, NJ and Bridgeport, CT, which benefit from longer Atlantic League seasons, have 1,131 and 1,106 victories, respectively, while Winnipeg (American Association) earned its 1,036th all-time victory on Thursday. The figures were provided by the RedHawks.
Winnipeg speedster Fehlandt Lentini tied what is believed to be the all-time Independent Baseball record for stolen bases with his 331st theft Wednesday night, but the 35-year-old, whose career has topped out at Triple-A, could not add to the total despite a 2-for-4, two-RBI performance in the Goldeyes’ 8-1 triumph over Sioux Falls, SD Thursday. Lentini shares the record with Billy Hall, who last played for Somerset in 2005. Hall stole 104 bases for the Patriots in 2000. Lentini also played for Amarillo, TX of the American Association as well as for Indy teams in Maui, HA and Calgary.
(Bob Wirz also writes about Independent Baseball on www.IndyBaseballChatter.com. Fans may subscribe to this Independent Baseball Insider column, which will be published 40 times in 2013, at www.WirzandAssociates.com or comment to RWirz@aol.com. The author has 16 years of major league baseball experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners, and lives in Stratford, CT.)