The opening of spring training camps is a reminder of how much Independent Baseball continues to contribute to the major league baseball landscape.
Fifty-one players who have started their career in a non-affiliated league or have gone there for a second chance have invitations to one of the 30 major league camps, according to records compiled exclusively by www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and, if history repeats, that number may even climb a little more as teams make last minute decisions.
The count is exactly the same as one year ago, with pitchers once more dominating in that they have 41 of the slots. Three catchers, four infielders and three outfielders complete the list.
Twenty-three of the players are on 40-man rosters while the others have non-roster invitations.
The American Association can claim 20 of the 51 spots with the Atlantic League next with 18, followed by the Frontier League with nine and the former Can-Am League (it is now part of the Frontier) accounting for seven. Some players have been in more than one of the Indy circuits. Ten leagues are represented in all, including three that no longer are active.
While the list includes established major leaguers such as Washington ace Max Scherzer, Toronto starter Tanner Roark and Arizona hitting star David Peralta, decisions to be made between now and Opening Day (March 26) include whether Randy Dobnak can nail down a starting mound role with Minnesota, will first baseman John Nogowski (St. Louis) and lefty Mike Kickham (Boston) prove themselves ready and whether Tampa Bay will end up with four Indy leaguers among its 26-man active roster.
The entire list of players with Independent Baseball playing experience who are due in major league spring training camps, including the team and the Indy leagues and teams where they played:
Pitchers (41)--NR-Fernando Abad, Washington (Long Island, Atlantic League); NR-Tim Adleman, Detroit (Long Island; Lincoln and El Paso, American Association; New Jersey, Can-Am League); *Nick Anderson, Tampa Bay (Frontier Greys and Rockford, Frontier League); NR-Phillippe Aumont, Toronto (Ottawa and Quebec, Can-Am); NR-Ben Bracewell, Oakland (River City, Frontier); John Brebbia, St. Louis (Laredo and Sioux Falls, American Association); NR-David Carpenter, Cincinnati (Bridgeport, Atlantic); NR-Hunter Cervenka, Baltimore (Sugar Land, Atlantic); NR-Ross Detwiler, Chicago-AL (York, Atlantic); NR-Tim Dillard, Texas (Lancaster, Atlantic); *Randy Dobnak, Minnesota (Utica, United Shore League); Wilmer Font, Toronto (Ottawa); NR-Luis Garcia, Texas (Newark, Can-Am); *Zac Grotz, Seattle (Washington, Frontier League; Bridgeport and York); Junior Guerra, Arizona (Wichita, American Association); Rich Hill, Minnesota (Long Island); *James Hoyt, Cleveland (Wichita; Edinburg and Yuma, North American League); NR-Mike Kickham, Boston (Kansas City, American Association); Brandon Kintzler, Miami (St. Paul, American Association; Winnipeg, Northern League); #Parker Markel, Los Angeles-AL (Sioux City, American Association); *Chris Martin, Atlanta (Grand Prairie, American Association); Chris Mazza, Boston (Southern Maryland, Atlantic; San Rafael, Pacific Association); NR-Ian McKinney, Seattle (Sioux City); NR-Trey McNutt, San Francisco (Fargo-Moorhead, American Association); NR-Tim Melville, Colorado (Long Island); NR-Brian Moran, Toronto (Bridgeport); NR-Chris Nunn, Atlanta (Evansville; St. Paul); *James Paxton, New York-AL (Grand Prairie); NR-Alex Powers, Cincinnati (New Jersey); Trevor Richards, Tampa Bay (Gateway, Frontier); *Tanner Roark, Toronto (Southern Illinois, Frontier); Chaz Roe, Tampa Bay (Laredo); NR-Nick Rumbelow, New York-NL (Sugar Land); *Max Scherzer, Washington (Fort Worth, American Association); NR-D. J. Snelten, Tampa Bay (Chicago, American Association); Robert Stock, Philadelphia (New Jersey; Normal, Frontier); NR-Caleb Thielbar, Minnesota (St. Paul); NR-Nik Turley, Pittsburgh (Somerset, Atlantic); Marcus Walden, Boston (Lancaster); NR*-Aaron Wilkerson, Milwaukee (Grand Prairie; Florence, Frontier; Fort Worth, United League); *Eric Yardley, Milwaukee (Trinidad and Taos, Pecos League).
Catchers (3)—Yermin Mercedes, Chicago-AL (Douglas and White Sands, Pecos); NR-Rene Rivera, New York-NL (Camden, Atlantic); NR-Josh Thole, New York-AL (New Britain, Atlantic).
Infielders (4)—Jose Martinez, Tampa Bay (Rockford); NR-Peter Mooney, Minnesota (New Jersey); NR-John Nogowski, St. Louis (Sioux City); Ildemaro Vargas, Arizona (Bridgeport).
Outfielders (3)—David Peralta, Arizona (Amarillo and Wichita, American Association; Rio Grande Valley, North American); NR-Travis Snider, Arizona (Long Island); NR-Dillon Thomas, Oakland (Texas, American Association).
*First professional game was in an Independent league.
#Designated for assignment; status unknown.
Be on Lookout for Others
Many additional players with Independent playing experience seem certain to see some action in major league exhibition games, including recently-signed southpaws Kyle Regnault of San Diego (Worcester and Quebec, Can-Am League) and Brandon Mann of Texas (Fargo-Moorhead, American Association, and Southern Maryland and Lancaster, both in the Atlantic League).
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