Complete list of independent players who have been sold to MLB clubs this off-season.
American Association (6)
Ryan Patterson – Fort Worth – Signed by Detroit Tigers – Patterson was a star at LSU and four years with the Blue Jays, putting up impressive numbers, which surprised me to see him in indy ball in the first place. In one year in Fort Worth he hit .284/.329/.450, actually slugging below his career average.
Cesar Nicolas – Grand Prairie AirHogs – signed by Detroit Tigers – Nicolas is 6’4″ 230-pound 1B/3B who can mash. He was drafted in the 5th round out of Vanderbilt in 2004, but was let go in 2009 after two years in double-A with the Diamondbacks. He hit .335/.447/.536 in for the AirHogs and should get a legitimate shot at a triple-A roster in 2009.
Chris Garcia – Shreveport Captains – signed by Pittsburgh Pirates – The curious case of Chris Garcia goes like this: drafted in the 15th round out of high school in 2007 by the Angels, Garcia killed the ball in two seasons with the Halos including a .412 stretch in rookie ball and .318 stint in short season-A in 2008. The 22 year old left-handed hitter then bounced from two independent teams, landing with Shreveport and ht .361/.442/.470 while showing he can play a little 3rd as well as 1st.
Tanner Scheppers – St. Paul Saints – signed by Texas Rangers – Not a true independent player, Scheppers was drafted 48th overall by the Pirates in 2008, but didn’t sign, choosing to go play in the American Association to showcase himself for four starts before shutting it down for the summer. Back into the draft he went, this time getting his name called 44th overall by the Rangers. What does a 1-1 record, 3.32 ERA in 19 IP in Indy ball get you? $1.25 million, I guess.
Aaron Crow – Fort Worth Cats – signed by Kansas City Royals – Like Scheppers, only better, Crow was the 9th overall pick in 2008 by the Nationals, but went back in the draft in 2009 with a stint in indy ball in the middle. Unlike Scheppers, Crow dominated – 3-0, 1.06 ERA, 17 K in 17 IP with a 96mph fastball. For the extra effort he got $3 million, $500k less than the $3.5 million that the Nationals offered in 2008. I think we can all sleep easy knowing greed has been punished for once.
Kevin D. Thompson – Forth Worth Cats – signed by Texas Rangers – Another head-scratcher, Thompson played 41 games in the big leagues in 2006-2007 with the Yankees and Oakland, but spent all of 2008 in triple-A Indianapolis, hitting .282/.358/.410. He was released in 2009 after an 0-16 start in triple-A. The 30-year old Thompson hit just .209 in 17 games in the Atlantic League, came to the American Association and hit .238 in 14 games. Clearly and opportunity based on past performance, I guess the same way Mike Hampton keeps finding a job.
Atlantic League (3)
Jason Standridge – Somerset Patriots – Signd by Philadelphia Phillies – Long-time professional pitcher with over 100 innings at the Major League level, Strandridge will get his shot with the Phillies this spring after a fairly average 4-4 record and 5.13 ERA in the Atlantic League.
John Halama – Southern Maryland BlueCrabs – signed by Milwaukee Brewers – The 37-year old lefty will go to big league camp with the Brewers after and 8-1 record in 10 starts in the Atlantic League last season (1.96 ERA in 69 IP). Halama hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2006, but still holds a career 56-48 record at baseball’s highest level.
Nate Bump – Camden Riversharks – signed by Philadelphia Phillies – Bump is a 33 year-old right-handed reliever who made it to the big leagues with the Marlins in 2005, but was demoted to triple-A in 2006 before missing all of 2007. He resurfaced in 2008 as a starting pitcher and went 8-2 in 79.2 innings in Camden last summer; he struck out 41 and walked 16.
CanAm League (3)
Josh Burrus – Sussex Skyhawks – Detroit Tigers – A former first-round pick by the Braves, Burrus hit .282/.365/.481 for Lincoln of the American Association and was traded to Sussex in the CanAm League in the off-season.
Breland Brown – New Hampshire Defenders – signed by San Francisco Giants – A curious signing by the Giants, Breland isn’t exactly young at 25, and isn’t exactly a stat producer in pro ball, hitting .162/.205/.162 in 16 pro games. He found his way to the CanAm League after being released by Evansville in the Frontier League.
Stephen Fox – Sussex Skyhawks – signed by Boston Red Sox – Another curious signing, Fox was recruited by Hofstra, but never was eligible to pitch, instead opting to hone his craft in local men’s leagues. He turned some heads at a tryout camp at 24 years old and ended up going 0-3 with a 3.98 ERA in 40.2 pro innings, including 42 strikeouts and 22 walks.
Frontier League (15)
Erold Andrus – Florence Freedom – Signed by San Fransisco Giants – Andrus is the older brother of Texas Rangers rookie phenom Elvis Andrus. Erold played eight years of professional baseball before landing in Florence in 2009, where he hit .302/.371/.454 and continued to hit in the Venezuela Winter League this off-season.
Preston Vancil – Florence Freedom – Signed by Seattle Mariners – Vancil had a terrific professional debut after going undrafted out of NAIA powerhouse Abilene Christian – going 6-4 in 66.1 innings and holding opponents to a .182 average, including the first no-hitter in Florence franchise history.
BJ Hagen – Traverse City Beach Bums – Signed by Houston Astros – Hagen was a true rookie for the Beach Bums in 2009 after going undrafted out of UNC – Charlotte in 2008. He shined in his professional debut, posting a 2.48 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 40 innings while only opponents to a .178 average.
Matt Gaski – Traverse City Beach Bums – Signed by Minnesota Twins – Gaski had previously played for the Mets and Padres before being released and signed by the Beach Bums this off-season. However, the Twins put in a call just a couple weeks after Gaski agreed to a deal with TC and will bring him into spring training.
John Parham – Traverse City Beach Bums – signed by Seattle Mariners – Parham is a catcher out of Cal. State – Northridge that went undrafted in 2009 following his senior season. The Beach Bums inked him to a 2010 contract this off-season only to be scooped up by the Mariners after an invitational tryout in January.
Robbie Alcombrack – Traverse City Beach Bums – signed by Texas Rangers – Alcombrack was a 7th round pick out of high school by the Cleveland Indians and spent parts of three seasons in their organization before his release in the spring of 2009. Still just 21, the catcher has big league power, a plus arm, and advanced defensive skills behind the plate.
Matt Jernstad – Windy City Thunderbolts – Signed by Chicago White Sox – Jernstad was one of the best starting pitchers in the league in 2009 and was rated the #1 prospect in the Frontier League by Five Tool Prospects at the time of his signing with the White Sox. Last summer, Jernstad went 7-4 with a 2.31 ERA and 97 K in 78 IP while holding opponents to a .192 average.
Zach Piccola – Windy City Thunderbolts – Signed by Chicago White Sox – Piccola pitched in the Tigers organization in 2006 and 2007 before missing the 2008 campaign. He bounced around indy ball in 2009, but landed in Windy City and had success in a short stint, striking out 13 in 9.2 IP, making enough of an impression to get a shot with the south-siders.
Robert Perry – Windy City Thunderbolts – signed by Colorado Rockies – A 16th round pick out of Long Beach State in 2007, Perry got to class high-A quickly, but struggled with a .171 average there in 2009. His mid-season release was the Thunderbolts gain, as he hit .397/.484/.589 in 61 games after coming to the Frontier League. He will get a shot with the Rockies in the spring for his effort.
Arshwin Asjes – Midwest Sliders – signed by Cincinnati Reds – Asjes is a big right-hander who joined the Frontier League in 2009 after going undrafted as a senior at Temple in 2008. He pitches off his fastball with a plus splitter, which is his strikeout pitch.
Cameron Satterwhite – Evansville Otters – signed by Cincinnati Reds – Satterwhite had a down year as a senior at the University of Cincinnati in 2009, which led to him going undrafted and signing instead in the Frontier League. He has several summers of success swinging the wood bat in prestigious collegiate leagues and should be able to stick with a full-season club with the Reds.
Joe Agreste – Gateway Grizzlies – San Diego Padres – Agreste, like Satterwhite, had a good college career at West Virginia, but suffered from a poor senior year and went undrafted. However, the left-handed hitting first-basemen became and instant offensive force in the Frontier League the moment he arrived and will get a chance to prove himself with the Padres this spring.
Ben Paxton – Evansville Otters – signed by Houston Astros – Another undrafted college senior out of Western Kentucky, Paxton had very pedestrian college numbers before impressing at a tryout and arriving in Evansville. Something clicked for Paxton in pro ball as he put up a 1.12 ERA in 40.1 innings.
Nick Hall – Windy City Thunderbolts – signed by San Diego Padres – Hall is an unusual success story. Undrafted out of Northern Illinois in 2006, Hall signed with the Phillies and got beat up in rookie ball, which led to his release after the season. After two full seasons out of baseball, Hall was back in the Frontier League in 2009 with renewed confidence, posting a 2.41 ERA and 59 strikeouts in just 41 innings out of the bullpen.
Jason James – Rockford Riverhawks – signed by Chicago Cubs – Called the “Ted Williams of the Frontier League” by an opposing manager, James spent four seasons dominating the league before getting his shot with the Cubs this year. All the left-handed hitting outfielder has done in those four years is hit .355/.420/.524.
Northern League (1)
Adam Frost – Winnipeg Goldeyes – signed by Kansas City Royals – Frost, 23, was a DIII infielder and 21st round draft choice of the Detroit Tigers as a junior in 2008, but only got 141 at-bats before his release the following spring. He signed with the Goldeyes and proved he can play shortstop on an everyday basis at an advanced level, hitting .280 with 30 stolen bases in the process.