Independent Leagues Newsbeat
Saturday, September 06, 2014
The man who persuaded Americans to buy millions of Hurricane Mops, Slice-O-Matics, Pocket Hoses and other household gadgets advertised in infomercials thinks he can do something other New Jersey entrepreneurs have failed to do - sell tickets to baseball games at Newark’s Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium.
Wednesday, September 03, 2014
Two years ago (October 16, 2012 to be exact) I was listening to Chelsea Peretti’s podcast when an anonymous 24-year-old caller named “John” told her the story of how his once-promising baseball career went downhill and he blew through his $210,000 signing bonus after being drafted by the Mets out of high school… I did a little internet detective work and discovered the caller was 24-year-old right-hander John Holdzkom, a former Mets fourth-round draft pick who at the time was pitching for them at Single-A. They later released him and Holdzkom had to play independent ball just to keep his dream alive.
He pitched for two different independent league teams this year alone, but then the Pirates signed him and sent Holdzkom to Double-A. He thrived there, kept pitching well following a promotion to Triple-A, and then got the call up to the big leagues as part of September roster expansion.
Last night Holdzkom, now 26 years old, made his MLB debut. And it was a helluva debut, too: He struck out all three batters he faced in a scoreless eighth inning against the Cardinals…
I just hope Holdzkom calls back in to Chelsea Peretti’s podcast to update his story.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Hopefully Laredo has some sidearmers. (And hopefully the Lemurs have guys named Joey.)
Twenty-eight years ago, Pete Incaviglia went straight from the campus of Oklahoma State University into the cleanup spot in the Rangers’ Opening Day lineup. He never spent a day in instructional league. Incaviglia never rode the buses. He never caught the 5:30 a.m. connecting flights to get from one Minor League city to another.
Now look at him. Incaviglia knows all about bus rides, and meal money that can barely cover the cost of coffee, much less meals.
Incaviglia is the manager of the Laredo (Texas) Lemurs in the independent American Association… And on Wednesday night, the Lemurs clinched an American Association playoff spot for the second time in three years, earning the Wild Card berth with five games remaining in the regular season…
Incaviglia was so intent on going directly to the big leagues that after Montreal made him the eighth overall Draft pick in 1985, he refused to sign without a guarantee. The Expos declined and then traded his rights to the Rangers, who signed him. That led to Major League Baseball adopting what is known as the “Incaviglia Rule,” which forbids a team from trading a Draft pick until one year after he signs his first pro contract…
Incaviglia played 12 years in the big leagues, the first five with the Rangers. He hit 206 home runs during his time with the Rangers, Tigers, Phillies, Astros, Orioles and Yankees… the Dallas-Fort Worth area native took a job as manager of the Grand Prairie Air Hogs in 2008, leading them to the American Association championship in ‘10. After that season, the Grand Prairie ownership bought the American Association franchise in Shreveport, La., and moved it to Laredo. Incaviglia decided to make the move with them.
The players in independent baseball don’t get rich. They all need offseason jobs so they can pay bills. However, they all have the dream to playing in the big leagues, and Incaviglia wants to help them achieve their dream… It’s something Incaviglia never even thought about when he came out of Oklahoma State.
It’s something that, nearly three decades later, consumes his life.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Ugh, I’d rather reminisce about “underrated OBP guy” than “nearly killed someone”, but, here we are.
You may remember when former major league infielder Jose Offerman attacked two players with a bat while he was a member of the independent Long Island Ducks back in 2007. One of the victims was catcher Johnathan Nathans of the Bridgeport Bluefish, who was hit on the side of his head by Offerman. Nathans sued and the result is in today:
The jury in the two-week-long bat-attack trial of Jose Offerman awarded the victim, former Bluefish catcher Johnathan Nathans $940,000 in damages.
... Nathans, whose career was ended by his injuries, had sought nearly $5 million in damages. He claims the attack has left him permanently disabled with vertigo, splitting headaches, nausea and other problems.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Searching for grit mostly just turns up dirt, but it can occasionally unearth a gem.
Chris Carminucci, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ coordinator of independent league scouting… is why the fourth-place Diamondbacks can claim one of the best stories in baseball this season: David Peralta, the effervescent 27-year-old rookie outfielder from Venezuela…
Peralta, who made his major-league debut June 1, is now the Diamondbacks’ everyday right fielder and No. 3 hitter… Peralta’s .793 OPS ranks among the top 30 major-league outfielders who have at least 250 plate appearances this year… Peralta’s pro baseball career began as a pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals’ system. He was released in 2009 after two shoulder surgeries, having never made it out of rookie ball. But Peralta went home to Venezuela, transformed himself into a position player and returned to the U.S. in 2011… As the ‘12 season wore on, two of Carminucci’s contacts with a rival team in the American Association —Laredo Lemurs manager Pete Incaviglia and pitching coach Bill Bryk Jr.— reaffirmed his original assessment of Peralta: He’s a good ‘A’ ball player if you need one... “He was calling me every three or four days: ‘I was 2 for 3 with a double. I went 3 for 4,’ ” Carminucci remembered… Finally a roster spot opened at Class A Visalia, and the Diamondbacks purchased Peralta’s contract. He had his second chance at affiliated ball—and responded with a .346 batting average in 51 games…
Added to the roster for a spring game because the Diamondbacks needed an extra outfielder, Peralta grounded a single up the middle and hustled to second on a momentary bobble by the center fielder… That one play in spring training stood out in our GM’s eyes, and it stuck with him all year.” [said Carminucci]...
In contrast to massive amateur scouting departments that cost upwards of $4 million per year— before signing bonuses— only a handful of major-league organizations employ a full-time independent league scout like Carminucci.
Perhaps more of them should.
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