July 12, 2020

Shuffle Leading to Three Dominant Indy Leagues

October 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

While a last minute change of heart apparently has kept the American Association from becoming a super-sized league approaching 20 teams, it is becoming increasingly apparent when all of the dominos have stopped falling sometime in the next couple of months Independent Baseball will have three dominate circuits.

The non-affiliated brand of professional baseball started this past season with eight leagues and it could have close to that many by the time 2011 rolls around, but the American Association, Atlantic League and Frontier League will be the powers with at least a combined 34 teams.  The American Association will have no less than 14 teams with at least 12 in the Frontier and eight in the Atlantic.  The Association and  Atlantic appear all but certain to add still more teams in another year.

The Can-Am League, once threatened because it had only six members and some of them were not strong, also seems better now.  While more time is needed to solve various issues, it appears the still-threatened Northern League plus the Golden and United Leagues will be no better than weakened versions of what they were this summer, if they are around at all.

These seem to be the major holdups in determining the Independent lineup for 2011:

–Where will the four Northern League teams that have not already gone to the American Association end up, with odds still favoring a move to the Frontier League although only Rockford, IL appears certain to play at all?

–Can the Golden League, which had 10 teams this season, keep even half that number?

–Will the six-team United League be able to patch things up in the Texas cities of Amarillo and Laredo, with both likely ticketed for the American Association at least by 2012.

Who Will Join Sugar Land for New Atlantic Division?

I do not expect a lot of news out of Thursday’s Atlantic League ownership meeting because the ’11 lineup appears set with a travel team replacing Newark, NJ, which moved to the Can-Am League although a great amount of work probably is going on behind the scenes in an effort to develop the desired four-team Southwest Division anchored around Sugar Land, TX.

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www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com ADDED TO www.IndyBaseballChatter.com


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Five Indy Hurlers Get Into Prospect-Laden Fall League

The quality of players—especially pitchers—within Independent leagues has been reinforced one more time this fall in two significant ways.  Five hurlers with Indy experience are in the major league-operated Arizona Fall League, which is primarily limited to true prospects, while at least nine more players have been gobbled up by major league organizations since the season ended.  Six of those also are pitchers.

It is early for statistics to mean a lot within the AFL although Seattle prospect Tom Wilhelmsen, who was at Tucson (Golden League) in ’09 and was a combined 7-1, 2.19 for three Mariners farm clubs after being converted to a starter this season, has eight strikeouts and has allowed only two hits in his first four innings spread over two appearances.

The others include Brandon Kintzler of Milwaukee (St. Paul, MN, American Association, and Winnipeg, Northern League at the time) and Justin James of Oakland (Kansas City, KS, then in Northern), who finished the regular season in the major leagues.  Oakland also has Mike Benacka, who started his pro career at River City, O’Fallon, MO, Frontier League), while Continental League (Bay Area) grad Brandon Sisk is in the Kansas City system.

(This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes year round on Independent Baseball.  Fans may subscribe at www.WirzandAssociates.com, enjoy his blogs, www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com and www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, or comment to RWirz@aol.com.  The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)

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