December 6, 2019

Reminiscent of Dramatics of Five Years Ago, Independent Baseball Has Two Major League All-Stars

July 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Independent Baseball will never have the marketing impact of the powerhouse major league franchises when it comes to pushing for All-Star votes, but it still will have some bragging rights when the game’s marquee names gather for their annual mid-season classic at Citi Field in New York next week.

For one thing, the American League likely will trot out onetime American Association (Fort Worth, TX) hurler Max Scherzer, a brilliant 13-0 for the Detroit Tigers this season, as its starting pitcher, hoping to get off on the right foot toward winning the game and its prize of home-field advantage for the World Series.   And, Toronto reliever Steve Delabar, who had to overcome an excruciating broken elbow in the Can-Am League (Brockton, MA) in 2009 and a subsequent year off to recover before turning into a durable reliever (5-1, 1.74 with 57 strikeouts in only 41.1 innings), will be in the American League bullpen after drawing 9.6 million tallies in the highly-publicized fan vote for the final spot on the team.  He also pitched for Florence, KY of the Frontier League.  One of Delabar’s competitors was still another former Independent hurler, Texas‘s Tanner Scheppers (St. Paul, MN, American Association).

The last time the non-affiliated leagues had two players in the game five years ago the duo of J. D. Drew and George Sherrill—both more boastful because their very first professional games were in Independent leagues—stole much of the spotlight.  Drew, who had played at St. Paul, MN when the American Association’s Saints still were in the Northern League and is now retired, hit a dramatic two-run homer with two out in the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium to erase a 2-0 deficit, then walked to load the bases ahead of the winning sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 15th.

Sherrill, just released by Kansas City’s minor league department as the 36-year-old lefty and onetime stalwart major league closer tries to come back from elbow surgery, was every bit as important to the A.L. by striking out Adrian Gonzalez with the bases loaded to end the 12th, then worked two more scoreless innings, which is almost unheard of for an all-star reliever.  ESPN analyst John Kruk was among those who openly felt the MVP award should have gone to the southpaw, who journeyed from Evansville, IN (Frontier League) to current American Association cities Sioux Falls, SD and Winnipeg for more than four full seasons before a major league organization (Seattle) gave him an opportunity.

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 Indy to Have Five in Triple-A All-Star Classic

Further tribute to Independent Baseball will come next week because no less than five of its players will be in the Triple-A classic including No. 1 International League vote-getter Chris Colabello (Worcester, MA and Nashua, NH, Can-Am League), who leads the league in hitting (.357) and runs batted in (72) while staying in the home run chase with 23 round-trippers.  The first baseman will be joined by another Can-Am player, Rochester, NY (Minnesota) teammate Andrew Albers (Quebec) and another southpaw, Kris Johnson (Kansas City, KS, American Association) of the Pittsburgh farm system.  Brock Peterson (Bridgeport, CT,  Atlantic League) will play for the Pacific Coast League.  Catcher Rene Rivera (Camden, NJ, Atlantic) also was selected but has since been called up to the parent San Diego Padres.  Peterson plays in the St. Louis organization.

The Frontier League showcases its youthful talent on Tuesday in Washington, PA.

Oft-Injured Former Indy Star Herrera MVP of Eastern All-Star Game

The most dramatic All-Star home run Wednesday was a three-run blast of at least 420 feet over the high centerfield fence in New Britain, CT when former Independent outfielder Javier Herrera took advantage of touted Boston prospect Anthony Ranaudo’s first-inning wildness.  Batting third and following two walks, the 28-year-old Herrera earned Most Valuable Player honors in the Eastern League contest and a trophy he plans to give to his mother.

“It’s a good thing that I’m healthy and can show people that I am capable of doing a lot of special things,” the San Francisco farmhand told MLB.com.  Herrera, a 12-year pro who was playing as high as Triple-A by ’05, has missed part or all of several seasons with various injuries but urged by his family kept playing and got his latest opportunity after hitting .319-14-78 between Southern Illinois (Marion) and Rockford, IL in the Frontier League last season.  He also had played for Yuma, AZ (Golden League).

   (This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes year round on Independent Baseball.  Forty columns are planned during 2013.  Fans may subscribe at newly-reduced rates at www.WirzandAssociates.com, enjoy added stories on the blog 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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