August 5, 2021

Two-Thirds of Players Who Start in Independent Play And Reach the Majors Are Pitchers

March 5, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Among all players who would like to be the next success story by playing their first professional game in an Independent league and later making it to the major leagues, pitchers Aaron Crow, Pete Parise and Tanner Scheppers have to be the three leading candidates.

It is pretty basic reasoning since they are in big-league spring training camps.  And, hurlers have dominated right along with 22 of the 33 fortunate enough to make this major climb since 1993 working 60-feet, six-inches from home plate.  Seven infielders, three outfielders and one catcher (Chris Coste) also have experienced the dream every player to turn pro in a non-affiliated league has when he starts.

If Parise, the fast-rising non-roster reliever with St. Louis by way of Slippery Rock, PA reaches the pinnacle this season as some feel he will, he will become the 12th man who debuted in the rookie-laden Frontier League to achieve the goal.  Crow or Scheppers would give the still-young American Association its third player.  Crow is on Kansas City’s 40-man roster while Scheppers is a non-roster invitee with Texas.

After the Frontier League, the Northern League gets credit for starting seven players on their way to the majors and the Atlantic League, which caters largely to more experienced players, has supplied four people to the list.

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What Is Next for Edwar Ramirez?

The saddest news for an Indy player early in spring training came when the World Champion New York Yankees designated Edwar Ramirez for assignment.  The story could have a silver lining in that it happened so early, and with teams always searching for pitching the change-up artist could well land elsewhere.  Ramirez’s tendency to lose the strike zone, and the Yankees’ depth had cost the soon-to-be 29-year-old his bullpen job in the Bronx last season.

Ramirez, who Independent Baseball rescued after he twice had been released by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, got into 98 games in the majors between 2007-09, going 6-2 with two saves, but he struggled with a 5.73 earned run average in 20 appearances last season.  His change was mastered in large part during his stints with Pensacola, FL (then in the Central League, now in the American Association, and Edinburg, TX (United League).

It is not out of the question that Ramirez could come back into the Yankees’ organization, as Greg Burke did with San Diego, but a change of scenery would seem to be better for him.  Burke had more reason to go back to the Padres even though this right-hander, who started his professional journey in the Atlantic League (Atlantic City, NJ), had to settle for a non-roster invitation to spring training.  Manager Bud Black knows what Burke can do based on his 48 bullpen appearances in his rookie National League season last year when the youthful (27) hurler limited right-handed hitters to a .206 average as he compiled an overall 3-3, 4.14 record.

Calling All Houston Suburbs

The Houston suburbs, very thickly populated, seem to be a new hotbed for potential Independent Baseball franchises.

Both the Eastern-based Atlantic League and the sprawling American Association have expressed interest in establishing a new franchise in Sugar Land, and perhaps 60 miles away the American Association is trying to get into Montgomery County. The Atlantic League would seem to have the initial lead in Sugar Land, if it really wants to stray that far west, in that multiple team owner Peter Kirk’s Opening Day Partners has won out for an exclusive 90-day negotiating period.

“In this 90-day period, we will go out and survey all the leagues and find which is the best,” Kirk told The Houston Chronicle. “The two most obvious right now are the Atlantic League and the American Association.”  Joe Klein, the Atlantic’s executive director, visited Sugar Land, the newspaper reported, while American Association Commissioner Miles Wolff was quoted as saying “we are very interested in Sugar Land.  The plans make it look like a great facility, and there would be teams (in our league) in close geographic range.”  Wolff’s league has three teams in Texas and Shreveport-Bossier in Louisiana. The target date is said to be 2012.

Meanwhile, Ventura Sports Group, which already has the Association teams in Grand Prairie (Dallas area) and El Paso, has the rights to work on Montgomery County.  In both areas, a new ballpark would be part of a larger complex.

(This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes on Independent Baseball.  Fans may subscribe at, enjoy his blogs, www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball and, or comment to  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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