September 26, 2021

Independents May Have Most Major Leaguers Ever in ’11

July 21, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Well-Traveled Hurler DeLaRosa Helps Independents Edge Closer to All-Time High for Most Major Leaguers

The door has swung completely open for Independent Baseball to claim perhaps its most important achievement before the season ends.  This could go down as the summer when the greatest number of players made it to the major leagues.  After all, is that not the goal of virtually every player.

It became apparent this milestone could be reached when three more players who have toiled in the non-affiliated ranks pulled on a major league uniform for the first time this year in the last six days.

This brought the 2011 count to 31, which is one more than all of last season and within four of equaling what is believed to be the high water mark of 35 in ’08.  The total was 28 in 2009 and 24 in ’07, 31 in ‘06.

The story gets so much better because the most recent promotion was to a well-traveled veteran of three different Independent leagues during four separate seasons who is in the big time for the very first time.  Right-handed pitcher Dane DeLaRosa, who stretches to 6-foot-7 and something around 250 pounds, joined the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen Tuesday night during a series at Tropicana Field. His debut 24 hours later against the New York Yankees, who drafted and signed him when he was barely 19 in ’02, was shaky with two walks resulting in two runs during his 19-pitch appearance.  But that is hardly the point.

Before DeLaRosa, it was catcher Eliezer Alfonzo (St. Paul, MN, Northern League) joining Colorado and lefty reliever Randy Williams (Edinburg, TX, United League) becoming the latest addition to Boston’s bullpen.  Those were significant promotions to be sure, but both of those players have been in the majors on various other occasions with different teams.

DeLaRosa truly paid his dues, pitching in what then was the Golden League in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 (Yuma, AZ, Long Beach, CA, Orange County, CA) and Victoria, BC), then with El Paso, TX (American Association) and Southern Maryland (Atlantic League) also in ’09 before the Rays purchased his contract.

62 Await Call From Triple-A

While we are counting noses for milestone purposes, the likelihood of breaking the previous high for Independent players playing in the majors in a single season is enhanced by the fact the Insider’s exclusive records currently list another 62 Indy grads at the Triple-A level.

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Rookie Manager Bill Buckner Still Learning as Team Sizzles

Now that Bill Buckner has had half a season to adjust to managing it seems apparent the 61-year-old rookie skipper is just as adept as he was at swinging a bat during his 22-year major league playing career.

Buckner’s Brockton (MA) Rox (30-20) have reeled off 13 victories in their last 14 games, including four straight in the Can-Am League’s second half, putting themselves in great position for the four-team playoffs in September whether they catch the dominant Quebec Capitales for the best overall record or not.  The Rox have a solid 3.76 team earned run average and a more sturdy .300 team batting average, thanks in big part to left-handed hitters in the top three positions in a productive order (Chris Valencia, Mike Torres, Keith Brachold).  This must bring some music to the ears of the southpaw-hitting manager, who had 2,715 career hits.

“I didn’t know what to expect (in Independent Baseball),” Buckner said this week.  “I’ve learned a lot.”  He has learned—been reminded may be more accurate—“90 per cent of this job is handling pitchers and being prepared.”  He mentioned the need to keep his 12-man staff fresh and at the same time giving each hurler enough work.

“I’ve (also) got to pay attention and be thinking”, the California native added.  He used the example that where he previously might be thinking of what he could work on with a hitter the next day (as was the case when he was hitting coach for the Chicago White Sox in 1996-97) he now must be concentrating on where to position his players during the ninth inning of a tight game.

(This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes year round on Independent Baseball.  Fans may subscribe at newly reduced rates at, enjoy his blogs, 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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  1. […] Independents May Have Most Major Leaguers Ever in ’11: As Seamheads’ Bob Wirz notes, 31 major-leaguers in 2011 are indy league alums, just 4 shy of the record set in 2008. […]

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