September 20, 2021

Independent Baseball Season Fires Up Next Week With Three More Leagues Starting Play

May 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Joe Calfapietra is one of the real veterans among the 32 Independent Baseball managers preparing teams to open the season in one week (May 17) when the Can-Am League, American Association and Frontier League hear the “Play Ball” cry.

The 42-year-old New Jersey Jackals skipper has had time to develop a plan for building a roster since this will be his 10th season at Yogi Berra Stadium in Little Falls and his 13th overall in leading an Independent team.

“I like guys just out of an (major league) organization”, Calfapietra said, “and guys who have an opportunity to get re-signed” as opposed to longtime Indy vets with little chance of going elsewhere.  That’s why the Jackals return only six players from the team that went to the Can-Am finals last year, and it likely has a bearing on their ability to get players to the majors.

Baltimore reliever Stu Pomeranz is the fourth New Jersey player to land in the big time along with current Arizona reliever Craig Breslow, first baseman-DH John Lindsey (now in Mexico) and another southpaw, Raul Valdes, who could get another shot from Philadelphia’s top farm club, Lehigh Valley (Allentown, PA), where he has struck out 26 International League hitters in 21 innings while issuing only one walk.  The Cuban is 2-1 with a save and a 3.86 earned run average.

By perusing New Jersey’s roster, it is not difficult seeing others who could get attention from the major leagues since it has former American League Rookie of the Year Angel Berroa at shortstop, major league southpaw Matt Chico (40 career starts) and young righties Zach Woods and Jimmer Kennedy, who Baseball America tabbed last fall as the No. 9 and 10 best prospects, respectively, in Independent Baseball.

Three new franchises will debut next week with the Laredo (TX) Lemurs in the American Association and both the London (Ontario) Rippers and the Schaumburg (IL) Boomers in the Frontier League.

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 Bridgeport, Nettles in Atlantic League Spotlight

Willie Upshaw’s Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish have been the class of the Atlantic League so far, stretching their record to 10-4 in a 40-hit, 15-11, 11-inning daytime marathon at Southern Maryland (Waldorf) Thursday, but they are being challenged for attention by the continued assault on the league record book by Somerset, NJ third baseman Jeff Nettles.

Nettle, whose dad, Graig, did his own headline-making as a superb major league third baseman,  claimed the all-time hit leadership (934) Wednesday and broke the marks for games (881) and at-bats (3,258) a few days earlier.  He also is the all-time best in RBI (597) and doubles (198) and is within 13 of Glenn Murray’s record of 158 home runs although he is off to a slow start with a homerless .154 average for 13 games.

Now Starting, Savage Runs Albuquerque Record to 6-0

Will Savage will not be compared to Bob Gibson or Randy Johnson when it comes to strikeouts, but presuming wins are still most important the Los Angeles Dodgers surely are taking note of the 6-0 record the 27-year-old has posted for Triple-A Albuquerque, NM.

The 2009 Wichita (KS) Wingnuts (American Association) starter, who also worked briefly for Lancaster, PA in the Atlantic League, was moved from the bullpen into the rotation four starts ago for the Isotopes.  He has gone 3-0, 3.80 to bring his overall earned run average in the light air ofAlbuquerque to 3.22.

(This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes year round on Independent Baseball.  Fans may subscribe for 2012 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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