Browse Articles

Independent League Top Prospects

J.J. Cooper -

For the fourth year, we present our survey of the top talent in the independent leagues. After talking to scouts and independent league commissioners and managers, here is the list of unsigned independent leaguers who may deserve a first or second chance at affiliated ball.

Minors | #2009#Independent Audit

Try, Try Again

J.J. Cooper -

Isaac Hess will pick up his glove and head to the mound for the Victoria Seals, just as he has 11 times before. It's everything that had gone on since his last start that may make everything feel a little different.

Minors | #2009#Independent Audit

Nice Move

J.J. Cooper -

As a former big league manager with the Indians, San Angelo skipper Doc Edwards has a pretty good idea of what kind of player he's looking for when he heads to a tryout camp. But he can't take credit for finding Bryan Frichter.

Minors | #2009#Independent Audit

Their Last, Best Chance

J.J. Cooper -

When the final pick of the 50th round of the draft has been called out and more than 1,500 players have been selected, there are still hundreds of players left disappointed. Last year Mike LaLuna was one of them. The shortstop at New York Tech headed into his senior season knowing that he needed to build on a .317/.377/.427 junior season. Instead he slumped to .268/.360/.411 as a senior and watched whatever hopes he had of being drafted disappear.

Minors | #2009#Independent Audit

Bad Time For Indy Ball

J.J. Cooper -

The current recession has cost millions of Americans their jobs and has cost the U.S. Treasury billions of dollars in deficit spending. And as you would expect, it's causing headaches for independent leagues as well. All sports have been affected by the economic downturn, but the effects may be felt especially hard in some of the independent leagues, where the margin between success and dissolution is smaller.

Minors | #2009#Independent Audit

Independent Leagues Player Of The Year

J.J. Cooper -

Two years ago, Patrick Breen thought he was just one good season away from the big leagues. A year later, he was released. But you won't find Breen moping or complaining about being cut loose. Breen may be the only independent leagues player who's actually happy he was in an independent league this year.<br/>

Minors | #2008#Independent Audit

Second Chance?

J.J. Cooper -

Just 13 months after the Red Sox drafted Abe Alvarez in the second round in 2003 out of Long Beach State, he was pitching for Boston, making an emergency start. The lefthander allowed five runs and eight hits while walking five in five innings in an 8-3 loss to the Orioles, but at the time, it was thought to be only a minor setback in what had been a rapid rise.

Minors | #2008#Independent Audit

Landing A Bargain?

J.J. Cooper -

When the Giants drafted Jason Jarvis in the 23rd round of June's draft, it looked like the team was taking a flier on a talented arm, but one surrounded by plenty of question marks. Two months later, the Giants may have gotten a steal.

Minors | #2008#Independent Audit

Always A Chance

Everett Merrill -

If you ever wonder why players will spend years playing independent baseball holding out hope of a future big league career, Alberto Castillo is proof that those dreams can come true. Just a year ago, it would have seemed delusional to even suggest that Castillo might end up in the big leagues. It's along way from independent ball to the majors, but it's even further form the Road Warriors, Castillo's team for much of 2006 and 2007. The Road Warriors were a travel team that spent the entire season on the road, bouncing from hotel to hotel and bus ride after bus ride.

Minors | #2008#Independent Audit

A Rare Swap

J.J. Cooper -

Usually when Southern Illinois (Frontier) manager Mike Pinto loses a player to affiliated ball, it's a case of good news and bad news. While he is helping a player fulfill his dream, which is one of his jobs, it usually leaves a gaping hole in Pinto's lineup. "If I do my job too well (of helping players move on to affiliated ball), I'll get fired," Pinto explained. But this year, Pinto managed to make a deal where it worked out well for everyone involved. He was able to sell one of his players to the Diamondbacks, but get a middle-of-the-order hitter in return.

Minors | #2008#Independent Audit

Second Chance

J.J. Cooper -

For a guy who was moved to the mound because he couldn't hit, Brandon Taylor sure is crushing the ball. Two years after the Cubs moved him to the mound to take advantage of his 92-94 mph fastball, Taylor ranked in the top five of the Golden League in most offensive categories. He was hitting .422/.472/.798 with 10 home runs, 11 doubles and only eight strikeouts in 109 at-bats. With numbers like that, and a rediscovered love of the game it's safe to say that Taylor's days as a pitcher are long gone.

Minors | #2008#Independent Audit