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Independent Baseball: Niagara New Team for Can-Am League in 2015

The Niagara Professional Baseball Group has been given provisional approval to field a team in the Can-Am League for the 2015 season. They will join the current four team league giving them another Canadian team to go with Quebec and Trois-Rivieres. The league will be six teams as Niagara and Ottawa will both be joining the league next season. Niagara has announced they are also looking for a team name and are looking for help from the public. A name the team contest has been announced via the club’s website. If you have an idea on what the team could be called for its inaugural season you can email or tweet your ideas to the team. The winner will receive some great prizes including a pair of season tickets. Contest ends August 1st. The club has also announced tryouts for September 20th. The tryout is open to anyone interested. It will take place from 2-6pm with pitchers and catchers reporting from 2-4pm and positional players from 4-6pm. Cost of the tryout is $60 per player. You can find the player tryout form and a link for payment here on their website. The club will play its home games at Welland Sports Complex which was built in 1989. The Welland Pirates played there from 1989 to 1994 as apart of the New York-Penn League. For more information on the tryout you can contact Colin at 647-608-8163 or via email at ccumminsATniagaraprobaseball.com

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Is the IBL Shutting Down the Season Already?

It is not an easy task to run a start up business. We see it everyday when different businesses in every town in America go under. It’s even harder to start a professional baseball league. Without the backing of Major League Baseball teams fight for fans on budgets that are razor thin. There have been more unsuccessful leagues over the years than successful ones. However, that doesn’t mean it is not possible to build a product that the fans will enjoy and keep coming back to. There are a few leagues that do just that and this year there was one more taking the plunge to try and add their name to that list, the Independent Baseball League. The IBL is a bit different in many regards. First of all, they play in small towns in Ohio and Michigan. We wrote about it kicking off its inaugural season just two months ago with this post. Secondly, the league does not play every day like many others. Instead the league, of only four teams, plays weekend games similar to how the leagues are set up in many places in Europe. The teams typically play single games Friday, a double header on Saturday, and a single game Sunday. That is all. However, today there was some news that the IBL would be closing up shop after just 12 games for each team. Then the post was removed from the league’s Facebook feed shortly after. You can see a screenshot below. IBL Post

I contacted someone within the IBL but was given no indication of the league shutting its doors or continuing to play. So this may be something that they are teetering on the edge with and have not fully decided. Most of the team websites are fairly up to date. However, the league website itself is not and appears to have some sort of error on it, although that has been there for as long as I can remember.

(H/T to Dan Malley for the screenshot)

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Independent Baseball League Teams with the Most Titles

In my continuing infatuation with independent baseball, I decided to take a look at the most successful teams in independent baseball. There are many ways in which you can determine success, but here I am looking at success in terms of championships.

Now you can argue that some championships are bigger than others, but a championship is a championship. All of these teams won their league title and a few even won in several different leagues over the years. There have been so many different leagues over the years and teams come and go. With that in mind I am only looking at teams that won more than two titles. There are quite a few with a single title, including many teams that no longer exist. There are even many teams with two titles, but over two really seems to limit the teams almost to a top 10.

So let’s take a look at the teams with three titles.

Teams with Three Titles

Fort Worth Cats – The Cats have a long history of baseball in Fort Worth dating back to the first half of the 20th century. The team was revived in 2001 in the independent All-American Association. The league folded after a year and the Cat joined the Central Baseball League winning their first championship in 2005. A year later the team joined the American Association where it would continue its dominance winning the title in its first two years in the league, 2006 and 2007. The Cats have not won a title since, but did reach the championship series of the United League Baseball, their current league, in 2013.

Gary SouthShore RailCats – The RailCats started play in the Northern League in 2002. The RailCats quickly built themselves into a powerhouse reaching the Northern League championship five straight seasons (2005-2009). They would win only two of those five (2005, 2007). After the Northern League folded after the 2010 season, the RailCats joined the American Association where they continue to play today. The RailCats are the current defending American Association champions after having defeated the Wichita Wingnuts in four games in 2013.

Long Island Ducks – The Ducks are one of independent baseball’s most famous teams and with it they have three titles. They are the two-time defending champions of the Atlantic League after defeating the Somerset Patriots in five games in 2013. Added to their titles in 2012 and 2013, the Ducks won their first title in 2004.

Windy City Thunderbolts – The Thunderbolts have played in the Frontier League since 1999. The team won back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008 in the Frontier League. The first title in franchise history came under another name, the Cook County Cheetahs. The Cheetahs played in the Heartland League where they defeated the Tennessee Tomahawks in the championship.

Teams with Four Titles

St. Paul Saints – Arguably the most popular independent baseball team of all-time, the Saints helped build the Northern League. The Saints won the first Northern League title in 1993 and then came back in 1995 and 1996 to claim two more titles. The team didn’t win another one until 2004 just a couple of years before they would jump ship to the American Association where they continue playing today.

New Jersey Jackals – The Jackals began play in 1998 and quickly won the Northeast League title. The following season the Northeast League and the Northern League combined. The Jackals claimed their second title in 2001 defeating the Winnipeg Goldeyes to win their first Northern League title. They would repeat again defeating Winnipeg in 2002. The Northeast League decided to split from the Northern League in 2003. The following year the Jackals would win their fourth and final title claiming the 2004 Northeast League title. Today the Jackals play in the Can-Am League.

Amarillo Dillas – The Dillas existed as a team from 1994 to 2010 playing in different leagues. In 1999 as a part of the defunct Texas-Louisiana League, the Dillas win their first title. After a few league changes the Dillas would put together a powerhouse in the United League Baseball winning three titles in a row from 2008-2010. The team, due to financial difficulties, would disband after the 2010 season.

Teams with Five Titles

Somerset Patriots – Arguably the most successful team due to the league they play in, the Patriots are the five-time champions of the Atlantic League. The Patriots started play in 1998 winning their first title in the leagues fourth years of existence in 2001. This was after losing in the championship the previous two seasons. The Patriots would win again in 2003, 2005, and back-to-back titles in 2008-2009. The team has made the championship nine times, including 2013.

Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks – The Redhawks could also be argued as the most successful team having won five Northern League titles. Their first title came in 1998 just a few years after the Northern League began. A few years later they would pick up their second title in 2003, then again in 2006. The Redhawks would finish out the Northern League (folded after 2010) strong winning the last two titles in 2009 and 2010. They have won 13 division titles including the last two in the American Association where they play today. In their 18 years of existence, the Redhawks have failed to make the playoffs only two times.

Alexandria Aces – The Aces are the franchise with the most titles that no longer exists. The Aces played from 1994-2013. In that span they played in five different leagues including a few seasons in a collegiate league. Their first title came in 1997 in the Texas-Louisiana League. They would win again in 1998 and then turned their sites to the United League Baseball. They would win two straight ULB titles in 2006 and 2007. The final franchise title came in 2009 as a member of the Continental Baseball League.

Teams with Six Titles

Quebec Capitales – The Capitales play in the Canadian-American League where they have dominated. The Northeast League was renamed in 2004 creating the Can-Am League where the Capitales have won six titles since. The team began play in 1999 as a part of the Northern League. Since 2000 the Capitales have made the playoffs 12 times winning 6 titles. They are the five-time defending Can-Am League champions having defeated the New Jersey Jackals in the last three Can-Am League championships.

Perhaps these numbers will change after the 2014 season with nine of the eleven teams still playing.

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Independent Baseball League Stadium Ratings Part 2

We are back with Part 2 of our ratings. This time we take a look at the American Association, United League Baseball, and Pecos League. Not all of the stadiums for these leagues are available via StadiumJourney.com, so we are basing it on what we do have.

There are a few other leagues we did not factor into our ratings. First of all, the Freedom Pro League plays at some of the Arizona Spring Training fields so we did not rank them. The newly formed Independent Baseball League had no stadiums rated via Stadium Journey. It looks as thought they are playing at municipal and local high school fields and if they were in the rankings, they would probably be last based on some of the photos I have seen.

All of the ratings come from StadiumJourney.com. The ratings take into account different aspects including atmosphere, food, and even bang for your buck. Click on any team name to view the Stadium Journey rating for each one, see some stadium photos, and see why each has the rating it does.

American Association - The AA is located throughout the US from Texas to Minnesota. It is one of the more established leauges, but there are rumors a few teams may bolt next year due to travel costs.

Amarillo Sox (3.6) - The Sox play at Amarillo National Bank Sox Stadium. The stadium is old (opened in 1949) and has featured teams in many different leagues over the years. It seems the stadium gets a higher score due to some great fans and good value.

Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks (3.3) - The Redhawks play at Newman Outdoor Field which is also home to the North Dakota State Bison. The stadium opened in 1996 and is better known as “The Nest”.

Gary SouthShore RailCats (3.1) - The RailCats play at U.S. Steel Yard. It holds 6,000 people and opened in 2002.

Grand Prairie AirHogs (3.0) - The AirHogs play at Quick Trip Park which opened in 2008. With a capacity of just over 5,400, this is a nice place to catch a game. Afterwards you can walk on over to Lone Star Park and bet on the horses if you wish.

Kansas City T-Bones (3.7) - The T-Bones play at Community America Park which opened in 2003. With a capacity of over 6,500 it is one of the bigger stadiums in the league but not the biggest.

Lincoln Saltdogs (4.0) - The Saltdogs play at Haymarket Park which is also home to the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The park was built in 2001 and holds 8,500 fans which is the biggest stadium in the AA.

Sioux City Explorers (3.3) - The Explorers play at Lewis & Clark Park which opened in 1993. The Explorers were one of the Northern League teams when the league was reborn in 1993. The stadium has a capacity of over 3,600.

Sioux Falls Canaries (2.9) - The Canaries, formerly known as the Pheasants, play at Sioux Falls Stadium. The stadium was built in 1941 but was renovated as recently as 2000. It holds 4,500 people and is known as the “Birdcage”.

St. Paul Saints (4.0) - The Saints play at Midway Stadium which was built in 1982. It holds a little over 6,300 and is known more for what goes on on the field than the actual stadium.

Winnipeg Goldeyes (4.0) - The Goldeyes play at Shaw Park and is the only team in the AA from Canada. The team has played in Winnipeg since 1994 but only at Shaw Park since 1999. The stadium holds almost 7,500

Average score (two stadiums have not been reviewed) 3.49

Can-Am League – The Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball sits now as just a four team league. The league has two teams in each the US and Canada.

New Jersey Jackals (3.1) – The Jackals play at Yogi Berra Stadium which was built in 1998. With a capacity of just over 3,700, the stadium has seen the Jackals compete in three different leagues.

Rockland Boulders (3.3) – The Boulders play at Provident Bank Park which was built in 2011. The new stadium holds 4,500 people.

Average score (two stadiums have not been reviewed) 3.2

United League Baseball - The ULB is located in Texas with four teams and three stadiums (one travel team). A few of the teams are well established including one that plays on historic grounds.

Ft. Worth Cats (3.0) - The Cats play at historic La Grave Field. It has been rebuilt but on the same spot where many historic figures have played in the past. The stadium is nice, but nothing spectacular, sitting just outside of downtown Ft. Worth.

San Angelo Colts (3.0) - The Colts play at Foster Field which is also home to the Angelo State Rams. Built in 2000 it seats 4,200 and features Triple-A lighting. It is a bit more state of the art than some of the other ULB stadiums.

Rio Grande Valley White Wings (2.3) - The White Wings play at Harlingen Field. It is an older park that has undergone numerous renovations but doesn’t really add anything extra to the equation.

Edinburg Roadrunners (2.4) - This stadium is no longer used in the ULB but was in the past when the Roadrunners played at Edinburg Stadium.

Average score (without defunct stadium/team) 2.76

Pecos League – The Pecos League started in 2010 and features teams in the Southwest of the US in parts of New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado. Most of the parks are city fields and not built specifically for professional baseball.

Trinidad Triggers (2.6) - The Triggers might be most famous for their show on Fox Sports 1 that shows the team in the low minors. They play at Central Park that was built in 1960 and holds 887.

Las Cruces Vaqueros (2.3) – The team and field are no longer used by the Pecos League.

Average score (without defunct stadium/team) 2.6

Final Rankings:

1. Atlantic League 3.65
2. Frontier League 3.53
3. American Association 3.49
4. Can-Am League 3.2
5. United League Baseball 2.76
6. Pecos League 2.6
*Independent Baseball League and Freedom Pro League not rated

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the ratings?

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Independent Baseball League Stadium Ratings Part 1

Independent baseball leagues often get overlooked when fans are looking to spend their  money. However, sometimes they are a great deal and ,depending on the league, there are some really nice stadiums that fans can see. I have been fascinated with indy leagues since reading a few books on them. So I thought we could look at some of the indy league stadiums and see which league has the best ones to visit.

All of the ratings come from StadiumJourney.com. The ratings take into account different aspects including atmosphere, food, and even bang for your buck. Click on any team name to view the Stadium Journey rating for each one, see some stadium photos, and see why each has the rating it does.

Atlantic League – The Atlantic League is generally regarded as the best indy league based on the former MLB talent that the leagues higher salaries tends to bring in. They also have some of the finest stadiums in independent baseball.

Lancaster Barnstormers (3.4) – The Barnstormers play at Clipper Magazine Stadium which was built in 2005. The capacity is 6,000

Bridgeport Bluefish (2.9) – The Bluefish play at The Ballpark at Harbor Park which opened in 1998. It is one of the older stadiums and has the lowest rating among the Atlantic League teams. It has a capacity of 5,300.

Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (3.9) - The Blue Crabs play at Regency Furniture Stadium built in 2008. The stadium holds 4,200 sitting not too far outside of Washington D.C.

Camden Riversharks (4.0) – The Riversharks play at Campbell’s Field. The stadium opened in 2001 since the team’s inception.  It holds just over 6,400.

Long Island Ducks (4.0) – The Ducks, one of the more famous indy teams coming off back-to-back championships, play at Bethpage Ballpark. The park opened in 2000 and holds just over 6,000 people.

Sugar Land Skeeters (4.1) - The Skeeters, one of the newest indy teams, play at Constellation Field. The stadium opened in 2012 and holds 7.500 fans. It also stands as the league’s best ballpark.

York Revolution (3.3) – The Revolution play at Santander Stadium which was built in 2007. The stadium features a retro manual scoreboard and seats 5,200.

Average score (no score for the Somerset Patriots) 3.65

Frontier League – Based out of the Midwest, the Frontier League features fourteen teams and thirteen stadiums (one travel team). The league formed in 1993.

Evansville Otters (4.1) – The Otters play at Bosse Field that opened in 1915. It is the third oldest stadium still in regular use behind Fenway and Wrigley. It was also home to the 1991 movie A League of Their Own.

Florence Freedom (3.9) – The Freedom play at UCMC Stadium. It opened in 2004 and holds 4,500 people.

Lake Erie Crushers (3.1) – The Crushers play at All Pro Freight Stadium which opened in 2009. A newer stadium it holds 5,000.

Southern Illinois Miners (3.6) – The Miners play at Rent One Park. Located in tiny Marion, population 17,000, the stadium was built in 2007 and can hold nearly half of the city with a capacity of 7,000.

Traverse City Beach Bums (3.7) - The Beach Bums play at Wuerful Park which opened in 2006. With one of the best looking entrances, it looks like a beach house, the stadium holds just over 4,600.

Washington Wild Things (3.4) - The Wild Things play at CONSOL Energy Park built in 2002. The stadium hold 5,000.

Gateway Grizzlies (4.0) – The Grizzlies play at GCS Ballpark just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. The park holds 6,000 fans and routinely they place high in the attendance standings.

Joliet Slammers (3.3) – The Slammers play at Silver Cross Field. The stadium opened in 2002 and holds around 6,000 people.

Normal CornBelters (3.3) – The CornBelters play at The Corn Crib. The stadium opened in 2010 and its seems everything there is corn themed. It holds 7,000 fans.

River City Rascals (3.9) – The Rascals play at T.R. Hughes Ballpark which opened in 1999. With a capacity at just over 3,600, the stadium has seen some interesting events including a home run derby between Albert Pujols and Shaquille O’Neal.

Rockford Aviators (3.1) – The Aviators play at Aviators Stadium which opened in 2006. It holds just over 4,200 fans.

Schaumburg Boomers (3.3) – The Boomers play at Boomers Stadium that was built in 1999. The stadium holds a little over 7,300.

Windy City Thunderbolts (3.3) – The Thunderbolts play at Standard Bank Stadium. Built in 1999, it holds a little more than 3,100.

Average score 3.53

Part 2 will be posted tomorrow and will include a few more leagues including the American Association, United League Baseball, and the Pecos League.

What do you think? Do you agree with these ratings? What is your favorite independent league stadium?

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Pro Baseball Tryout April 28 in Riverside, California

Pro Baseball tryout April 28 10 am La Sierra University Riverside, CA

Their will be a professional baseball tryout on Monday April 28 at 10 am at La Sierra University in Riverside, CA. The address to the school is 4500 Riverwalk Pkwy, Riverside, CA 92505 and Regestraion will begin at 9am.

Tryout will be on the baseball field of LA Sierra U. Players will be expected to fill out a tryout waiver and questionnaire at the time of registration as well as a tryout fee of $60 which can be payed check or cash at the time of registration. This helps with the cost and field rental, league fees etc.

This tryout is for all players 18 and older that are looking to play professional baseball for the summer of 2014. The tryout is open to graduating seniors of the 2014 season. If you are worried about your schedule the reason we are hosting the tryout on a Monday morning is because that way we can have the seniors attend as nobody is playing that day.

The Players will be expected to bring their own equipment out to the tryout and dress accordingly in baseball attire. All college coaches are free to join and observe if they would like. Multiple professional Independent teams as well as MLB scouts and Mexico pro baseball scouts have been invited and are looking forward to attending the work out. The tryout will consist of 60yd dash, fielding and throwing from their positions, batting practice, and a live game.

For more information you can contact Chris Paterson at chrispaterson12@usa.com.

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The IBL is the New Independent Baseball League in Town

There is a new league in town, independent league that is. The newly formed Independent Baseball League or IBL for short. Play starts this summer with teams located in Ohio and Michigan.

The IBL kicks off the 2014 season joining a laundry list of other independent leagues throughout the country. The IBL will start with four teams. The locations include Tiffin, Ohio; Marion, Ohio; Adrian, Michigan, and a traveling Ohio team. The league hopes to expand in 2015 into three divisions, but we will have to wait and see how successful it can be.

The area is no stranger to professional baseball. Marion, Ohio was once the home of the Marion Red Sox of the old Ohio-Indiana League in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Baseball extends back to the turn of the century with teams playing in the Ohio State League and other leagues dating back to 1900.

The innagural teams in the IBL will be the Tiffin Saints, Shovel City Crawlers (based in Marion), and two other teams to be named. The league will start play in June with each team playing a 36 game season.

It should be interesting to see if the league can survive like other recent start ups including the Pecos League, which is in its fourth season in the southeast.

For more information about the IBL or its teams, visit the league website at IBL-Baseball.com or check them out on Facebook.

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Sonoma Stompers of Pacific Association Announce Manger for 2014 Season

Press Release Sonoma Stompers

SONOMA STOMPERS INTRODUCE 2014 MANAGER CASEY DILL

Stompers hire former Pecos League manager, Redding CA. native

Sonoma, Calif. April 9, 2014: The independent, minor league Sonoma Stompers Baseball Club formally introduced Casey Dill as the team’s field manager for its inaugural season. Stompers General Manager Theo Fightmaster made the announcement Wednesday.

“Casey is a proven game manager and has a keen eye for talent,” Fightmaster said. “We’re fortunate to have Casey as a part of our organization, and I think the baseball fans in Sonoma County will reap the benefits of his hard work in building a talented, professional club.”

Dill, 30, spent the previous two seasons managing in the Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs, with the Las Cruces Vaqueros (2012) and Las Vegas (New Mexico) Train Robbers in 2013. While with Las Cruces, Dill’s team set the all time league record for total offense. He led both teams to league championship series in consecutive seasons, capturing a Northern Division Championship in 2013 with the Train Robbers. The Train Robbers also set the all-time league record in ERA. In two seasons, Dill owns a career managerial record of 86-57.

“I am honored to be a part of the Sonoma Stompers in our inaugural season. It has already been a pleasure to work with a staff of people who are truly dedicated to the success of the team,” Dill said. “The opportunity to manage a minor league team in a place as beautiful and welcoming as Sonoma is a dream come true.”

During his time with the Pecos League, Dill has promoted 28 players to higher levels of professional baseball, more than any other manager in the league during that period.

Earlier in 2014, Dill managed in the California Winter League, an instructional showcase league for current professional and free agents, located in Palm Springs, Calif.

“I look forward to developing a team of young men who will not only be great on the field, but will also be respected members of the community,” Dill said.

“It’s not often you get the opportunity to create something new and develop it into something great. I look forward to working with our staff and the community as it becomes an integral part of Sonoma and minor league baseball.”

Casey Dill’s email is Casey@stompersbaseball.com.

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Nashville Mayor Proposes Plan to Build New Baseball Stadium at Historic Sulphur Dell

The Nashville Sounds could have a new home in 2015. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean’s administration has proposed a plan to build an $80 million development on the old Sulphur Dell site. Included in the project is $30 million for a new Sounds stadium.

The development would also include a parking garage and a residential development. However, the team is cautiously optimistic.

Plans in the past, including one in 2007 to build a ballpark on the river downtown, blew up. However, under new ownership and with a new mayor perhaps the plan to bring baseball back to the historic site will come through.

Sulphur Dell is the original home of baseball in Nashville. Baseball was played on the site shortly after the Civil War. A field, called Athletic Park, was built in 1870 and a grandstand added in 1885 when the Nashville Americans of the Southern League called it home.

It wasn’t until legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice referred to the park as Sulpher Spring Dell that the name began to change. Eventually it was shortened to just Sulpher Dell.

The field was known for its sloping outfield that had a steep incline all along the outfield wall.

Minor league teams played at Sulpher Dell for years through 1963. The last team to play were the Nashville Vols who played in the Atlantic League in 1963. However, due to poor attendance and financial problems the team was forced to leave.

The stadium sat vacant without a minor league team until it was torn down in 1969. And Nashville was without a team from 1964 to 1977 until the Nashville Sounds came to town.

The talks for the new ballpark are still in the early stages, but the Sounds are in dire need of an upgraded facility who play in the outdated Herschel Greer Stadium.

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Bill “Spaceman” Lee to Play All Nine Positions in Game with San Rafael Pacifics

Bill “Spaceman” Lee is back at it again. The former MLB pitcher with the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos who is known for being outspoken and at times with some “different” ideas will pitch once again for the San Rafael Pacifics.

Last season Lee broke his own record as the oldest man to win a professional game. He set the record in 2010 at the age of 63. Then last season at the age of 65 he threw a complete game win for San Rafael.

This year he is going to once again play nine innings, but in a different style. Lee will attempt to play all nine positions in Wednesday nights game finishing out on the mound.

Lee says it is a tribute to former Major Leaguers Bert Campaneris and Cesar Tovar. Campaneris did the feat in 1965 with the Athletics during the team’s 103-loss season. Tovar completed the feat two years late while playing with the Twins.

Lee was the designated hitter in last nights game going 2-for-4 with a RBI.

The Pacifics play in the Pacific Associaton, an independent baseball league.

Photo: San Rafael Pacifics

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Minors: United League Holds League Wide Tryouts May 11th and 12th

The United League will kick off its season at the end of the month, however there is still time to find a spot on a roster.

There will be a league wide tryout this weekend on Saturday May 11 and Sunday May 12. It will take place at La Grave Field in Ft. Worth, Texas, home of the Ft. Worth Cats.

All league managers will be present with roster sports available for all teams. This is a great way to get exposure and find a spot on one of the teams final roster.

Included in the managers will be the Ft. Worth Cats Jim Essian, a former manager in the Chicago Cubs organization. Ozzie Canseco will also be in attendance as the manager of the Edinburg Roadrunners, and Chris Paterson, who was named to our Top 10 Independent League Managers in 2012, will manage the Rio Grande Valley White Wings.

The registration fee is $150 per player. Registration will start at 8am with the tryouts getting going at 9am.

The 2013 United League season will start May 23rd as Ft. Worth, Rio Grande Valley, and the newest team Alexandria will host their season opener.

For more information, please contact Ron Mondragon at (817) 726-0248 and via Email at rod.mondragon@fwcats.com

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International Players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List – Numbers 41-50

We have finished looking at the international players on the bottom half of the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List. Today we start in on the Top 50.

In case you missed one of the other posts, there are here:

#51-60 International Players

#61-70 International Players

#71-80 International Players

#81-90 International Players

#91-100 International Players

Yasiel Puig, of, LAD – #47

Yasiel Puig hails from Cienfuegos, Cuba having defected in 2012. He is still young, 22, and has a lot of upside yet a lot to prove.

He missed the entire 2011-2012 season in Cuba (it runs during the winter months) after being suspended for trying to defect after playing at the World Port Tournament in the Netherlands. He didn’t sign until late June of last year so he has only a little time in the minors here.

However, this year he started out at Double-A Chattanooga where he has done quite well in just 14 games. So far this year he has hit four home runs and posted a line of .333/379/.648 so far.

He has good speed and shows good instincts but needs to work on his route running a bit. He is still young and learning while becoming acclimated to the US. He has a strong arm and has even drawn comparisons to the likes of Matt Kemp on his athletic ability.

Julio Teheran, p, ATL – #44

Julio Teheran, from Cartagena, Colombia, is no stranger to the Baseball America Top 100. This is his fourth year on the list dropping considerably after a poor 2012 season. After both the 2010 and 2011 seasons, he was ranked as the #5 prospect in all of baseball.

Teheran had a break out year in 2011 posting a 15-3 mark with an ERA of just 2.55 at Triple-A. He got his first taste of the big leagues that year but struggled a bit. His ERA ballooned to over five in 2012 in Triple-A, but has shown flashes of brilliance.

In 2013, Teheran has started the year as the Braves 5th starter and has had an up and down season already. He has the stuff to be a top of the line starter, but hasn’t shown the consistency at the MLB level so far.

Hyun-jin Ryu, p, LAD – #42

Ryu comes from Incheon, South Korea and has been pitching in the Korean Baseball Organization for the past few years where he has been a star. In 2010, he posted a 16-4 record with a 1.82 ERA for one of the worst teams in the KBO, the Hanwha Eagles.

The Dodgers won the bidding for Ryu this past offseason and have already put him into the starting rotation where he hasn’t disappointed. So far in 2013, he is 2-1 with a 3.45 ERA in five starts.

Ryu won’t overpower you with a 95+ mph fastball, but he knows how to pitch and has a good assortment of pitches that he can control. Look for him to be a solid #3 or #4 for years to come with the possibility that he could even become a #2 starter down the line with some more experience.

He is just 26-years old and signed a six-year contract, so the Dodger will control him during his most formidable years.

Oswaldo Arcia, of, MIN – #41

Oswaldo Arcia signed with Minnesota as a free agent in 2007 out of Anaco, Venezuela. He has since worked his way up to a call up from the big league club earlier this season.

He started 2013 in Triple-A and simply dominated in the short time he was there hitting .394 with three home runs in ten games. Since being called up, Arcia has hit a pair of home runs in ten games.

Scouts love his bat and see him evolving into a 30-doubles and 20-homer guy down the line.

It’s unclear how long he will remain in the big leagues, but it appears clear that while he is there, he will play.

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International Players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List – Numbers 51-60

I know we are a month into the season, but that doesn’t change the fact that these guys are still prospects. So we continue our look at the international players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List.

We have looked at the following already:

#61-70 International Players

#71-80 International Players

#81-90 International Players

#91-100 International Players

Now we take a look at #51-60

Gary Sanchez, c, NYY – #57

Gary Sanchez hails from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and is high on the prospect list for the New York Yankees ranking #3 after the 2012 season. The 20-year old catcher has drawn a lot of praise for his defensive abilities behind the plate.

Sanchez has shown some power hitting 18 home runs a year ago splitting time between Low and High-A ball. He has had a good start to the year so far in Single-A Tampa in the Florida State League getting on base at a .356 clip and smashing four home runs in the first 17 games.

Over his career he has thrown out 30% of would be base stealers. Look for him to make the move to Double-A at some point this season, and he could make his MLB debut in 2014 or 2015 if he continues to develop.

Gregory Polanco, of, PIT – #51

Polanco is also out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The  21-year old outfielder had a breakout year in 2012 posting a line of .325/.380/.455 while hitting 16 home runs and stealing 40 bases.

He finished the 2012 season in Low-A ball and was moved up to High-A this season where he is still hitting. So far through 23 games, Polanco is hitting at a .318 clip and has stolen nine bases.

If he continues this pace, he might earn a promotion to Double-A Altoona later in the year. After the 2012 season, Baseball America rated him as the best athlete, best defensive outfielder, and the best hitter for average in the Pittsburgh system.

Coming up tomorrow, players #41-50

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Texas Summer League Announced

With the success of the Texas Winter League, the United League has decided to start the Texas Summer League this July.

The league will give players an opportunity to develop their skills and get instruction from professional independent managers and coaches. So if you are looking to break into the professional ranks and maybe you were overlooked or you just graduated from college, this could be the perfect place for you to get noticed.

The league will run from July 15 to August 7 and at the end of the league the top 5 or 10 players will be selected and placed on a professional team for the final two weeks of the season. All games will take place in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

This is a great way to get started in professional baseball.

For more information visit Texas Summer League

The Texas Summer League is the only league-sponsored summer developmental baseball league. This allows the league to assure the players drafted that they will be added to one of the United League rosters.

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Minors: Rio Grande Valley White Wings Announce New Manager

The Rio Grande Valley White Wings have announced the hiring of manager Chris Paterson for the 2013 United League season.

Paterson has spent the past three seasons managing in the Pecos and Continental Baseball Leagues garnering a pair of manager of the year awards in two different leagues. In 2011, Paterson led the Roswell Invaders to the inaugural Pecos League title. He has also managed in the Arizona Winter League, the California Winter League, the Pecos Spring League, and recently the Texas Winter League.

Paterson played his collegiate years at North Dakota State University where he threw five innings of a combined no-hitter against Creighton in 2008. After graduating, Chris played in several independent leagues before taking his talents overseas.

Overseas Chris played in professional leagues in Germany, Italy, France, and Australia where he maintains many contacts.

While managing, Paterson has also served as a scout for the Tampa Bay Rays and now the Miami Marlins.

Last year, we named Chris to our Top 10 Independent League Managers. He came in at #9 and was one of the youngest managers in the game.

Paterson and the White Wings kick off the season on May 23rd at home against the San Angelo Colts.

White Wings Press Release

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Minors: Ozzie Canseco to Manage Edinburg Roadrunners of ULB

The Edinburg Roadrunners of the United League Baseball have announced its manager for the 2013 season in Ozzie Canseco.

Ozzie Canseco is a former Major League Baseball player with the Oakland Athletics and the St. Louis Cardinals. In addition, he has played professional in Japan and Korea.

Canseco was drafted in 1983 in the second round by the New York Yankees as a pitcher. He would transition to a fielder and make it to the big league in 1990 with Oakland.

In 2000, at age 35, Canseco set the Atlantic League home run record when he clubbed 48 for the Newark Bears.

The Roadrunners will look to defend their 2012 championship starting May 23rd against the Ft. Worth Cats. Edinburg will play an 80-game schedule against five other ULB teams including the Cats, Rio Grand Valley White Wings, San Angelo Colts, Alexandria Aces, and Texas Thunder.

You can find more information about the Roadrunners by visiting www.RoadRunnerBall.com.

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Minors: Rio Grand Valley White Wings Holding Tryout in California

Want to play professional baseball? Here is your chance.

The Rio Grand Valley White Wings of the United Baseball League (formally the North American League) will be hosting a tryout.

The tryout will take place in San Bernardino, California on Sunday April 28th at 10 am. Players can check in at 9 am.

Professional coaches, along with MLB and independent leagues scouts, will be on hand looking to sign players for the 2013 season.

Players will run the 60, take batting practice, throw from the field, and take ground balls and fly balls. Pitchers will throw live and be put on the radar gun.

Selected players may be asked to stay for additional stuff. Players should also bring their own equipment.

Cost is $60 and can be paid at the time of registration. Players will also be asked to sign a liability waiver.

Location:
La Sierra University
4500 Riverwalk Pkwy, Riverside, CA 92505

The United Baseball League will feature six teams in the 2013 season playing in Texas and Louisiana. You can find out more information about the tryouts on Facebook where you can ask questions if needed.

Or you can email the White Wings manager Chris Paterson at ChrisPaterson12@usa.com

Updated: Date and Location changed

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International Players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects List – Numbers 71-80

Before the World Baseball Classic we took a look at some of the international players on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospect List. If you missed those, you can find #’s 91-100 here and #’s 81-90 here. Today we pick up where we left off with #’s 71-80.

Didi Gregorius, ss, ARI – #80

Hailing from Amsterdam, Gregorius was signed out of the Netherlands in 2007 as a free agent by the Cincinnati Reds. At age 18 in the Gulf Coast League, he hit just .155 in 97 at bats, but he didn’t give up there and last season got a taste of the Major Leagues.

He is a defensive middle infielder who was ranked at the #5 prospect in the Diamondbacks organization after the 2012 season. He was a part of the three team deal that saw the Reds, Indians, and Diamondbacks swapping players in December 2012. He is considered one of the top shortstop prospects in the game. It looks as though he will start the year at Triple-A Reno, but look for him to make an impact very soon at the big league level.

Luis Heredia, rhp, PIT – #78

Heredia, who was born in Mexico, is only 18 years old. He pitched the 2012 season in short-season A ball in the New York-Penn League for State College. In 14 starts Heredia was 4-2 with a 2.71 ERA.

Heredia signed in 2006 as a non-drafted free agent receiving a huge $2.6 million bonus from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has a huge frame at 6′ 6″ and 205 lbs, but he is still growing physically at only 18 years old.

He throws hard reaching 96 on the gun, but usually sits in the low 90s. He has good control so far, but he is still young and working on improving not only his fastball but his secondary pitches as well. He has huge upside, but only time will tell.

Look for him to start the year in Low-A ball with the possibility of moving up depending on his results.

Marcell Ozuna, of, MIA – #75

Ozuna, a power hitting outfielder from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, blasted 24 long balls in 2012 in High-A Jupiter in the Florida State League. He also exhibits another sought after trait for an outfielder, speed. He stole 17 bases in 2011 and covers a lot of ground in the outfield. Another tool he has is a strong arm. He has been rated with the best outfield arm in the Marlins system the past three seasons.

However, Ozuna will need to identify pitches better if he wants to continue up the ladder. He has strikeout totals of 116 and 121 the last two seasons, but he is still learning. One thing is for sure, when he hits the ball he hits it with authority.

Look for the 22-year old to spend most of the season in Double-A Jacksonville for the Marlins. He is the Marlins #5 prospect.

Avisail Garcia, of, DET – #74

The 21-year old outfielder from Venezuela got a taste of the big leagues last season with Detroit making the jump from Double-A Erie. And when he got the call, he excelled. In 23 games, he hit .319 in 47 at bats.

He is a solid defensive outfielder with a good arm. Baseball America rated him as the best outfield arm in the Tigers farm system the past two seasons. He has some power and speed and could turn into quite a threat in the Tigers lineup.

Look for Garcia to start the year in Triple-A. A heel contusion put him on the DL a few days ago, so he is a long shot to make the Opening Day roster.

Next up we will take a look at the international players from #61-70.

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International Players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List – Numbers 81-90

Last time we took a look at #91-100 on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List which featured three international players. Today we take the next step down the list with #81-90.

Hak-Ju Lee, ss, TB – #90

Born in South Korea, Lee was signed as a free agent by the Cubs in 2008. He was later traded to Tampa Bay in the deal that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs.

Lee spent the 2012 season in Double-A Montgomery where he put up solid numbers, but the slipped a bit as he moved up against tougher competition. This is his third time on the Top 100 List starting at #92 in 2011. He then jumped up a lot after a nice 2011 season to #44 before falling back to #90 this year.

Lee has a lot of speed stealing 37 bases in 2012 in Double-A and hitting 10 triples. His on-base-percentage fell quite a bit this past season as his strikeout numbers jumped to over 100, but look for him to settle in with more at-bats against the higher competition. He is a plus defender at shortstop and has consistently been ranked among the top Rays prospects for the past couple seasons.

James Paxton, lhp, SEA – #87

Paxton hails from Canada but played his college ball at the University of Kentucky. He is a hard throwing lefty who has averaged more than a strikeout per inning over his brief career. Drafted by the Blue Jays in 2009, Paxton didn’t sign and elected to return to school. However, the NCAA deemed him ineligible due to his contract with agent Scott Boras. Instead, he signed with the independent Grand Prairie Airhogs before being drafted again in 2010. This time he was drafted in the 4th round by Seattle and signed.

In his first season of affiliated ball, Paxton struck out 131 batters in 95 innings. He spent all of the 2012 season at Double-A Jackson where he posted a line of 9-4/3.05 in 21 starts. He throws hard and has a good breaking ball, but like many young pitchers can struggle with his control at times. In 2012, he walked 54 batters in 106 innings. Look for him to get a little more seasoning in the minor leagues this upcoming season.

Yordano Ventura, rhp, KC – #85

This is the first appearance on the Top 100 for Ventura who hails from the Dominican Republic. While Ventura may be small in stature, 5’11″ and 150 lbs, he has shown a live arm and the ability to get hitters out.

Ventura spent 2012 split mostly between Single-A and Double-A, but he posted good numbers at both. In 109.1 combined innings he struck out 130 batters. After his move up to the higher level he struggled a bit, but he is still only 21. For the past two seasons he has ranked #1 in the Kansas City Royals organization for the best fastball.

He will need more seasoning in the minors, but he could have a big future ahead of him, especially if he harnesses that fastball and learns to throw more strikes.

Arodys Vizcaino, rhp, CHC – #83

Vizcaino is no stranger to the Top 100 List as this is his fourth appearance on it. Out of the Dominican Republic, he was once a top prospect with the Yankees and then Atlanta.

He is still  young at only 22, but he has has injury problems. He had Tommy John surgery in March of 2012 and missed the entire season. He has a great fastball, once clocked at 101 mph, and has had a top rated curve ball in every minor league system he has been apart of.

In 2011, Vizcaino got a taste of the big leagues pitching in 17 games for the Atlanta Braves. While he struggled with his control at times (he walked 9 in 17 innings), he also showed how he can be overpowering striking out a batter per inning.

He will look to come back from injury this season and reclaim the form that made him one of the top prospects. He has a strong arm, is still very young, and with some time already in the big leagues he will look to eventually help the Cubs at the big league level sometime in the near future.

Martin Perez, lhp, TEX – #81

Perez comes out of Venezuela and is a highly thought of pitching prospect for the Texas Rangers. At the age of 21, Perez got a taste of the big leagues making six starts in Texas and getting into six other games in relief.

Perez has been talked about for several years now within the Rangers organization. He is a left-handed pitcher with good off speed stuff having ranked at the top of the Rangers minor league system as having the best curve ball and change up and one point or another. His biggest problem it seems so far has been control. He has continually walked more than three batters per nine innings pretty much everywhere he has gone. He is not going to blow hitters away and rack up strikeouts, so he has to learn better control.

Perez has a shot at the Rangers rotation this year if he can come away with a big spring. The team is hurting for starters as a few of their regulars are on the DL with injuries to start the season. He could just make it in as the number five starter if he pitches well enough.If not, look for him to start the year in Triple-A Round Rock.

Next up we will take a look at the international players from #71-80.

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International Players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects List – Numbers 91-100

Today we start a series taking a look at the international players on the Baseball America 2013 Top 100 Prospects List. Today we will take a look at the bottom 10 of the list from 91-100 and see which players were born and raised internationally.

So here we go with the first few:

Leonys Martin, of, TEX – #97

Martin was born in Cuba and signed by the Texas Rangers in 2011 as a free agent. He has been a top prospect in the minors for a few years now appearing on the 2012 edition of the Top 100 the previous season at #79.

He has spent two seasons in the Rangers farm system and has had a little taste of the Major League level as well. In the minor leagues he has done quite well. In 124 games, at all levels, he has hit .323 with 16 home runs and 29 stolen bases. However, he has struggled in his short time at the MLB level. He has appeared in 32 games garnering 54 at-bats hitting just .204.

The upcoming season could be huge from Martin though. With the absence of Josh Hamilton in the Rangers outfield, Martin looks to get a lot of playing time perhaps in a platoon with Craig Gentry in center field. He will get a lot of playing time this spring as they will look for him to be a contributor at the big league level.

Bruce Rondon, rhp, DET – #95

Bruce Rondon is from Valencia, Venezuela and was signed by the Detroit Tigers as a non-drafted free agent in September 2007.

This is the first time Rondon has cracked the Top 100 List, but he is only 22. Last season he pitched at High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A doing quite well at all levels. He is a closer in the minor leagues already picking up 65 saves in five years in the minor leagues. In 2012, he picked up 29 saves in the minor leagues. He is a strikeout pitcher averaging more than one per inning in his career so far, but he has had control problems in the past walking 5.10 per 9 innings over his career.

He has a lot of upside and his future is now. The Tigers didn’t resign closer Jose Valverde and are looking for Rondon to open the season as the Detroit Tigers closer if the passes the audition this spring.

Daniel Corcino, rhp, CIN – #94

Corcino is from Azuna, Dominican Republic and enters the 2013 season at only 22 years of age. He was signed by the Cincinnati Reds as a non-drafted free agent in January 2008.

After spending three seasons in Rookie ball or at the Low-A level, Corcino was moved to a starting pitcher and really took off. In 2011, he spent the year at the Low-A level and pitched well for Dayton going 11-7/3.42 in 26 starts. He made the jump to Double-A Pensacola last year and pitched just as well. In 26 starts, Corcino went 8-8 with a 3.01 ERA over 143.1 innings.

Like a lot of young pitchers he has struggled at times with his control. Over his minor league career he has averaged 3.48 walks per 9 innings. He can miss bats at time as well with his career 8.65 strikeouts per 9 innings.

He will once again get to face advanced hitters at either the Double-A or Triple-A level for 2013 to see if he can continue his success and move further toward a spot in the Cincinnati rotation.

Next up we will take a look at the prospects from 81-90.

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Minors: Pacific Association Announces New Franchise in Vallejo

The Indy League merry-go-round continues as the Pacific Association has announced a new franchise to replace the league’s travel team.

The Vallejo Admirals will take the place of the traveling Sonoma County Grapes. The new team will play at Wilson Park which will receive a facelift.

The team is owned by Redwood Sports and Entertainment, which also owns the San Rafael Pacifics and the Sonoma County Grapes. The group will look for a permanent home for the Grapes for the 2014 season in hopes of having a six team league.

The Pacific Association was formed this offseason after the North American Baseball League folded. The teams that make up the PA were the Northern Division of the NABL in 2012.

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AWBL: Independent League to Expand into Las Cruces for 2013

In the ever changing and exciting world of independent baseball, the American West Baseball League (AWBL) has announced its plans to expand into Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Las Cruces had an independent league team in the Pecos League the past few seasons in the Vaqueros. However, this winter the Pecos League announced it would pull the team out of Las Cruces with the impending AAA team headed to El Paso which is just a short drive away.

The thought behind the move was that the small independent league team couldn’t compete with the AAA team with advertisers thus making the team economically unviable.

The AWBL has already seen some turmoil before playing its first game. The league was slated to have four teams, but before the first pitch was thrown the Yuma franchise pulled out of the league.

One team slated to play in the league will play at a local university where the field has no lights. There was to be a winter program in Yuma, but the league canceled it “due to lack of interest”.

So what does a league do with more problems than teams? Create a franchise two states over when travel is a huge part of the expenses of independent teams. It just doesn’t seem to make much sense. Then again I don’t run a league.

It remains to be seen if the league will actually get off the ground in 2013 or hold off due to internal issues for the 2014 season. No matter what happens, its been interesting so far, and should continue to be so.

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Minor Leagues: Pecos League Drops to Eight Teams for 2013 Season

As we predicted in December, the Pecos League has dropped two teams prior to the start of the 2013 season.

The league had hoped to start the new season with 10 teams, but instead will be going with 8.

The Pecos Bills will be dropped from the league with the possibility of them coming back for the 2014 season. The league was relying on Reeves County to move forward with plans to move lights at Martinez Field, but they did not more forward on a motion for the lights.

The county might approve the motion in February, but that is too late for the league who will start their spring training in early May.

Another issue was that of the oil boom that is going on in the area that is taking up all of the housing. It was brought into question where the league would house players with the housing shortage that is occurring with the oilfield boom.

With Pecos dropping out for 2013, the league will also drop the Carlsbad Bats who were slated to be a travel team for the 2013 season.

Ryan Parent was slated to manage in Pecos. He has since accepted an open coaching position with the Trinidad Triggers. The Triggers and Bills will be merging rosters with 30 players from the two teams becoming free agents.

In addition, Taos will move to the Southern Division to even out the schedule with each division having four teams apiece.

Everyone involved is still hopeful that the Bills will be back for the 2014 season including Pecos League Commissioner Andrew Dunn.

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Minor Leagues: Abilene Prairie Dogs Out in 2013

The Abilene Prairie Dogs will not return to the field for the 2013 season.

The team played the 2012 season in the North American Baseball League’s United Division.

The team played at McMurry University where alcohol was not allowed to be sold at games. This put added strain on the team’s finances and without an agreement in place to build a new stadium, the team decided to cease operations for the 2013 season.

League officials have stated that there is a possibility the team will return for the 2014 season. This will give the league and city time to perhaps work out an agreement for a new home for the Prairie Dogs.

It is still up in the air what will become of the old North American Baseball League. The northern division of the 2012 league split off to for m the Pacific Association. The United Division will likely remain under the NABL name or go back to the United Baseball League name it was under before its merger.

With Abilene out in 2013, the league options are still unclear. The league might start a new franchise in either Brownsville, Tyler, or Del Rio but nothing has been stated publicly.

The league is running the Texas Winter League which starts in a few days, and I would suspect more announcements in the coming days about team locations for the 2013 season.

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