Tag Archive | "Frontier League"

2016 Independent Leagues

With the Major League Baseball season underway and the minor leagues already going strong, I thought we’d take a look at the independent leagues that will get going soon. Every year there seem to be new players and old ones going by the wayside. This year there are still a few strong leagues poised to have strong seasons.

Atlantic League

Easily the most successful league, the Atlantic League has been strong for years featuring many former MLB players. The eight team league has already kicked off the season with the league’s defending champion off to a 14-4 start as the Somerset Patriots continue to field a strong team. The league has also conditionally approved a 9th franchise for 2017 in the Virginia Beach Neptunes.

Frontier League

This coming week the longest running independent league will kick off its 2016 season. The league will feature 12 teams located around the mid-west all the way from Missouri to Pennsylvania. The Traverse City Beach Bums look to defend the franchise’s third title, but the first since the team moved from Richmond in 2006. The league has been going since 1993.

Empire Professional Baseball League

The newest entry into the independent game is the Empire League with four teams from the Northeastern US. The league is a replacement for the North Country Baseball League that lasted a single season. Three of the teams from the NCBL will play in the Empire League this summer starting in June.

Pecos League

The Pecos League is back for its 6th season with teams in the Southwestern USA.  The league will feature 10 teams with the Roswell Invaders looking to defend their 2015 title and third overall.  The league will kick off its season this coming week.

Pacific Association

The Pacific Association is back for its 4th season. The league has four teams around California. The season will begin in just under a month with the San Rafael Pacifics look to defend their 2015 title. The Pacifics are the two-time defending champs.

Canadian American Association

The Can-Am League kicks off its 12th season in just under two weeks time. The six team league looks to build on its experience and the support it has built up in Canada and in places like New York and New Jersey. The Trois-Rivieres Aigles look to defend their 2015 title and first in franchise history. The New Jersey Jackals will look to break through into the championship column after finishing runner-up for the past five seasons. The Jackals have won four championships in franchise history back in the old Northeast League Days of the last 90s early 00s.

American Association

The AA is back as well for its 11th season as the Laredo Lemurs look to defend their title from a year ago. The 12 team league has had some strong teams in recent years and has former MLB talent running several teams including last years champion Laredo with Pete Incaviglia. The league will kick off its 2016 season later this month.

We hope to bring you some updates on the leagues as the season progresses. We intend to take another look at the managers in the different leagues and highlight some of the up and coming stars there. We also hope to bring you some interviews and photos from some of the stadiums as we travel and take in a few games.

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Where Are They Now? Our 2012 Top 10 Independent Baseball League Managers

In 2012 we named what we thought was the Top 10 Independent Baseball Managers. We thought this year we would take a look at where they are now. Who moved up? Who moved down? And who retired?

#10 Steve Brook

Starting with our #10 we take a look at Steve Brook of the River City Rascals. Brook took over in River City in 2010 and immediately led the Rascals to its first Frontier League title. In 2011 he led the Rascals to the most wins in franchise history (68) and a return to the championship where they would fall. Since we profiled Brook before the 2012 season the Rascals fell to 4th place in the division. A third place finish in 2013 was followed by a division title in 2014. Brook led the team back to the championship series after winning 61 games. Brook returns in 2015 for his sixth season.

#9 Chris Paterson

Paterson was named the #9 manager in independent baseball in 2012, but he might be rising even higher. He was just named the manager of the American Association Sioux Falls Canaries. Since 2012 Paterson has added a new league and title to his resume. After managing the White Sands Pupfish in 2012, Paterson moved up to the United League Baseball managing the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings where he won the league title in 2014. Paterson faces a huge task of rebuilding the Canaries after their worst season in franchise history, but he has shown he is capable of doing just that.

#8 Phil Warren

Warren has been at the helm of the Gateway Grizzlies for the past eight seasons. Immediately after we ranked Warren #8 he led the Grizzlies to a Frontier League West Division crown. They would lose in the first round of the playoffs, but the 57 wins were the second best in franchise history. The winning has continued in 2013 and 2014 with a second and third place finish in the West Division. Both seasons the team won 50 or more games.

#7 Eddie Dennis

Dennis was the manager of the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings in 2012, his last season as a manager. He led the WhiteWings to a 51-44 record and a third place finish in the North American League. After being out of baseball in 2013, Dennis became the hitting coach for the Williamsport Crosscutters of the New York Penn League. The Crosscutters are the Class A short season team of the Philadelphia Phillies.

#6 Andy Etchebarren

Echebarren retired after the 2012 season after leading the York Revolution to the playoffs for the third straight season. The former MLB’er changed the culture to a winning one in York taking a last place team to two straight titles in 2010 and 2011.

#5 Doug Simunic

Simunic has won over 1,000 games in independent baseball, mostly with the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks of the American Association. In 21 years at the helm, he has had only two losing seasons but both have come in the past four seasons including 2014. Last summer the two-year extension on his contract was exercised keeping him in Fargo through 2017. Simunic has been the only manager that the Redhawks have known winning thirteen division and five league titles over that time.

#4 Patrick Scalabrini

Scalabrini entered the 2012 season after winning titles in his first two seasons in Quebec. He has since guided the Capitales to two more titles winning four in a row (in his first four seasons) in the Can-Am League. The team fell off a bit in 2014 finishing with its first losing season under Scalabrini and failing to make the playoffs. He will look to right the ship and return the Capiales to their winning tradition.

#3 Sparky Lyle

Entering the 2012 season Lyle led the Somerset Patriots to a winning record in 12 of his 14 years. Unfortunately year number fifteen, which would be his last, finished with a losing record as well. Overall Lyle finished his managing career (all with Somerset) with a record of 1024-913 for a .529 winning percentage. Lyle led the franchise to eight division and five league titles.

#2 Doc Edwards

Edwards has been in professional baseball nearly 60 years. He has managed at the Major League level, in the affiliated minor leagues, and for the past nine years with the San Angelo Colts. The Colts have suffered in recent years finishing under .500 the past two seasons. It remains to be seen if Edwards will manage in 2015. Not because he isn’t wanting to, but the entire San Angelo Colts and ULB are in jeopardy of being extinct next season. The Colts filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last season in hopes of saving the stadium.

#1 Ricky VanAsselberg

Vanasselberg has been winning wherever he has wound up. Prior to 2012 he won the American Association championship with Grand Prairie in 2011 and another AA championship in 2010 with the Shreveport-Bossier Captains. These weren’t his only wins though. In 2006 and 2007 he won back-to-back United League championships with the Alexandria Aces.

Since 2011 Vanasselberg has qualified for the playoffs only once with the Air Hogs losing in the first round in 2013. However, in December he was named as the new manager for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League. Definitely a jump up in competition but it will put Vanasselberg in his most challenging position, rebuilding. The Bluefish have finished with three straight losing seasons including a 47-93 season a year ago.

So in review, two managers have retired, one might be on his way out if his team folds, two moved up in the ranks of independent baseball, one moved to an affiliated team as a hitting coach, and four are still at it with the same teams.

You can go back and view our Top 10 from 2012 here:

Independent Baseball League Managers Top 10 – 1-5

Independent Baseball League Managers Top 10 – 6-10

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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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Independent League Roundup: Frontier and Can-Am League

Frontier League

The Frontier League is the oldest independent baseball leagues still around having started play in 1993. The league is made up of 14 teams broken down into two divisions, West and East.

The league also has 2 of the Top 10 Independent League Managers in Steve Brook and Phil Warren.

So far the Traverse City Beach Bums have a 3 game lead in the East Division, while the Schaumburg Boomers lead the West Division by 2 games.

League Leaders

Javier Herrera (Rockford) leads the league in hitting at a .380 clip. Joash Brodin (London) is second in the league at .371.

Jose Vargas (Traverse City) is the league leader in home runs with 18, while his teammate Jeff Flagg is second with 13.

Jose Vargas also leads the league in RBI with 54. Javier Herrera is second with 51.

Darian Sandford (Southern Illinois) leads the league with 30 stolen bases.

Dustin Williams (Windy City) is the league leader in wins with 7. Seven pitchers are tied with 6 wins for second.

The league leader in saves is Eric Massingham (Evansville) with 13.

Mike Recchia (Windy City) leads in strike out with 80, well ahead of the pitcher in second.

Dan Blewett (Evansville) is the league leader in ERA with a 1.06 in 7 starts.

The league has placed 11 players so far in 2012 with 6 different MLB club’s minor league affiliates.

Frontier League Standings:

East Division
1. Traverse City Beach Bums 32-17
2. Southern Illinois Minors 29-20
3. Florence Freedom 28-22
4. Lake Erie Crushers 26-23
5. Evansville Otters 22-27
6. London Rippers 20-29
7. Washington Wild Things 19-29

West Division
1. Schaumburg Boomers 30-19
2. Windy City ThunderBolts 27-20
3. River City Rascals 26-23
4. Gateway Grizzlies 26-24
5. Joliet Slammers 21-28
6. Rockford Riverhawks 19-29
7. Normal Cornbelters 16-31

Can-Am League

The Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball, or Can-Am League, is in its 8th season of play. The league consists of 5 teams. However, the teams will play an interlocking schedule with the American Association with each team traveling to play the teams from the AA.

The league includes one of the Top 10 Independent League Managers in Patrick Scalabrini of Quebec.

So far the Quebec Capitales lead the league by 5.5 games over the New Jersey Jackals.

League Leaders

Nick Giarraputo (New Jersey) leads the league in hitting at .375, while Ryan Scoma (Rockland) is second with a .346 average.

Keith Brachold (Rockland) is the league leader in home runs with 19 and RBI with 54. Nick Giarraputo is second in both categories with 16 home runs and 47 RBI.

Bryan Sabatella (New Jersey) leads the league in stolen bases with 20.

Keith Brachold also leads the league in runs scored with 51.

Steve Fox (New Jersey) leads the league with 8 wins. Two others are tied for second with 7.

Pat Moran (Rockland) is the league leader in strikeouts with 67. Jeff Duda (Quebec) is second with 62.

Karl Gelinas (Quebec) leads the league in ERA at 2.30. Steve Fox is close behind at 2.39.

The saves leader is Jorge Vasquez (Newark) with 10.

Can-Am League Standings:

1. Quebec Capitales 36-18
2. New Jersey Jackals 29-24
3. Rockland Boulders 27-26
4. Worcester Tornadoes 17-35
5. Newark Bears 17-38

Next up in the Independent League Roundup are the American Association and the Atlantic League.

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Frontier League: 2011 Season Recap

The Frontier League is currently the oldest running independent baseball league dating back to 1993. Teams are primarily located in the Midwestern United States. The league has 2 7-team divisions with each team playing a 96-game season.

The teams for the 2011 season included the Joliet Slammers, the Lake Erie Crushers, Traverse City Beach Bums, Windy City Thunderbolts, Washington Wild Things, and the Rockford Riverhawks in the East Division. The Florence Freedom, Evansville Otters, Gateway Grizzlies, Normal CornBelters, Southern Illinois Miners, and the River City Rascals played in the West Division.


East Division W L PCT GB
Joliet Slammers * 56 40 0.583
Lake Erie Crushers  51 44 0.537 4.5
Traverse City Beach Bums 51 45 0.531 5
Windy City ThunderBolts 48 48 0.500 8
Washington Wild Things 42 53 0.442 13.5
Rockford RiverHawks 37 59 0.385 19
West Division W L PCT GB
River City Rascals * 68 27 0.716
Southern Illinois Miners  58 38 0.604 10.5
Normal CornBelters 46 50 0.479 22.5
Gateway Grizzlies 39 56 0.411 29
Evansville Otters 39 57 0.406 29.5
Florence Freedom 39 57 0.406 29.5
* Clinch Division
 Clinched Playoff

League Leaders

Jake Eigsti led the league in hitting at a .340 clip pounding out 114 hits in 92 games for Rockford. Andrew Davis of Lake Erie finished second just a point behind at .339 pounding out 123 hits in 93 games including 39 doubles and 12 home runs.

Gateway catcher Charlie Lisk led the league in home runs belting 24 round trippers a year after hitting 21. Lisk now holds the all-time home run record for the Frontier League at 113. JT Hall of Traverse City finished 2nd to Lisk with 23 long balls.

Charlie Lisk also led the league in RBI with 94 with Lake Erie’s Andrew Davis finishing 2nd with 87.

Brandon Anderson of Windy City led the league in stolen bases with 53.

Stephen Holdren of River City got on base at a clip of .449 to lead the league.

Southern Illinois’ Will Block led the league in slugging percentage at .610 and was one of 11 with an OPS of over .900.

The leader in OPS went to Stephen Holdren of River City who had an incredible 1.018.

On the pitching side of things, Jake Renshaw of Joliet finished in the lead in wins with 13. Ryan Sheldon of Normal finished second with 12.

Dustin Williams of Windy City led the league in strikeouts with 157, and once again Sheldon finished second with 134.

The ERA title went to Gateway’s Mark Brackman who had a 2.15 mark. Barely behind him in 2nd was Justin Edwards of Washington with a 2.16.

Stephen Holdren (332/21/84) of River City was named MVP for the 2011 season.

Pitcher of the Year was Josh Lowey of River City going 11-2 with a 2.44 ERA .

Pitcher Casey Barnes of Washington was named Rookie of the Year after going 5-5 with a 2.34 ERA in 13 starts. During the season Barnes was signed by the Philadelphia Phllies organization.


The Divisional Series pitted Joliet against Lake Erie and Southern Illinois against River City.

Joliet cruised through their series with Lake Erie in 3 games winning close games each time.

Joliet 5, Lake Erie 2
Joliet 3, Lake Erie 1
Joliet 5, Lake Erie 2
*Joliet advances to championship round

River City dropped game one to Southern Illinois but then ran off 3 straight wins to advance to face Joliet in the finals.

Southern Illinois 9, River City 7
River City 3, Southern Illinois 2
River City 5, Southern Illinois 2
River City 4, Southern Illinois 1
*River City wins series 3-1 and advances to championship round

The Best of Five Championship Round had the two top teams in the regular season facing off with one another. After Game 1 was postponed by a day of rain, River City jumped on top in the series by winning 8-5. River City jumped all over Joliet starter Jake Renshaw who allowed 6 runs in only an inning of work. But it would be the only win for River City.

Joliet came back strong in Game 2 winning a close game 3-1. This time the Joliet starter Tommy Mendoza would go 5 innings allowing only 1 run on 5 hits and a walk to earn the victory. The Joliet pitchers kept league MVP in check as Holdren went 0-for-4. The Joliet bats got a big boost from shortstop Brad Netzel and second baseman Hector Pellot who both hit home runs to power Joliet to the win.

Game 3 was another close victory for Joliet as they pulled it off 4-3 with single runs in the bottom of the 8th and 9th innings. After a sea-saw battle that saw several lead changes, River City went into the bottom of the 8th inning with a 3-2 lead after tying the game in the 6th with a run and taking the lead in the 7th with another.

After Joliet got an unearned run in the bottom of the 8th to tie it, Brandon Peters came up huge with a walk off home run to lead off the bottom of the 9th giving Joliet a 2-to-1 lead in the series.

Game 4 was another close one. This time Joliet would hold off a River City rally to close out the series and win the 2011 Frontier League Championship.

The game was scoreless until the 5th inning when River City got 3 runs in the top half of the inning. However, Joliet came right back with a 3 spot of its own to tie the game. After River City took the lead again in the 6th with a run, Joliet once again scored 3 runs in the 7th to put the game away. Jake Renshaw came back to pitch 5 innings giving up 4 runs but didn’t factor into the decision. Brad Netzel drove in a pair of runs and Ryan Quigley came in to close the door in the 9th to earn the save.

River City 8, Joliet 5
Joliet 3, River City 1
Joliet 4, River City 3
Joliet 6, River City 5
*Joliet wins series and championship 3-games-to-1

The Joliet Slammers won its first title and denied the River City Rascals a repeat championship.

For more information on the league and the 2012 schedule, visit FrontierLeague.com

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Frontier League Announces Awards


Catcher Charlie Lisk of the Gateway Grizzlies, starting pitcher Joe Augustine of the Southern Illinois Miners, starting pitcher Dustin Williams of the Windy City ThunderBolts, and field manager Gera Alvarez of the Oakland County Cruisers headline the Frontier League’s 2010 Post-Season All-Star Team and award winners. The Southern Illinois Miners repeated as Organization of the Year, while Ryan Gates of the Lake Erie Crushers was named Executive of the Year and Drew Saylor of the Crushers won the Fran Riordan Citizenship Award.

Charlie Lisk was voted the Morgan Burkhart Award winner as Most Valuable Player along with being voted the catcher on the All-Star Team for the third consecutive season. Charlie recently set the Frontier League’s career home run record and is currently leading the League with 87 RBI while ranking second with 21 home runs and third with his .315 batting average.

Joe Augustine won the Brian Tollberg Award as Pitcher of the Year. Joe leads the Frontier League with his 1.97 ERA and 121 strikeouts while being tied for third with ten wins on the season and has helped pitch Southern Illinois to their first division title and the top seed in the Frontier League playoffs.

Dustin Williams was voted the Jason Simontacchi Award winner as Rookie of the Year. Williams, who made his professional debut in June out of Oklahoma City University, has a 7-3 record and 2.41 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 100.2 innings for the East Division leading ThunderBolts.

Gera Alvarez won the Rogers Hanners Award as Manager of the Year. Gera has led the Oakland County Cruisers to a club-record 52 wins, a ten game improvement over 2009, and has the Cruisers tied for the East Division Wild Card spot despite their playing the bulk of the 2010 season as a road team.

The Southern Illinois Miners attracted over 200,000 fans for the fourth consecutive season, finishing the regular season with an average attendance of 4,253 fans. The Miners were also host of the 2010 Frontier League All-Star Game.

Ryan Gates has the Lake Erie Crushers in position to surpass the club’s 2009 attendance this weekend. In their second season of existence, Lake Erie has seen increases in both revenue and attendance at All Pro Freight Stadium, and will host the 2011 All-Star Game.

Drew Saylor was honored for his work in northeast Ohio as the Citizenship Award winner. Drew, who also serves as a volunteer coach for Cleveland State University, is in his second season with the Crushers and fifth season overall in professional baseball.

The complete Post-Season All-Star Team and award winners are:

1B – Joash Brodin – Oakland County Cruisers
2B – Gilberto Mejia – Windy City ThunderBolts
3B – Daniel Cox – Normal CornBelters
SS – Stephen Shults – Florence Freedom
C – Charlie Lisk – Gateway Grizzlies
DH – Chase Burch – Traverse City Beach Bums
OF – Stephen Holdren – River City Rascals
OF – Jereme Milons – Southern Illinois Miners
OF – Jason Patton – Gateway Grizzlies
SP – Joe Augustine – Southern Illinois Miners
RP – P.J. Zocchi – Oakland County Cruisers

Morgan Burkhart Award (MVP) – Charlie Lisk, Gateway Grizzlies
Brian Tollberg Award (Pitcher of the Year) – Joe Augustine, Southern Illinois Miners
Jason Simontacchi Award (Rookie of the Year) – Dustin Williams, Windy City ThunderBolts
Roger Hanners Award (Manager of the Year) – Gera Alvarez, Oakland County Cruisers
Fran Riordan Award (Citizenship) – Drew Saylor, Lake Erie Crushers

Coach of the Year – Randy Martz, Gateway Grizzlies
Trainer of the Year – Geof Manzo, Gateway Grizzlies
Groundskeeper of the Year – Ben Young, Gateway Grizzlies
Newspaper of the Year – The Daily Republican (Marion, Illinois)
Writer of the Year – Steve Millar, SouthtownStar (Tinley Park, Illinois)
Broadcaster of the Year – Joe Pott, Gateway Grizzlies
Clubbie of the Year – Denny Dame, Traverse City Beach Bums
Executive of the Year – Ryan Gates, Lake Erie Crushers
Organization of the Year – Southern Illinois Miners
Umpire of the Year – Tony Maners

Voting for awards was done by general managers, coaching staffs, and local media in all 12 Frontier League markets.

The Frontier League concludes its 18th season this weekend, with Divisional Series playoff games beginning on Thursday, September 9. More information can be found at www.frontierleague.com.

Source: FrontierLeague.com

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