Tag Archives: Black Sox Baseball

Fall/Winter Leagues… Is One Right For You?

More and more instructional baseball leagues are popping up every year.

These leagues are all competing for players to play for them (and give them their money).

Over the last few years, some of these instructional leagues have been starting to “educate” players by saying something negative about the other leagues. If you look on social media, you can see people associated with a lot of these leagues arguing about who is better…. and why you should give them your money instead of giving it to some other guy.

Some leagues have even banned players from playing in their league if the player went to a different winter league.

Every year towards the end of the regular season for indy ball, I always get the question… should I go to a fall or winter league during the off season? What one is right for me? Are they really worth the money?

While I can’t answer those questions for every player, I do want to make players aware of everything that’s out there and give nothing but a comprehensive list of facts including: when/where the leagues are held, what associations they have with other leagues or scouts/coaches, and the costs since these leagues can be VERY pricey.

Please keep in mind, that you should also take lists of “signed players” that these winter leagues put out with a grain of salt. The majority of the time, these players are only signed for spring training, or have already landed on a team thanks to their own hard work and the instructional leagues take credit because they were there to get extra reps in.

The following information was gathered through the various leagues’ websites.

Black Sox Pro Baseball League

When:
All the time.

Where:
All across the country.

Cost:
Varies. No set “cost.”

Affiliation(s):
No actual affiliation. Plays games against affiliated teams as well as independent leagues (Atlantic, Frontier, American, Can-Am, and Pacific).

Additional Info:
The Black Sox are different than anything else on this list. It isn’t actually a winter league. It also doesn’t have a set cost that they charge each player.

Joe Torre runs the Black Sox Pro Baseball League. Torre puts together various teams all around the country including teams in New Jersey and Florida as well as teams that travel during independent league spring training.

The teams are made up of players looking to get in at bats and innings playing against established teams. This helps give players exposure to managers and coaches who can get a feel for how the players play in real game situations.

Find more information on the Black Sox on their Official Website. 

This season, a few member of the Black Sox wrote a guest blog for the site –  Guest Bloggers – The Black Sox Series.

In addition, here is an inside look of my interaction with the Black Sox team when they came to town for our education day – Education Day with the Black Sox.

California Winter League

When:
Players Report- January 22nd.
MLB workouts – January 23rd and 24th.
Season – January 25th to February 18th.

Where:
Palm Springs Stadium Complex, California.

Cost:
$3,300 pay in full or $3,500 with $1,000 deposit until Oct 1st
$3,400 pay in full or $3,500 with $1,000 deposit until Nov 1st
$3,500 after Nov 1st

Limit 2 discounts per player

$750 discount if player provides their own housing and meals
$200 professional discount
$1,000 deposit due upon registration (no refunds will be issued on deposits for any reason)
Balance due 1/1/18
Payment plans available

What’s Covered:
Lodging
Two meals per day – Combination of restaurant vouchers and catered meals at the stadium
Local transportation to training facilities for entire length of league
Catcher’s gear will be provided (if needed)
Players are responsible for their own transportation to and from Palm Springs, California
MLB alumni player/coach instruction
Current Independent League managers and MLB scouts looking to sign players
Game action
Uniforms (Pants, Jersey, Hat, Belt, Socks, Workout Shorts, Workout Shirt)
Equipment (Bats, Balls, Helmets)
Locker room facility
Laundered uniforms daily
EOS Fitness membership for the duration of the league

Affiliation(s):
Frontier League.

In addition to an agreement with the Frontier League, the league also states that “the CWL has instructors and coaches from the following Independent Professional Baseball Leagues: Frontier League, American Association, Can-Am League, Atlantic League, United Shore Professional Baseball League and Pacific Association; all of which, came with contracts in hand, ready to sign players who stood out.”
Two days of MLB scouted workouts are also held.

Additional Info:

Why The CWL? – Official Website.

CWL Signings Mid-Season Update – Indy Ball Island.

Registration: 2018 Registration Form Link

Arizona Winter League

When:
Players Report – January 30th.
Spring Training – January 31st and February 1st. Followed by a practice day.
Games Start – February 3rd.
Players Depart – February 26th, 2018

Where:
Ray Kroc Baseball Complex (Yuma, Arizona)

Cost:
Regular Registration: $2,500
Regular in Full: $2,250 (Register in Full by 12/31/17 and get $250 off of the regular rate)
Returning Player Registration: $2,000 (any former player of the AWL, TWL, and TSL)
Local Rate: $500 (players who will not need housing and meals)
Deposit Option: $500 (secure your spot, balance of $2,000 due by January 1st, 2018)

What’s Covered:
Hotel (2 players per room)
2 meals per day (Breakfast and Lunch)
Gym access
Uniforms
Bats (Each team is issued a certain amount of bats)
Catcher’s gear (it is recommended that you bring your own catcher’s gear)
Transportation to and from the stadium and hotel
Airport Pickup in Yuma
Each player will receive hands-on instruction from professional managers and coaches
The AWL will provide an on-site trainer
Player Stats provided by Pointstreak

Affiliation(s):
Coaches from the Atlantic League, American Association, and the Frontier League are listed as instructors.

Additional Info:
Arizona Winter League FAQs – Official Website.

Registration: 2018 AWL Registration Link

Desert League

When:
The season runs from January through March

Where:
Arizona

Cost:
Five-Day Training Camp Guarantee – This option is only available to the first 50 players that register. Each player will be guaranteed a full five days in camp. This will give you plenty of time to impress the coaches and hopefully earn a roster spot.

  • $399 fee for returning Desert League players or players with previous pro experience.
  • $599 fee for players without any professional experience. Players are responsible for their own travel and housing expenses.
  • $200 deposit holds your spot at training camp and locks in early bird fee.

Tryouts are also being held around the country with varying costs from $80 to $100.

Players that make a team in the Desert League are paid.

Affiliation(s):
The Desert League is it’s own league that pays their players. They also work on getting guys signed to higher independent leagues for their regular seasons or Mexican pro leagues.

Additional Info:
Last year, the Desert League had their first season. They went through some issues with the fields that changed schedules. They also had some issues with housing and pay, but in the end, all players were safe, housed and did receive payment. It wasn’t always smooth, but it operated and is ready to come back for another season.

What is Going on with the Desert League – Indy Ball Island (Oct. 2016).

Registration: 2018 Training Camp Information/Registration

Desert League Developmental League

When:
January through March (the same time as the Desert League).

Where:
Arizona

Cost:
$1999 – Extended camp/Developmental League
$500 deposit to lock in early bird fee – Extended camp/Developmental League

Your housing is included in the price $1999. Local players not requiring housing fee is $1000.

Affiliation(s):
Desert League

Additional Info:
“Extended training camp and Desert League Developmental League. This 21-day option includes housing. The first five days players will attend training camp for a chance to make a Desert League team. After training camp if the player does not make a team, rather than being released and sent home, the player will be assigned to our developmental league where they will practice and/or play daily in a professional environment and have a chance to be “called up” to our professional (paid) league. This offers players their best chance to get their foot in the door of professional baseball. If a player gets hurt or is released Desert League managers will be required to replace that player with a player from the developmental league.”

Registration:  2018 Training Camp Information/Registration

Hudson River League

When:
November 1st – 20th

Where:
Houston, TX

Cost:
$1,250 without housing, $2,000 with housing.

Affiliation(s):
Pecos League

Additional Info:
The Hudson River League is the only affiliated developmental winter baseball league, sponsored by the professional independent Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs.
The Hudson River League is the lowest cost Developmental League starting as low as $1250 per player for three weeks of baseball. At the end of the Hudson River League players will get signed with realistic chances of making clubs they are signed to.

Registration: Register for the Hudson River League on their Official Website. 

 

Pecos League Spring League

When:
March 5th – 28th.

Where:
Houston, TX

Cost:
$1,250 without housing, $2,000 with housing.

Affiliation(s):
Pecos League

Additional Info:
The Pecos Spring League is the only affiliated developmental spring baseball league, sponsored by the professional independent Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs. 
The Pecos Spring League is the lowest cost Developmental League starting as low as $1250 per player for three weeks of baseball. At the end of the Spring League players will get signed with realistic chances of making clubs they are signed to.

Registration: Register for the Pecos Spring League on their Official Website.

“Warning to players about Winter Leagues.” – Pecos League press release.

Puerto Rico Instructional Baseball League

When:
March 4th to April 1st 2018

Where:
Rincón, Puerto Rico

Cost:
Regular Registration: $2,700

Pay in Full: $2,300 (For limited time! Register in full and get $400 off the regular registration rate)

Returning Player Registration: $2,000 (former PRIBL player)

Local Player Registration: $1,000 (players who will not need housing and meals)

Deposit Option: $500 (A deposit will guarantee your roster spot)

What’s Covered:
Lodging from January 7th (Report date) – February 5th (Depart date)
2 Meals per day
Local transportation to & from training facilities for entire length of program. Players are responsible for their own transportation to and from Airport.
Sports Insurance coverage
Includes all instructor fees (MLB Alumni player/coach Instruction)
Each player will receive hands-on instruction from professional coaches who have the ability to sign players to a Professional Contract.
Game action: Up to 25 games scheduled with Puerto Rico AA teams.
Training workshops: These workshops will include financial planning, sports psychology, and mental preparation towards the game, sports marketing, and preparation for the media, toxicology, doping and the life within the sport.
The PRIBL will provide on-site trainers.
Players’ Stats will be provided daily in our website
Documented Scouting Report will be sent by email at the end of the program. Evaluations are also made during camps.
Exposure: MLB Scouts, Major League Staff, Minor League Directors, Minor League player personnel, may visit at any given time. Independent, European and Mexican League representatives will be in attendance or in contact to fill roster spots for the upcoming championship season. Staff is composed of coaches from those leagues.
Uniforms (jersey, hat, belt, socks, workout shorts, and workout shirt)
Equipment (balls, bats, helmets and catcher’s gear all provided)
Locker room facility
Gym Access
All players are provided an equal opportunity to showcase their abilities.

Affiliation(s):
The coaches for the winter league are also coaches in the Empire League and United Shore Pro Baseball League during the summer.

Additional Info:
PRIBL FAQ’s – Official Site

Registration: 2018 PRIBL Registration

South Florida Winter League

When: 
October 28th – November 16th.

Where:
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Cost:
$950 without housing
$2,200 with housing

What’s covered:
Games
Housing
Breakfast
Professional Coaching and instruction
Evaluation from managers and scouts from established Leagues with the ability to sign players
Uniforms( jersey hat, bp shirt and shorts players are responsible to bring grey pants)
Transportation for Baseball Activities and airport
If you can bring your own car it’s recommended

Affiliation(s):
Staff listed include managers from the Frontier League and the United Shore League, a coach from the Atlantic League and a pitching coordinator for the Phillies as well as additional “scouts.”

Additional Info:
The League’s Official Website 

Registration: 2017 Fall Camp Registration

Cocoa Expo Pro Winter League

When:
November 2nd – 22nd

Where:
Cocoa, FL

Cost:
$2,750

Affiliation(s):
No official Affiliation

Additional Info:
Winter 2017 will make the 2nd season of the Pro Winter League since our $50 Million restoration/renovation project of the 23 season Houston Astros facility.  Last season’s Winter League over 100 players were evaluated by Scouts and Coaches from MLB, the Frontier League, Canadian League, Japenese League, Pacos League, Atlantic League, Independent League and many others.  More than 30 players were signed and 2 recieved offers from MLB.  This winter 2017 event stands to be even better with more than 300 players expected to attend along with more Scouts and Coaches.

Cocoa Expo’s Professional baseball Winter League is like no other in the U.S. We provide a special setting for Scouts and Coaches to evaluate players unlike other faclities. From our 35,000 sq.ft. training facility that boasts 14 indoor batting cages with 7 video simulated probatter machines, to our 11 professional fields. Scouts and Coaches that are looking to sign players can evaluate you better here than anywhere else and players get more exposure.  In addition everything is provided at one single location.  Players never have to leave the complex.  We provide housing onsite, all meals are included and onsite with our master chef preparing with food displayed and served at our exclusive buffet spread.

Step out of the Rec Hall and Cafeteria and jump right into the 35,000 sq ft. training center that houses $1million in weight equipment, steppers, treadmills, eliptials, climbers and more than 110 stations.  No facility can compare.  At Coao Expo’s Winter League you’ll receive evaluation at our facilities and will have no need to leave.


I’ll admit that I have never heard of the Cocoa Expo Pro Winter League. They state that this is their second year in existence, but I do not personally know any player that attended.

Registration: Official Site and Registration 

Thoroughbred Fall League

At one point… this was listed on their website as an instructional league starting in September. That information has since been removed and for good reason.

Affiliation(s):
Thoroughbred Baseball League

Additional Info:
The Thoroughbred League had a lot of issues in it’s first season this summer. These issues included poor playing conditions, failure to pay players as promised, and the lack of stats.

Indy Ball Island has highlighted these issues at the end of the season.

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Guest Bloggers – The Black Sox Series

Recently, Indy Ball Island introduced our readers to the Black Sox after they participated in an Education Day game.

Now, members of the Black Sox are jumping on board as guest bloggers.  The players who travel all across the country just hoping for a chance are ready to share their stories with you… every step of the way.

Black Sox members, Bobby Orozco and Alex Fishberg, sent in a part of their stories to start the Black Sox series.

Battered Bastards are Back

Black Sox Professional Baseball

Road Warriors

A guy walks into a bar and the rest is history. Baseball is the game of life – It is the only sport you will fail in; but will you respond. For a professional baseball player, there is only one life; baseball. Growing up, every boy in America wants to be in the limelight. They want to be seen at 7:05 pm every night. They want to sign the baseballs and take pictures with the fans. They want the opportunity most well never get.

Being a professional, not just a professional baseball player goes deeper than what is seen at 7:05. Most never see, Mike Trout, Kris Bryant, Derek Jeter, guys who know to arrive at the ballpark at 9 in the morning for a game that starts at 7:05, after a three hour game. Maybe five if they go into extras. It is ambition, grit, and finding a way to stay humble when they are making thousands of dollars per pitch and the guy in the locker next to him has to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because he is happy to be in the clubhouse.

Professional baseball, that most folks see on television is a long bumpy road, filled with pot-holes that you can drown in, then dry off, climb Mt. Everest, twice, and still not see the sun. MLB is the throne, but players must first prove themselves in: A (single-A), AA (double –AA), and then finally AAA (triple-A). There are a select few who get to jump levels because our Father blessed us with attributes they embraced. They spent the long days and late nights perfecting their craft. Then there are the guys who get wrote off before they were even given a chance.

That’s us. Blacksox. The quiet storm that rolls into your town and beats the guys who were given an opportunity. We’re here to take your job and we have no problem doing it. We take pride in it.

Sadly, the Blacksox do not even get the opportunity to play against MLB affiliate teams. We play against the Independent leagues across America. The Atlantic League, The Can-Am League, The American Association, The Frontier League, The Pacific Association, and the Pecos League.  These leagues are funded on their own money to build cathedrals for fans to come watch no name players who are given the opportunity to become the next Mike Trout, Kris Bryant, and Derek Jeter. Players in these leagues can make anywhere from thousand dollars a month to fifty-six dollars a week. How can a human-being survive off fifty-six dollars a week? Ambition.

Players in Independent baseball know what they are getting into. They know they are leaving they’re family, friends, girlfriends, wives, kids, and life back home. There is no more comfort zone. There is sleeping in a hotel with eight guys and two beds. Believe me its possible. Arriving to the next town at ten in the morning, after traveling sixteen hours with those comrades; to be on the field at two in the afternoon to be ready for a game at 7:05. They are doing this all on less than a teacher’s salary. But that’s what it takes for the guys who were written off – and we the Blacksox make it happen.

It is a very low standard of living – a very humble journey. It is not the driving, the traveling, or taking care of business on the field – that we do, and we do it well. Because we are not associated with any of these Independent leagues. We are Independent. We are baseball. These battered bastards save up money in the off-season to drive themselves on their own dime, across the country to win in these Independent leagues and earn a job.

For instance, this year the Blacksox began their spring-training trip April 14th against the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League managed by Ross Peeples. They then stayed in the Atlantic League to face-off against the New Britain Bees on April 17th , managed by Stan Clibrun. Directly after that they embarked on an eleven hour drive to Florence, Kentucky, where out of the kindness of his heart, Manager Dennis Pelfrey of the Florence Freedom (Frontier League) allowed the Blacksox, managed by their fearless leader Joe Torre, to spend two weeks to stop, rest their heads, get on his field, to prepare before the real grind begins.

Joe Torre will take these misfits from across the country, which most have never met before in their lives, and find a way to win with men he has sometimes never met as well. He might hear about you from someone else who heard about you from someone else, but he is willing to invest in you if you are willing to invest in yourself. Baseball is a business and if anyone knows this, The Godfather of Indy Ball, Joe Torre, knows it like your grandma’s sauce. Joe is from New Jersey, a true Brooklyn Brawler. He is in your face, not to scare you, well maybe a little bit, but it is because he knows what it takes to achieve your goals. Joe is the Owner, General Manager, Skipper, player and clubbie. He is our Jackie Moon. It is a good thing we do not have a washing machine because he would trade it for a player. This guy could sell sand to a camel. He took over the Blacksox name 15 years ago, which started as a Men’s league team in New Jersey with a group of guys who still loved the game. They loved it. The Blacksox name is legendary in The Garden State, and Joe has been able to take the pride and soul of the Blacksox across our country and pass it on to the youth, because, Wu-tang is for the Children.

The Blacksox grind starts in Pennsylvania, then to Kentucky, to Illinois, where the team splits into two. Some will head south to Texas, then to North Dakota while the rest will travel back to Kentucky and continue to New York, until they all meet back up in the beautiful California sunshine. Joe guides these lost souls to where he knows they have an opportunity to gleam in the limelight.

Alex Fishberg, RHP, whom just signed with the 2017 Normal Cornbelters, Normal, Illinois, is one of the hundreds of players Joe has showcased and moved on to the next level. This is just a small part that goes into what it takes to be signed. These are his words.

 

Alex Fishberg
RHP
BlackSox Spring Training Trip 2017

Goals:

-Sign a contract in 1 of 4 main Indy leagues (quickest way to Affiliated ball)

-Maintain velocity while filling up k zone

-Improve with sliders for strikes, already know I can throw it where I want in 0-2, 1-2 counts

-Throw splitter where I can show for 3rd pitch

-Get ahead, get lead off out

 

 

April 14th
(3 1/2 hour drive)
Lancaster Barnstormers-Atlantic league
Manager- Ross Peeples
Pitching coach- Scott Patterson
1 inning, 1k, lineout, groundout, 0 bb, 0 h
Velocity – 91 – 95 mph

Threw strikes while rearing back, got ahead, stayed ahead. Strikeout was on 1-2 slider. They took my name and number.

April 17th
(1 hour 45 min)
New Britain Bees- Atlantic league
Manager- Stan Cliburn

1inning, 3 k, 0 bb, 0 h
Velocity – 90 – 93 mph
Came back in full count against 1st batter with strikeout on fastball. Got ahead of 2nd batter and struck him out on high fastball, 3rd batter had 11 pitch at bat, kept fouling off fastball and slider, struck him out with fastball chest high.

April 18-22
(11 hour drive)
Travelodge $60/night 5 nights
Florence Freedom workout – Frontier League
Manager – Dennis Pelfrey
Pitching coach – Brian White

Day 1 – 19th
Faced mix of Freedom hitters and our guys
2 k’s, 1bb, broken bat – groundout
Velo – 91

Day 2 – 20th
2 k’s, 2 bbs, groundball, hit to right field off shortstop
Velo- 88-90
-not as sharp as first day, but have thrown 4 to7 days now
-Pelfrey would like to see front leg more direct to plate, make adjustment to throw inside to righties

Day 3 – 4 – light toss, flat grounds, bands, running

April 24 – 25
(4 1/2 hour drive)
Doubletree $100/night 3 nights (4 guys)
Frontier League Draft

Day 1
8 pitch pen, hit spots with fastball and slider
Velo- 91

Day 2
Game-time – start with a 1-1 count
Walked first batter and was all over, came back with 2 strikeouts, error on fly ball to rightfielder, then another strikeout
Velo – 93, 77
-not drafted but content with how I threw and came back after 1st batter. Out of my hands. Time to shove in BlackSox spring training games

April 27
(2 hour drive)
Motel 8 $67/night 1 night (3 guys)
Normal Cornbelters workout – Frontier League
Manager- Brooks Carey
– 40 degrees/windy and throwing against normal in games on Tuesday.
– Brooks wants to see 2-3 innings of consistency

-later in day offered contract to united shore professional baseball league by Shane Mccatty
-could be development I need to move to higher league, waiting it out
-offered $650/month
-had Joe talk to coach

April 28
(2 hour drive)
Mansion $25/night 2 nights
Windy City Thunderbolts – Frontier League
Manager- Ron Biga

.2 ip, 2k in a row
Velo- 91-93, 78

-first batter got into 3-1 count, came back and struck him out with fastball. 2nd batter I got ahead 0-2, threw best slider I’ve thrown on trip. Hard low slider that batter swung over. Remember that feel- grip and rip mentality. Focal point was batters hip.

Game 2- rainout
April 30 – 31
Travelodge $60/night 2 nights
Florence Freedom

Game 1
1ip, 2 bb, 1 k
Velo- 87-92

-worst I have felt on spring training trip. Rushed in bullpen to get loose and carried it out to the mound with me. Need to find a way to slow down even if I have to get hot fast. Move on and learn from it.

Game 2 – down

May 2
(4.5 hour drive)
Motel 8 $67/night 4 nights
Normal Cornbelters

Game 1
1 ip, 3 k, 1h, 0bb, 0r
Velo- 91-94, 78

-shoved. Consistently threw to glove, slider was nasty. Normal scoreboard was amped up and had me 95-96, hit 97. Awesome feeling
Game 2
1 ip, 2 h, 0 bb, 0k, 0r
Velo- 88-91

-not as sharp but got it done

SIGNED by Normal Cornbelters Wednesday May 3, 2017.

For more information on the Black Sox, please check out their official website HERE.

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