Tag Archives: independent baseball signings

2021 The Summer of Signings

Major League Baseball organizations are signing independent players at an alarming rate this summer.

Baseball America has reported that 150 players have been signed from the MLB Partner Leagues (Atlantic League, American Association, Frontier League, and Pioneer League) as of their article on June 25th.

With the reduction in minor league affiliated teams, it makes sense for the MLB Partner Leagues to act as true feeder leagues to major league organizations. On top of that, the summer off for most players last year also has to be attributing to the injury-riddled rosters.

And while the number of contracts purchased gives indy ball players hope, it is starting to affect the level of play (especially pitching) for those still within the partner leagues.

If you’ve watched any game from a Partner League this season, you may have noticed that the level of play is down from years past. That was evident in the beginning of the season, but even more so now that their rosters have all been poached for talent to fill spots. Specifically, there is a huge drop in the level of pitching. Teams are really just trying to find arms to fill spots and eat up innings. Throwing strikes with some sort of velocity is a plus, but even that is getting harder and harder to find.

So if the major league organizations find players in the partner leagues, where do the partner leagues go to fill their depleted rosters?

Of course, the normal college grads are always an option but…

There are various true independent leagues running around the country that each have a goal to get players the game reps they need to be seen and hopefully move up to a partner league.

Right now, the Yinzer League (based in the Frontier League Washington Wildthing’s ballpark in Pennsylvania) are playing games every day. This league, ran by Joe Torre and the Black Sox (you may be familiar with them if you’re a reader of this site), has worked hard to get guys seen and signed this summer. Players have gone to each partner league in the month that they have been playing.

The USPBL (which also runs out of a single stadium in Utica, MI) is another option for players who need a spot to play.

Likewise, the Pecos League in the southwest and the Empire League in the northeast are giving players opportunities to play, gain stats, and hopefully move up to a team that is looking for a player who is already game ready.

If you’re sitting at home but want to get back in the game… there ARE spots available. A LOT of spots. It may not be easy finding them. It may be a true grind once you get there. But teams are looking.

Pirates Sign Three From Indy Ball

The Pirates have been busy making minor moves over the last few weeks.  The team has signed Andrew Potter, Zane Chavez and Jose Barraza from independent ball.

Potter, a 22 year old right handed pitcher from the United Shore Pro Baseball League, was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2012. He spent four seasons in the Diamondbacks organization but never played higher than rookie ball.

Potter pitched in 18 games in the Frontier League in 2016 while splitting time between the Southern Illinois Miners and Evansville Otters. He had a combined ERA of 10.59 in 17 IP before being released in July. He then went on to play with the Utica Unicorns of the USPBL.  He fared much better there where he posted a 1.09 ERA with 19 strikeouts and only 3 walks in 19 innings.

Chavez, a 29 year old catcher from the Laredo Lemurs of the American Association, was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2005 but elected to attend college.  After his college career ended, he played four seasons of indy ball (Can-Am: New Hampshire, Pittsfield, and New Jersey and American Association: Grand Prairie and El Paso) before signing with the Baltimore Orioles organization in 2013. Chavez played two seasons in the Orioles organization, reaching as high as AA before returning to indy ball.

For the 2015 season, he rejoined Grand Prairie where he had a .288 avg and 41 RBI in 80 games. In 2016, Chavez batted .260 with 38 RBI in 70 games for the Lemurs.

Barraza, a 22 year old catcher/first baseman, was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2012. He was in the White Sox organization from 2012 to 2014 where he played rookie/A ball.

After being released during spring training in 2015, Barraza turned to indy ball where he joined the Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League. In 187 games over two seasons with the Crushers, he collected 100 RBI with a .279 average while splitting time between catcher and first base.