Tag Archives: Major League Baseball

The End of Indy Ball?

The “Save America’s Pastime Act” had no cosponsors and was never heard or voted on; however, it is now law.

Thanks to the Federal Spending Bill being passed, minor league baseball (especially independent baseball) may be completely changed.

The provision in the bill states that:

[A]ny employee employed to play baseball who is compensated pursuant to a contract that provides for a weekly salary for services performed during the league’s championship season (but not on spring training or the off season) at a rate that is not less than a weekly salary equal to the minimum wage under section 6(a) for a workweek of 40 hours, irrespective of the number of hours the employee devotes to baseball related activities.

This is a win for Major League baseball since they will not have to pay overtime to any of their players, including minor league players on their affiliated teams. It essentially kills the lawsuit that some former minor league players filed claiming that they should be paid overtime under minimum wage laws.

This law will only require a slight raise (with no overtime) to the lowest affiliated levels and will not affect the majority of teams or players.

But… this isn’t the case for independent baseball. These leagues are ran without financial help from a major league organization. They are small businesses ran on small salaries aided by the hopes and dreams of baseball players who just want a chance to keep playing and be seen by a “higher” level.

For most players, the money really doesn’t matter. It’s that chance to chase their dreams, and they are okay with the small pay they receive. It’s not always right and conditions are often rough, but it’s what they willingly choose to do.

People will look at some of the lower levels of professional baseball (including the Pecos and Empire leagues) and see their demise as a good thing, but it will still have a huge impact on so many people.

Every summer, these players join leagues that play in small towns all across America where families can enjoy a night at the ballpark without breaking the bank or traveling all the way to a major league park. Seasonal workers get a little extra money during those summer months, and college kids can get valuable experience through internships.

Sadly, those nights in most towns may be about to end.

If teams have to pay all players 40 hours a week at minimum wage, there may be BIG problems in independent baseball. Federal minimum wage at 40 hours would result in players being paid at least $290 a week or $1,160 a month.

Last season, the longest running independent league, the Frontier League, paid players a minimum of $600 a month (and a maximum of $1,600) with a total team salary for the season set at $75,000.

The higher leagues: the Can-Am, the American Association, and the Atlantic League, all have yearly salaries of $102,000, $115,000 and $225,000-$275,000 (based on the team) respectively.

This won’t really affect the Atlantic League, but will cause an impact on the American Association and the Can-Am.

And as it currently stands, it could cripple the Frontier League and all lower indy leagues: the Pacific Association, United Shore League, Pecos League, and the Empire League.

If teams are forced to pay all players a weekly salary of at least $1,160 a month, the whole landscape of indy ball will be disrupted.

Mike Shapiro, the president of the San Rafael Pacifics in the Pacific Association, was quoted as saying: “If that is the case, it puts us out of business. It would be the ruination of at least lower level independent leagues like ours. We’re struggling enough with worker’s comp . . . It’s the end of independent ball, certainly at the lower levels.”

He definitely isn’t the only one worried about the upcoming season. Many managers and owners that I talked to off the record are also concerned.

This could very well be the end of independent baseball as we know it.

“I tell you who gets hurt the worst, it’s not only the players, where we are the last stop,” Shapiro said. “They lose out because they don’t have the opportunity. The other who loses out is these communities with 1,000 seat ballparks. It’s a cheap night out for local families.”

There is hope that indy ball can continue operating as a seasonal business with the players being seasonal employees and exempt from all minimum wage laws, hopefully including this new one.

Only time will tell if indy stadiums are going to be forced to go dark.

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2016 California Winter League Draft Mid-Season Update

CWL

In March, the California Winter League (CWL) released a list of all players that were signed during or after the CWL season.

The list, which was updated after the season on February 27th, included 69 players who had signed at least a spring training contract for various independent leagues and major league organizations.

Since all the leagues are now mid-way through their seasons, we have decided to do an update to see how many CWL players are still on active rosters around the country.

Here is a look at how those players have done:

Major League Baseball

Evan Crower Philadelphia Phillies (Released by the Phillies and Windy City Thunderbolts before playing any games.)
*Steven Pollakov Chicago White Sox (Playing for the Great Falls Voyagers (Rookie) with a .250 avg in 8 games.)
*Kevin Lenik Texas Rangers (Playing for the Spokane Indians (Short Season) with a 0-1 record and 9.00 ERA in 8 games.)
Kade Andrus Arizona Diamondbacks (Released by the DBacks. Spent 3 games with Joplin Blasters (.167 avg) before being released.)
Connor Hoffman Arizona Diamondbacks (Released by the DBacks. Spent 3 games with Sussex County Miners (.125 avg) and 4 games with Traverse City Beach Bums (.083) and currently on DL.)
*Tanner Kiest Texas Rangers (Released by the Rangers. Played 2 games with Sussex County Miners (9.50 ERA), 2 games with Lincoln Saltdogs (0.00 ERA), and currently playing with Florence Freedom (12.00 ERA in 4 games.))
Jarrett Martin Texas Rangers (Released by the Rangers. Played 2 games with Ottawa (0-1, 7.11 ERA), 2 games with Sussex (0-1, 7.11 ERA) and 7 games with Rockland (0-2, 5.12 ERA.))

Frontier League

John Cruz Florence Freedom (Sent to Gary. Released. Signed to Schaumburg and released.)
Clayton Crum Florence Freedom (Released without playing a game.)
*Josh Wright Florence Freedom (Released, but signed by River City. Has a 2-1 record and 4.50 ERA.)
Darius Washington Florence Freedom (Released without playing a game.)
*Matt Pobereyko Florence Freedom (0-2 with 1.33 ERA before signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Currently has a 0.00 ERA in 5 games in the Arizona Rookie League.)
*Kenneth Frosch Evansville Otters (Playing with a 4-2 record with 1.33 ERA in 25 games.)
Victor Barron Evansville Otters (Released. Signed with Normal. Released after batting .167 in 8 games.)
Buddy Elgin Evansville Otters (Released without playing a game.)
*Kenny Knudsen Schaumburg Boomers (Playing with a 0-1 record and 6.09 ERA in 15 games.)
Scott Ward Schaumburg Boomers (Released without playing a game.)
Pete Leonello Southern Illinois Miners (Released without playing a game.)
Carl Jameson Southern Illinois Miners (Released without playing a game.)
Brandon Boyle Windy City ThunderBolts (Released after playing in 9 games with a 4-1 record and 8.25 ERA.)
Kevin Barker Windy City ThunderBolts (Released after playing in 23 games with a .158 average.)
Ryan Strombom Windy City ThunderBolts (Released after playing in 9 games with a 3-4 record and 5.71 ERA)
Alex Miden Windy City ThunderBolts (Released without playing a game.)
*Andrew Lowe Windy City ThunderBolts (Playing with a 1-0 record and 3.50 ERA in 17 games.)
Quintin Alexander Windy City ThunderBolts (Released without playing a game.)
*Brady Muller Windy City ThunderBolts (Playing with a 2-6 record with a 3.44 ERA in 10 games.)
*Luke Barker Traverse City Beach Bums (Playing with a 0-3 record and 1.88 ERA in 29 games.)
Wes Wallace Traverse City Beach Bums (Released after playing in 14 games with a .050 avg.)
Matt Burns Traverse City Beach Bums (Released after having a .192 avg in 9 games.)
Brian McKenna Traverse City Beach Bums (Released without playing a game.)
Lucas Hunter River City Rascals (Traded to Pittsburg Diamonds. Released without playing a game.)
*Mike Jurgella River City Rascals (Playing with a .265 avg in 41 games.)
Josh Eatherly River City Rascals (Released without playing a game.)
Alec Saikal River City Rascals (Released without playing a game.)
*Ben Allison Normal Cornbelters (Released. Currently signed with Florence. Has a 1-0 record and 4.50 ERA in 3 games.)
Kaleb Barlow Normal Cornbelters (Released without playing a game.)
Max Ayoub Gateway Grizzlies (Released without playing a game.)
Derek Hasenbeck Gateway Grizzlies (Released without playing a game.)
Andrew Wellwerts Lake Erie Crushers (Released without playing a game.)
*Parker Norris Lake Erie Crushers (Playing with a .209 avg in 42 games.)
Nate Antone Lake Erie Crushers (Released without playing a game.)
Tom Nagy Lake Erie Crushers (Released without playing a game.)
Dakota Freese Joliet Slammers (Released without playing a game.)
*Casey Fletcher Joliet Slammers (Playing with a .234 avg in 28 games.)
Alex Simone Washington Wild Things (Released without playing a game.)
*Brian O’Keefe Washington Wild Things (Playing with a 2.10 ERA in 13 games.)
Alex Williams Washington Wild Things (Released without playing a game.)
Tyler Garkow Washington Wild Thing (Released after having a 11.04 ERA and 0-2 record in 3 games.)

Atlantic League

Colin Moberly New Britain Bees (Released after 3 games with a 0-2 record and 27.00 ERA.)
*Nick Murphy New Britain Bees (Playing with a .153 avg in 22 games.)

American Association

Will Soto Joplin Blasters (Released after having a .266 avg in 26 games.)
*Mason Morioka Joplin Blasters (Released. Currently playing with Sonoma Stompers with a .287 avg in 39 games.)
Brandon Landanger Lincoln Saltdogs (Released without playing a game.)
Kaz Nezu Lincoln Saltdogs (Released without playing a game.)

Can-Am League

Jalen Harris Sussex Miners (Traded to Trois-Rivieres Aigels. Released after 11 games with a .211 avg.)
*Michael Tamburino Sussex Miners (Playing with a 1-2 record and 5.04 ERA in 11 games.)
*Alex DeBellis Rockland Boulders (Played 33 games with Rockland with a .208 avg. Traded to Sussex Miners and has a .254 avg.
Max Schonfeld Trois-Rivieres Aigles (Released after pitching in 6 games with a 0-3 record and 11.63 ERA.)

Pacific Association

*Kyle Adie San Rafael Pacifics (Playing with a .292 avg in 28 games.)
*Julian Esquibel San Rafael Pacifics (Playing with a 2-0 record and 4.34 ERA in 19 games.)
*Mark Lindsay San Rafael Pacifics (Playing with a .167 avg in 15 games.)
Trent Zaks Pittsburg Diamonds (Released without playing a game.)
Iszac Valdez Pittsburg Diamonds (Released after 10 games with a .250 avg.)
*Ian Hagenmiller Pittsburg Diamonds (Playing with a .159 avg in 14 games.)
Ethan Szabo Sonoma Stompers (Released after hitting .293 in 25 games.)
Landon Hunt Sonoma Stompers (Did not attend spring training.)
Masahiro Miyadera Sonoma Stompers (Did not attend spring training.)
*Marcus Blackmon Sonoma Stompers (Playing after 14 games with a .182 avg.)
*Eddie Mora -Loera Sonoma Stompers (Playing with a .252 avg in 36 games.)

*Currently on an active roster.
Only 25 of the 69 players are currently on an active roster as we hit the halfway mark of the baseball season.

(All independent league statistics/transactions courtesy of pointstreak.com. All MiLB stats courtesy of MiLB.com)