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PRESS BOX

Former Independent Leaguers in the Majors

04/14/2009 8:45 AM -

(This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes on Independent Baseball.  Fans may subscribe at www.WirzandAssociates.com,  enjoy his blogs (www.IndyBaseballChatter.com and www.IndependentBaseballClassifieds.com ) or comment to RWirz@aol.com.  The author has 16 years of major league baseball PR experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)

The nicest fact about the 15 Independent Baseball graduates who started the season in the major leagues, a list that includes Arizona’s Max Scherzer (technically on the disabled list but planned on as a starting pitcher), is that nine of them started their professional career in a non-affiliated league.

 This includes righthander Chris Jakubauskas, who hurled two scoreless innings in his major league debut for Seattle Wednesday [April 8].  Jakubauskas was in the American Association (Lincoln, NE) as recently as 2007, the same year Scherzer was in that league with Fort Worth, TX and Toronto starter Scott Richmond was in the Northern League (Edmonton, Alberta, now in the Golden League).

 Jakubauskas became the 31st player who started in an Independent league to reach the majors since play began in 1993 and the 131st to make that climb overall.  The Northern League takes top honors for today with seven players in the majors.

 The 15 Independent players on major league rosters are four more than at the same time one year ago.  The players, with their current affiliation and the teams and leagues where they played:

PITCHERS (10)--Craig Breslow, Minnesota (New Jersey, Northeast League); Tim Byrdak, Houston (Gary, IN and Joliet, IL, Northern League); Mark DiFelice, Milwaukee (Somerset and Camden, NJ, Atlantic League); *Chris Jakubauskas, Seattle (Lincoln, NE, American Association, Orange County, Fullerton, CA, Golden League, and Florence, KY and Ohio Valley, Frontier League); *Josh Kinney, St. Louis (River City, O’Fallon, MO, Frontier); Edwar Ramirez, New York-AL (Pensacola, FL, Central League, and Edinburg, TX, United League); *Scott Richmond, Toronto (Edmonton, Alberta, Northern); *Max Scherzer (DL), Arizona (Fort Worth, TX, American Association); *George Sherrill, Baltimore (Evansville, IN, Frontier, Winnipeg and Sioux Falls, SD, Northern League); Brad Ziegler, Oakland (Schaumburg, IL, Northern).
 
CATCHERS (2)--*Chris Coste, Philadelphia (Fargo, Northern, Brainerd, MN, North Central League, Brandon, Manitoba, Prairie League); Mike Rivera, Milwaukee (Atlantic City, NJ, Atlantic).

INFIELDERS (2)--*Stephen Drew, Arizona (Camden, Atlantic); *Kevin Millar, Toronto (St. Paul, MN, Northern).

OUTFIELDER (1)--*J.D. Drew, Boston (St. Paul, Northern).

 *Played first game in an Independent league.