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James, Schlichting Highlight Spring Training Rosters

02/22/2011 9:33 AM -

Portions of article taken from the Independent Baseball Insider column, written by Bob Wirz

Former T-Bones pitcher Justin James (pictured) – who last season became the first player in Northern League history to begin the campaign with an independent team and earn a promotion to the major league level in the same year – is one of 47 former independent league players with an invite to spring training this season. James is currently on the 40-man roster for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Travis Schlichting, also a former T-Bones pitcher and the first Kansas City player to reach the major leagues (debuted on June 7, 2009), enters the 2011 season on the 40-man roster of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Twenty-one of the 47 who make up the biggest independent class in spring training since 2009 are on the coveted 40-man roster, which makes them prime targets for major league jobs now or in the near future. The other 26 are non-roster invitees, most of whom know they will need exceptional springs to even get considered for the glorious 25-man Opening Day player introductions.

Exactly one-third (16) of the players in major league training camps got their start in an independent league. The entire roster, including the independent teams and leagues, with those who played their first games with a non-affiliated team designated by an asterisk (*) and the names of non-roster invitees preceded by an “n”:

PITCHERS (33): Craig Breslow, Oakland (New Jersey, Little Falls, Northeast League); n*Greg Burke, San Diego (Atlantic City, NJ, Atlantic League); nTim Byrdak, New York-NL (Gary, IN, and Joliet, IL, Northern League); Robert Coello, Chicago-NL (Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta, Golden League); Bobby Cramer, Oakland (Orange County, Fullerton, CA, Golden); *Aaron Crow, Kansas City (Fort Worth, TX, American Association); nGabe DeHoyos, Oakland (Schaumburg, IL, Northern); Dane DeLaRosa, Tampa Bay (Southern Maryland, Waldorf, Atlantic; El Paso, TX, American Association; Orange County, Long Beach, CA and Yuma, AZ, Golden); nMark DiFelice, Milwaukee (Somerset, NJ, and Camden, NJ, Atlantic); Nelson Figueroa, Houston (Long Island, NY, Atlantic); *Luke Hochevar, Kansas City (Fort Worth, American Association); nJon Huber, Los Angeles-NL (Lancaster, PA, Atlantic); nEric Junge, Los Angeles-AL (Lancaster and Bridgeport, CT, Atlantic); Justin James, Milwaukee (Kansas City, KS, Northern); n*Josh Kinney, Chicago-AL (River City, O’Fallon, MO, Frontier League); Brandon Kintzler, Milwaukee (St. Paul, MN, American Association, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Northern - Pictured): nMatt Meyer, Los Angeles-NL (St. Paul, American Association); nMike O’Connor, New York-NL (Southern Maryland, Atlantic); n*Chris Oxspring, Detroit (Cook County, Crestwood, IL, Frontier); nMark Prior, New York-AL (Orange County, Golden); *Scott Richmond, Toronto (Edmonton, Northern); *Max Scherzer, Detroit (Fort Worth, American Association); n*Tanner Scheppers, Texas (St. Paul, American Association); Travis Schlichting, Los Angeles-NL (Kansas City, Northern); *George Sherrill, Atlanta (Evansville, IN, Frontier, and Winnipeg and Sioux Falls, SD, Northern); n*Brandon Sisk, Kansas City (Bay Area, Continental League); nR.J. Swindle, Tampa Bay (Schaumburg, Northern, and Newark, NJ, Atlantic); *Joe Thatcher, San Diego (River City, Frontier); nRaul Valdes, St. Louis (New Jersey and Nashua, NH, Can-Am League); Tom Wilhelmsen, Seattle (Tucson, AZ, Golden); nRandy Williams, Boston (Edinburg, TX, Central League); nClay Zavada, Arizona (Southern Illinois, Frontier); Brad Ziegler, Oakland (Schaumburg, Northern).

CATCHERS (5): nCody Clark, Kansas City (San Diego, CA, Golden); nMichel Hernandez, Baltimore (Somerset, Atlantic); nShawn Riggins, Milwaukee (New Jersey, Can-Am); nRene Rivera, Minnesota (Camden, Atlantic); nMike Rivera, Milwaukee (Atlantic City, Atlantic).

INFIELDERS (5): nErick Almonte, Milwaukee (Long Island, Atlantic); n*Tagg Bozied (1B) Philadelphia (Sioux Falls, Northern); *Stephen Drew (SS), Camden, Atlantic); John Lindsey (1B), Los Angeles-NL (New Jersey, Can-Am); nWily Mo Pena (1B) Arizona (Bridgeport, Atlantic).

OUTFIELDERS (4): n*Amaury (Marti) Cazana, St. Louis (Elmira, NY, Can-Am); *J.D. Drew, St. Paul, Northern); Jay Gibbons, Los Angeles-NL (Newark and Long Island, Atlantic) *Daniel Nava, Boston (Chico, CA, Golden).

(Bob Wirz also writes about independent baseball on two other sites, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com and www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com. Fans may subscribe for 2011 to this Independent Baseball Insider column at www.WirzandAssociates.com or comment to RWirz@aol.com. He has 16 years of major league baseball experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners, and lives in Stratford, CT.)