May 012011
 

As longtime readers know, I have a soft spot for the independent brand of the game. That’s in part because I was a season-ticket holder to an indy team for the three years prior to my moving to Northern Virginia, but also because it’s a throwback to the way the minors were nearly a hundred years ago. In the days before radio and TV, conservative estimates had more than 400 pro and semipro teams across the U.S., each built to win but also willing to sell its best players to the major leagues to stay afloat, which of course created bidding wars. Thus, the NAPBL was formed to kill the competition and save the owners from themselves organize and professionalize the minors.

Today, the independent teams are still built to win, but the players are no longer sold — though organizations have been known to send (badly needed) equipment as a thank-you. In many ways, the indys have become a thing of chance. For the younger and/or undrafted guys (typically, collegiate ballplayers), it’s a last chance to get noticed. For the older guys, it’s a second chance to get back into the minors. And for the rest, it’s simply a chance to keep playing for the love of the game (Hagerstown folks might remember a MI named Vic Davilla who became the Albert Pujols of the Can-Am League, retiring in 2008 at the age of 35 after 12 seasons in indy ball with a line of .313/.373/.502).

On Friday night, the Atlantic League started up. It’s widely considered the best of the bunch because it has the highest payroll and operates in the larger markets on the East Coast. It’s also the only one without any rules regarding age or service time. Consequently, it attracts AA/AAA talent and sends players back and forth to the majors with the greatest frequency (which it touts) though it’s commonly as a stopgap (which it doesn’t) to keep prospects at the desired level.

Unfortunately, it requires eyeballing the rosters of each and every team to see familiar names, so this feature will be sporadic and will undoubtedly be a bit incomplete. But here’s the players I spotted today, answering for some “Hey, where’d _____ end up?”

Dan Lyons, Long Island Ducks

Yunior Novoa, Lancaster Barnstormers

Jason Botts, York Revolution

  10 Responses to “Ex-Nats In The Indys: Atlantic League Edition”

  1. Wow, what a service. This is perhaps even above and beyond NFA, which is saying something. I went with my family and mom to a game in Northern NJ a few years ago (The Jackals, the Summit Cardinals, perhaps?), and while the quality of play was execreble, there were a few recognizable names, and my then-5-year-old got into a promotion on the field.

    I will always have a bit of a bitter taste for these leagues when thinking about Aaron Crow, but otherwise I am all for spreading professional baseball as far and wide as possible.

    +1/2St.

    • Might have been the Sussex Skyhawks, too. I watched the Can-Am for three seasons and am on my sixth of the Carolina League. They’re not that far apart. And on most nights the casual fan could not tell the difference.

      Not sure why you’d blame the indys for giving Aaron Crow a place to pitch. You might blame them for other promotional stunts (be patient it takes a while to start) but you can’t blame them for putting a legitimate talent on the field. Speaking of the Ft. Worth Cats, some folks might be interested to learn that their first base coach of the past five seasons has finally retired. At the age of 85.

  2. glad to see Dan Lyons landed somewhere. he’s a super guy and not too bad a ball player.

  3. How much do these guys make?

    • The Atlantic League pays the best, so the superstars get about $3K a month, the rank and file about $1,500-$2,000. Most other leagues pay in the $700 to $1200/mo. range — not substantially less than what the affiliated minor-leaguers make, which is roughly (per month, from SS to A to AA to AAA before a player hits the 40-man) $850-$1,050-$1,500-$2,150).

      Garrett Broshius wrote an article in BA last year about how little minor-leaguers make and what they put up with to pursue their dreams. It’s even worse for the indy guys in many respects, because the host family arrangement is less common. Not to mention a lot of are older and married and life dictates their choices. For example, the first year I was a STH to an indy team, one of the team’s best hitters had to retire after his son was born. He was 24.

  4. Sue – awesome work as always but just an FYI. MLB tweatked the sal scales a couple yrs ag. FIrst yr players in each lg now can not make less than $1100. Retty much goes – $1100, $1250, $1500, $2100 now.

  5. Former P-Nat Terrence Engles is playing for the Sioux Falls Pheasants

  6. […] discussed earlier this month, as the indys start up in May, we’d be checking back to see if we could find some familiar […]

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