After examining some of the ex-MLBers in the Atlantic League, I was feeling rather unfulfilled. Even though the list was extensive, I knew that I had not yet covered the full spectrum of the Independent Leagues. The Atlantic League generally maintains a strong monopoly on ex-MLB players, but there are plenty of gems still muddling around the various professional baseball leagues.
Check out the Atlantic League all stars...here Check out the Northern League all stars...here
The third independent league that I will be covering will be the American Association. I must say, some of the names on this roster bring me back, but other names on this list have me thinking about the future.
So without further ado, Jorge Says No! proudly presents:
Oh my God! He's Still Around!
2009 American Association All Stars
Craig Brazell, 1B, St. Paul Saints: Former Mets and Royals great, who simply never got playing time. But there was a reason for this: even though Brazell had light tower power, he never could hit for enough average or get on base enough to be considered an everyday first baseman. I'll tell you this much, Brazell was a fun player to watch during batting practice.
Todd Self, OF, St. Paul Saints: Classic AAAA player with the Astros. Self could hit for average, but the power numbers simply were not there. Self did have a cup of tea with the Astros in 2005, but he was unable to stick in the majors.
Kerry Lightenberg, P, St. Paul Saints: There was a time where Lightenberg was one of the best relief pitchers in the majors. As a Met fan, I cannot tell you the amount of times Lightenberg came up big against the Mets, especially in 1998-2000. Lightenberg has not pitched in the majors since 2005, but he still has hopes about making it back to the show.
Dustan Mohr, OF, Wichita Wingnuts: When he was in the big leagues, Dustan Mohr was one of my favorite players to watch. Mohr was always hustling and playing his heart out, which was refreshing to see. Mohr showed some pop with the Twins and played very well with the Giants in 2004, but could not hit for enough average after that. For more on Mohr, here is a great interview.
Bubba Nelson, SP, Pensacola Penguins: One thing that everyone needs to know about life in baseball: what goes up, must come down. Nelson is a great example of that. In 2004, he was rated as the Braves #3 prospect and seemed destined for a long career in MLB. However, once Nelson was traded to the Reds, his career took a severe detour and he has not been the same since. Nelson's rose to prospect stardom very quickly, but his decline was equally as quick and very abrupt. For more on Nelson, click here.
Jordan Tata, SP, Grand Prairie AirHogs: Like Nelson, Tata was a former top prospect, who dramatically declined from being a top prospect. In 2006, Tata was one of the Tigers prized prospects and Baseball America named Tata the Tigers best control pitcher. But just two years later, Tata could not find the plate and was so frustrated that he broke his knuckle punching a door during spring training. Tata's lack of control killed his prospect status and forced the Tigers to release him.
Aaron Crow, SP, Fort Worth Cats: Optimism reigns in the American Association! You might remember Crow as the first round draft pick, who the Nationals were unable to sign last season. As a result, Crow is re-entering the 2009 MLB Draft and will probably be a first round pick. In order to stay fit, Crow will be pitching in the Independent League, like Jered Weaver before him (Atlantic League). The future is very, very bright for Crow.
Tanner Scheppers, SP, St. Paul Saints: Scheppers is in a similar situation to Aaron Crow. Scheppers expected to be a top 10 pick in last year's draft, but an injury hurt his stock as he fell to the second round. Scheppers did not sign with the Pirates and as a result, is eligible for the 2009 draft. By pitching for the Saints, Scheppers can help solidify his draft status and show major league teams that he's healthy. Performing well with the Saints could be a major boon for Scheppers.