Saturday, March 5, 2011

ATLANTIC LEAGUE NOW HAS 20 PLAYERS INVOLVED IN MAJOR LEAGUE CAMPS; DUCKS' ALMONTE GETTING LONG LOOK

The Atlantic League should be popping buttons of pride with at least 20 of its former players wearing major league uniforms in spring training, if only for a day.

The league had 15 players on our original list of those due in camps which we covered in a recent Independent Baseball Insider column, including 11 non-roster invitees, but at least five more have gotten a pass of one day or more to join baseball's top echelon. All of Independent Baseball can claim at least 56 of its former players in big league camps, either as 40-man roster players, invitees or up from minor league camp for a day.

The latest pair of Atlantic Leaguers to appear in exhibition games are batting 1.000, too, with Corey Smith, who played third base when Newark won the '07 championship, getting a two-run double for the Los Angeles Dodgers and veteran major leaguer Jason Lane, who was at Southern Maryland for a time last season, collecting a run-scoring single for Toronto.

DUCKS' ALMONTE LEADS BREWERS IN AT BATS

Erick Almonte seems to be getting a very solid look early in the Cactus League season with Milwaukee, most likely because of his .320 batting average (two homers, 38 RBI in 325 at-bats) last season in Nashville (Triple-A). The 2006 Long Island Ducks star (.302-9-77 plus 24 doubles and 16 steals in 111 games) is primarily playing first base or being used as a designated hitter instead of his earlier days as a shortstop, and leads all Brewers with 15 at-bats in five appearances.

He is limping with only two hits (.133), but one of those was a home run in Thursday's 11-9 win over Oakland. The 33-year-old went 1-for-3 with two RBI. Another former Atlantic Leaguer, catcher Mike Rivera (Atlantic City), also homered in his two times at bat for the Brew Crew.

Almonte likely is somewhat of a long shot, but what a story it would be since his career includes more than 1,200 minor league games, time in Japan and only 39 major league contests, all of those back in 2001 and 2003 with the New York Yankees.

POSITION PLAYERS AWAITING NEW OPPORTUNITIES

A couple of days ago we listed the pitchers with Atlantic League playing time who were with major league organizations at the end of last season and are believed to be without jobs (some may have chosen to retire) at this time. Today it is the position players in similar situations:

CATCHERS: None.
INFIELDERS: 1B Jason Botts, Christian Colonel, Fernando Cortez, Keoni DeRenne, Ramon Nivar, Gabe Suarez.
OUTFIELDERS: Cory Aldridge, Charlton Jimerson, Jacque Jones (likely retired), Val Majewski, Andres Perez, Michael Ryan, Matt Watson.

We welcome clarifications from this list to RWirz@aol.com.

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