Mehring Monday: Independently

A look at Rattlers alumni in the Independent Leagues during 2013

Juan Sanchez was a Timber Rattler in 2009. He spent the 2013 season playing with the Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League. Jeff Isom, his manager in Wisconsin, was also his manager this year in 2013. (Wm. Glasheen)

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | November 4, 2013 8:29 AM ET

My baseball broadcasting roots are from the independent leagues. The first baseball job I had was in Duluth, Minnesota as the number two announcer of the Duluth-Superior Dukes. I spent three years in the Northern League of Independent Baseball and as a result of that, I still have an interest in what is happening outside of affiliated baseball.

Timber Rattlers official scorer Jay Grusznski looked up former Timber Rattlers players who are active in the independent leagues during the season. I added in the season stats and the result is this week's Mehring Monday.

If I am remembering the timeline correctly, the Duluth-Superior Dukes moved to suburban Kansas City to become the T-Bones. Then, the T-Bones moved from the Northern League to the American Association. The 2013 T-Bones had a pair of Timber Rattlers alumni.

Kansas City T-Bones:
Jose Jimenez ('08): 47 games; 1-1, 3.59 ERA; 42.2IP, 19BB, 46K
Chad Robinson ('10): 24 games; 3-3, 8 Saves, 4.07 ERA; 24.1IP, 13BB, 27K

Lincoln Saltdogs:
Danny Carroll ('08): 52 games; .303/.383/.483; 7HR, 30RBI, 22SBs

Carroll was signed by the Atlanta Braves and sent to Rome, Georgia for the remainder of the season.

Carlos Lezcano was the manager of the Appleton Foxes in 1993 and 1994, the final two seasons of Goodland Field. He spent 2013 as the manager of the El Paso Diablos and they went 39-61. He also had former Timber Rattlers pitcher Seth Lintz on his roster…very briefly.

El Paso Diablos:
Seth Lintz ('11, '12): 8 games, 4 starts; 0-3, 8.87 ERA; 23.1IP, 10BB, 20K

Lintz played in two other leagues. I'll have those stats and a link to the story of Seth Lintz as we move down the list.

Someone else who played for more than one team in the independent leagues is pitcher Justin Dowdy. Jay's notes on Dowdy's time with the Grand Prairie AirHogs say that he was the Pitching Coach there, too.

Grand Prairie AirHogs:
Justin Dowdy ('03): 31 games, 2-4, 2 Saves; 3.58ERA; 27.2IP, 14BB, 25K

Jose Amado played for the Timber Rattlers in 1996. He didn't play this year, but he spent the 2013 season as the hitting coach of the Wichita Wingnuts and they went out to hit .297 as a team.

Every team tries to stand out with their nickname. Fabian Williamson, a Timber Rattlers pitcher in 2007, wound up playing for the Lemurs with Lintz. Lemurs is now my favorite team name ever.

Laredo Lemurs:
Fabian Williamson ('07): 18 games, 12 starts; 6-2, 3.42ERA; 73.2IP, 33BB, 75K
Seth Lintz ('11, '12): 14 games, 2 starts; 2-1, Save; 7.31ERA; 28.1IP, 14BB, 24K

Two former Timber Rattlers plied their trade in the Can-Am League, a league that is pretty self-explanatory with teams in both Canada and America. Sebastien Boucher, a Canadian, and Bryan Sabatella, an American, makes them the Can-Am Connection of former Rattlers in this league.

New Jersey Jackals:
Bryan Sabatella ('06): 98 games; .291/.355/.435; 10HR, 47RBI

Quebec Capitales:
Sebastien Boucher ('05): 88 games; .275/.351/.380; 3HR, 18RBI

The Timber Rattlers have had a few players - Mark Williams and Alan Williams are two who spring to mind - come through town who have played in the Frontier League. That league will also pick up younger players who have been released from the Midwest League. Additionally, there are a pair of managers in the Frontier League with ties to the Rattlers.

Southern Illinois Miners:
Gerardo Avila ('06, '07, '08): 66 games; .321/.383/.471; 7HR, 40RBI

Jeff Isom managed the Timber Rattlers in 2009 and 2010. I first saw him as a pitcher for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHaws in the Northern League. He is back in the independent ranks as a manager and he had one of his favorite players from the 2009 team with him in Ohio this season.

Lake Erie Crushers:
Juan Sanchez ('09): 95 games; .231/.306/.283; HR, 29RBI

Isom's Crushers went 56-40 in the regular season, but lost in the Frontier League Championship Series.

One of the quirks of Independent League baseball is that there will be a travel team to even out the divisions. The Frontier Greys were the travel team in the Frontier League. It's a tough assignment because you do not have a home stadium and all your time is spent on the road. But, Brent Metheny, a Rattlers player in 2003 and 2004, took that assignment as the manager of the Greys. The team went 33-62 in some difficult circumstances. He did have a former Rattler pitcher on his roster, too.

Frontier Greys:
Matt Costello ('10): 22 games, 14 starts; 2-9, 4.45ERA; 91.0IP, 28BB, 74K

Seth Lintz also spent some time in this league.

Joliet Jackhammers:
Seth Lintz ('11, '12): 2 games; 0-0, 10.12ERA; 2.2IP, 4BB, K

The Atlantic League is one of the premier independent leagues. That's where many former major leaguers have gone to play and the rosters are usually a little older. Five ex-Rattlers were in this league, but all of them are from the Mariners Affiliation Era and none are from after 2006.

Bridgeport Bluefish:
Emiliano Fruto ('02): 33 games; 1-3, 3.58ERA; 37.2IP, 14BB, 46K
Miguel Martinez ('03): 18 games, 18 starts; 5-6, 3.29ERA; 115.0 IP; 29BB, 68K

Sugar Land Skeeters:
Travis Scott ('06): 108 games; .276/.353/.447; 11HR, 59RBI
Jeff Dominguez ('06): 86 games; .277/.332/.424; 8HR, 48RBI

Lancaster Barnstormers:
Justin Dowdy ('03): 17 games; 1-0, 2.13ERA; 12.2IP, 4BB, 6K

The Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Teams is an interesting league. There were five teams, including a pair in Hawaii. Kyle Dhanani ('09, '10) wound up in this league…that did not include On Base or Slugging Percentage in their stats.

San Rafael Pacifics:
Kyle Dhanani ('09, '10): 73 games; .298 with 8 homers, 42 RBI, and 26 stolen bases.

I have alluded to Seth Lintz and his first year in independent baseball. This article by Jim Owczarski of includes a lot on Lintz.

Lintz wasn't signed by another team until being picked up by the Joliet Slammers of the independent Frontier League for the start of 2013. He didn't last two months, being released the day after Memorial Day. He was out of work until June, when the El Paso Diablos of the American Association picked him up. Released yet again on July 21, he signed with the Laredo (Texas) Lemurs six days later.

"I didn't really understand that in independent leagues there isn't really room for development," he said. "It's kind of a here and now type feel and your adjustments have to be made a lot quicker if you want to stay around because they have a bunch of guys coming all the time."

He's now come and gone three times this summer. Such is life on the fringes of professional baseball.

It's an interesting read.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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