Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz

It was only two years ago when relief pitcher John Brebbia finished a two-season stint blitzing American Association hitters with his fastball and slider that resulted in well over a strikeout per inning.

The lanky righthander also dazzled major league hitters virtually from the day he debuted May 28 of this season with the St. Louis Cardinals.  The 27-year-old Elon University product won’t win National League Rookie of the Year honors because of the presence of such players as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 39-home run man Cody Bellinger, but his value to the Cardinals is being fully recognized.

One prime example is from the website Fansided which calculated the financial value of various players through what author Jared Wolfe called his Predator Player Value Index.

Brebbia’s salary was prorated from the major league minimum of $535,000 for a full season, and his Predator Value translated being worth $6.2 million to the Cardinals.  Wolfe also translated rookie outfielder Tommy Pham‘s value to a team-best $14.1 million and a second former Independent player, first baseman-outfielder Jose Martinez, who often hit cleanup for St. Louis despite his rookie status, to $7.3 million.

In more easily understood terms, Brebbia gave up only 37 hits and 11 walks in his 51.2 innings spread over 50 appearances while striking out 51.  He did not have any wins or losses, but posted a 2.44 ERA.

The Boynton Beach, Fla., native spent three seasons in the New York Yankees farm system and did not get above Class A while the time in the American Association proved invaluable and allowed him to climb from Double-A to the majors in the St. Louis system in little more than a year.  Brebbia struck out 76 in 65.1 innings for Sioux Falls in 2014 (3-2, one save, 3.31), then took everything up another notch at Laredo the next summer when he only allowed 34 hits while striking out 79 in 64.1 innings.  He won seven of nine regular-season decisions, saved 19 games and posted a 0.98 ERA.  Brebbia was at his best in the playoffs, saving five of the Lemurs’ six victories on their way to the championship with 13 scoreless innings.

This ‘n That

  • Brian Lyter, who was only 27 when he became general manager at Gary three years ago, has been honored as one of 20 outstanding business, government and education people under the age of 40 in that area.  The annual program was sponsored by The Times Media Company and IN Business magazine.
  • RHP Chris Smith, 36, who made his only nine major league starts and had 14 total appearances for the Oakland Athletics this season, refused assignment to Triple-A and has become a free agent.  He was 8-4, 3.55 as a starter for Wichita four years ago.  Smith has made 77 major league appearances in his career with a 1-4 record and 5.41 ERA.

Previously the chief spokesman for Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about Independent Baseball since 2003.  He is a frequent contributor to this site, has a blog,, and a book about his life, “The Passion of Baseball”, is available at traditional book-buying sites, or at


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