Independent Baseball Insider – Vol. 12, No. 34, November 20, 2014
By Bob Wirz
It seems like a new trend for onetime Independent stars to head off to Japan or Korea for major paydays.
Andrew Albers (Quebec 2010) did just that (Korea) last season rather than face the long odds of being in Minnesota’s rotation, and another Twins southpaw, Kris Johnson (pictured, Kansas City 2011), recently signed with the Hiroshima Carp in Japan. Meanwhile, it would not be a shock to see seven-year Can-Am vet Chris Colabello (Worcester 2005-11, Nashua 2007) be next.
All three players have similar stories of falling just shy of regular major league jobs. Johnson, 30, was solid in Triple-A, but got only four starts (and three relief appearances) the last two years between Pittsburgh and Minnesota.
“I would love to stay with the Twins,” Colabello told the Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle recently. “I owe everything to this organization because of the opportunity they gave me when nobody else would” after his seventh season in the Can-Am League. Also 31, the first baseman-outfielder remains on Minnesota’s 40-man roster, but admits he does not know Minnesota’s plans so he would not rule out a trip overseas, where he could have had a $1 million pact last year. “It all depends on my situation,” he told the newspaper. “I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. It wasn’t the right thing for me last year.”
The lure of greater pay, while undoubtedly well short of Japan or Korea, will take American Association Player of the Year Brent Clevlen (Wichita 2014) to the Puebla Parakeets in the Triple-A Mexican League for the 2015 season. The outfielder won the American Association batting title at .372, and was among the top five in most other important offensive categories.
(Fans not yet getting the complete Independent Baseball Insider column, which will be published 36 times in 2014, may do so for as little as $6.99 at www.WirzandAssociates.com. Bob Wirz provides supplemental stories about Independent Baseball on his blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com. The author has 16 years of major league baseball experience with Kansas City and as chief spokesman for two Commissioners, and lives in Stratford, CT.)