Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz

Pitching is so precious to major league organizations that just a few outings can earn a prospect renewed opportunities.

This appears to be the case for James Needy, who measures 6-foot-6 and is only 26, because the right-hander who has missed two entire seasons since San Diego drafted him in the sixth round back in 2009, was given a new minor league contract by the Miami Marlins last month and promptly was shipped off to the prestigious Arizona Fall League.

And Needy owes a big ‘thank you’ to the Sioux City Explorers, who gave him an opportunity last spring after the San Diego native had missed the ’16 season.

He struck out 20 American Association hitters in three starts for Sioux City (1-0, 2.93) and three weeks later his contract was purchased by the Marlins.  He went a combined 3-3 with a 2.53 earned run average in seven starts in Class A (Jupiter, FL) and two more a level higher at Jacksonville in the Sunshine State.  Needy allowed only 33 hits in 46.1 innings and struck out 43, and that was good enough to get him the new contract and the opportunity in the AFL.

Needy did okay in his first two appearances, allowing one run in 3.2 innings, then struggled in two innings (five earned runs) in a start.  He should have a few more weeks to get better results for the Salt River Rafters.

The other AA grad in Arizona, first baseman-outfielder John Nogowski, also started last season at Sioux City before St. Louis picked up his contract.  He has only been in five games so far, going 4-for-18 (.222).

RailCats’ Triana Up One Level to Class AA

Right-hander Karl Triana, who came out of Gary and now plays in the Baltimore farm system, has been promoted to his highest level so far, Double-A Bowie.  The 25-year-old was 4-4 with a 3.50 ERA in 17 starts for the RailCats one year ago, then was 2-2, 5.95 in 10 relief appearances between stints on the disabled list with leg injuries for High-A Frederick.

Recently-signed Lincoln lefty Casey Crosby is listed with Triple-A Rochester, to begin his Minnesota Twins journey.

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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