Independent Baseball Chatter – By Bob Wirz

After the return of Tanner Scheppers (Texas) and Caleb Thielbar (Minnesota) boosted the American Association’s Independent Baseball-leading count of current major leaguers to eight, one other graduate of the league received a return trip on Tuesday.

Lefty Ian Thomas (Winnipeg, 2009-11) was recalled by Atlanta after allowing only one hit in 6.1 scoreless innings spread over four relief outings in the young minor league system.  Making it even more impressive is the fact his first two appearances were for Class AA Mississippi, then he was moved up to Triple-A Gwinnett for the last two.  He did not walk anyone in the four performances while striking out seven.

Thomas, who turned 28 on Monday, broke into the majors at the start of last season, and put together a 1-2 record and 4.22 earned run average for 16 games before going back to the minors.

Scheppers started the season on the Rangers’ disabled list while Thielbar opened at Triple-A Rochester.  Both played for St. Paul when they were in the American Association.

Chris Martin Solid in Yankees’ Bullpen

The other relative major league newcomer via the American Association is the New York Yankees’ Chris Martin, who started his pro career in Grand Prairie back in 2010 after virtually giving up the game because of a series of shoulder woes.  This 28-year-old right-hander won his job with a spring training in which he walked one and struck out 18 in 11 innings, and he has not had many bumps since the regular season started.

Martin got a jolt of confidence when he struck out the imposing Toronto trio of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson in order in his Yanks debut.  He has appeared in six more games, with Manager Joe Girardi often calling his name between the fifth and seventh innings, and has allowed only two earned runs in 5.2 innings (3.18 ERA) while allowing four hits and a walk and whiffing seven.

“You’ve got to set your mind down there (in the bullpen) just to be ready any time during the game,” he told “I’ve been doing this long enough to have a good mindset [for it].”

Martin got his first taste of the majors last season when he appeared in 16 games for Colorado (0-0, 6.75).

Previously the chief spokesman for 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 as well as writing his blog,


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