Every year, teams have to look at their major league roster and see who's contract up, and if they are worth resigning, or if they can be resigned. Free agency is a huge part of the game at the major league level. Sometimes blockbuster deals blow up in a team's face and sometimes the smallest signings can reap big rewards. What a lot of people don't pay too much attention to, though, is that there is also a minor league version of the same free agency game. At the end of every season, hundreds of players become minor league free agents and have to figure out where to sign for the next season.
A minor league free agent is simply a player whose contract runs out while he is not playing in the majors, or on a 40-man roster. A player can't become a minor league free agent until he has accumulated 6 full seasons of minor league ball (not counting independent leagues or time on the 40-man roster), unless he is released by the parent club before his 6 years are up. After 6 years, you are free to sign with any club as a minor or major league free agent. If a player does sign another minor league contract, most of the time it will be a one year deal, to keep options open for the coming seasons.
Most major league teams will sign somewhere between 10-20 minor league free agents before spring training each season. With some of the better ones, invitations will also be given to major league camp. Minor league free agents play a big role for the parent clubs. Not only do they help fill out rosters, but they also are there to try to provide valuable backup if a man on the major league team should go down.
With all that said, here is an early look at the players, who by my best guestimate, will be minor league free agents at the end of the season, unless the Brewers add them to the 40-man roster:
Offensive Player Of The Week:
Even though DJ Clark came into the week batting about .200, with only 3 home runs to his credit, everyone in the organization knew that he was capable of a whole lot more. And, this past week, he proved them right. Despite the High Desert Mavericks playing most of their games this past week away from the hitter friendly confines of their home stadium, the 22 year old Clark still managed to turn is game around and hit a whopping .347/.500/.783 in 7 games (23 at-bats) this past week. He jacked 3 home runs, added a double, drove in 9 runs, walked 8 times and crossed the plate 7 times. A lefthanded thirdbaseman with a powerful bat, DJ was drafted fairly late in the draft, in the 17th round, out of UNC Charlotte back in 2000. He is listed at 6'2, 205.
Last Week: Pete Zoccolillo, OF, High Desert
April 29th: Corey Hart, 1B, High Desert
April 22nd: Ryan Thompson, OF, Indianapolis
April 15th: Ryan Knox, OF, High Desert
Pitcher Of The Week:
High Desert continues their run on players of the week with another pitcher of the week, and this time kudos go to Ryan Miller. After an up and down year last season in Beloit, Ryan actually seems to be pitching better in the hitter-friendly Cal League, and this last week was no exception. Ryan started 2 games and worked 11 innings, and gave up only 1 earned run (a 0.82 ERA) on a scant 3 hits and 5 walks. The lone earned run came on a solo home run. Ryan also struck out 9 men. Ryan was the 8th player ever drafted by Dean Taylor, as he was taken in the 9th round of the 2000 draft out of the University of Evansville. The 24 year old Miller is listed at 6'1, 200 pounds, and he throws with his right hand.
Last Week: Doug Dent, SP, High Desert
April 29th: Justin Gordon, SP, High Desert
April 22nd: Brian Nielsen, SP, Beloit
April 15th: Andrew Lorraine, SP, Indianapolis
Team Of The Week:
For the second consecutive week, the worst team in the organization during the first month of the season is the team of the week. The Huntsville Stars churned out another solid week, going 4-2 against their opponents and are slowly creeping their way back into the playoff chase. Once again, pitching was the key to the Stars' success, as 4 pitchers didn't allow an earned run and 4 others had ERAs of under 3.00. The offense, while still not spectacular, drove in a lot of timely runs, and when they hit the ball, they hit it hard. The Stars had 10 doubles, a triple and 4 home runs despite having only 39 total hits for the week.
Last Week: Huntsville Stars
April 29th: None
April 22nd: High Desert Mavericks
April 15th: Indianapolis Indians