The cream rises to the top.
In a few short years the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Independent Atlantic League have set multiple attendance records, despite being around for only a brief amount of time. In 2012, their first full ATL season, they set a modern day Independent League team record by drawing nearly 470,000 fans to the games (465,511). Sugar Land also topped the Indy leagues in attendance in 2013 and 2014.
The Skeeters have a strong and loyal fan base, no one is doubting that, but they also some very good MLB calibre players who take the field for them on a daily basis.
In their history, three-time All-Star Scott Kazmir began his long road back to the Show with the Skeeters. Roger Clemens and his “comeback” drew enormous ratings. Tracy McGrady, best known for his superb NBA career, lived a dream when he took the mound for them in 2014. McGrady was more of a publicity stunt if you look at it from afar, though he put in the work and legitimately made the team out of Spring Training.
Jason Lane, who has significant MLB experience, mostly with the Houston Astros, used his time in Sugar Land to adapt and improve. Lane, a former 6th round pick of the Houston Astros out of USC in the 1999 MLB June Amateur Draft, once hit 27 home runs for the Astros. Lane was also a standout pitcher in college, flourished on the mound at USC going 9-5 with a 3.17 ERA and led the team in innings pitched with over 110. In three years with the Skeeters, Lane, once again on the bump, became one of the best pitchers in the league. In 36 games he went 17-9 with a 3.06 ERA and a .998 WHIP.
Not household names, but the 2015 roster is filled with guys who have been “there” and are looking to leverage their time in Sugar Land to springboard themselves back into the eyes of scouts everywhere.
Brooks Conrad, a six-year MLB veteran who created a name for himself with the Atlanta Braves, brings a level of experience and versatility that’s second to none. Delwyn Young spent five years in the bigs splitting time with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates. He was named the Skeeters MVP in 2014 after hitting 289 with 20 homers and driving in 88. Denny Almonte has been in the game for a long time. A former second round pick of the Seattle Mariners in the 2nd round of the 2007 MLB June Amateur Draft from Florida Christian School, has over 850 games of minor league experience. His best season came in 2011 when he spent time with the Seattle Mariners High A team and the Australian Baseball League where he clubbed 32 home runs and drove in 132 base runners.
A Coles Notes version of the Skeeters current roster doesn’t do them justice. With a plethora of great ballplayers taking the field everyday, it’s no wonder they’re a success on the field and at the turnstile. The Indy baseball season is fresh out of the gate, but you can bet more than one success story is bound to occur.