Our 2023 All-Indy Team lineup is here! It’s our 2nd annual nod to the top talent from the independent circuits and bring you the best two hitters and pitchers who’ve shown exceptional skill and determination on the field.
This isn’t just about stats and strikeouts. It’s about spotlighting the under-the-radar players who deserve another shot. The heart, the hustle, the incredible stories—it’s all there.
As I dived into their journeys, there was triumph and adversity that went beyond the ball field. These guys have something special, and it’s time we share it with the sports world.
So here’s to the unsung heroes of baseball. May their stories inspire and perhaps even catch the eye of someone who can turn their indie success into a Major opportunity.
What can Cordero do for an encore except dominate pitching in arguably the toughest, most sought-after platform in all of Independent baseball. Cordero was named Atlantic League POY in October and is the first player to be named to consecutive All-Indy Teams.
He led the ATL in RBI with 116 and hit .339, good for second in the league. He slugged over .500 for the second consecutive season to go along with 40 doubles and 15 home runs. He spent 5 years in the Rangers organization peaking at AA Frisco.
The former 3rd round pick of the Washington Nationals turned a lot of heads in his first independent Season. Mendoza set career highs in every offensive category, all while leading the Atlantic League in average at .346 and OPS (.998).
His career hasn’t gone as expected, but the former Reds 5th-round pick put together a career year in 2023. Kahaloa was second in the league in K’s with 143 and topped the ATL in innings pitched (151.1). He also tied for the league lead in games started at 24.
Mickey Jannis, a veteran of 340 games over 13 years, just had the best season of his life. He led the league in wins (14), tied for second in innings pitched and games started behind Kahaloa and was top ten in ERA at 4.01. Jannis, who was fourth among all ALPB pitchers with 16 assists earned a spot on the Red, White and Blue All-Defensive Team.
Our second back-to-back All-Indy Team recipient took his game to the next level. Hitting over .370 for two consecutive years is impressive. Quadrupling his home runs (3 to 11) and going from 22 stolen bases to 71 in a single season is beyond remarkable.
Herrmann spent 2022 in Triple-A with the Rochester Red Wings, but with eight years and 379 games of MLB experience under his belt, the game’s ups and downs are no surprise. A monster 2023 season where he ranked in the top five in average, home runs, and RBI (.355/23/88) may bring him back to the bigs sooner rather than later.
Consistent is Kevin McGovern. Arguably a more dominant 2023 compared to his 2022 campaign earned him the All-Indy team honours for consecutive years. McGovern led the league with a 3.11 ERA, was tied for 3rd in wins (9) and 4th in K’s (101).
Bates, the 2023 American Association Pitcher of the Year was well deserved. He was primarily a reliever for four years within the Giants org. In his first year in the starter role, he made sure there was no doubting his impact on the pitching staff. Bates was top five in wins and ERA.
He also tied for first in games started (20) and led the league in strikeouts and innings pitched (126.0).
After splitting 2022 between the Yankees A/AA affiliates and Lexington Legends of the Atlantic League, Nelson took the Frontier League by storm. He led the league with a .388 BA and tied for first in home runs (30).
Typically home runs and RBI will get you noticed, but it’s the other aspects of someone’s game that often get overlooked. Richards led the Frontier League in stolen bases with 75, tied for second in OBP at .472, was third in walks and top five in runs scored.
It’s not easy to repeat success in this game, but Cook did just that. Cook littered the leaderboard leading the Frontier League in wins with 12, ERA at 2.23, innings pitched, and winning percentage (.857). Forgot to mention he came in second with 131 K’s. Every major statistic was an improvement over his 2022 season.
Sullivan was the ace of the West leading Gateway Grizzlies. He was on point the entire season, his first as a starter since his collegiate days at South Florida. Sullivan dethroned Cook and led the league in K’s with 137. He was also top five in wins and ERA and led the FL surrendering the least amount of hits (87) amongst qualified starters.
After splitting his 2022 season between NAIA’s Vanguard University and the Grand Junction Jackalopes, there’s little doubt that he’s among the best in all of independent baseball. Johnson topped the Frontier League in doubles, hits, and was third in RBI (106). For conversation purposes, his OPS was a ridiculous 1.091.
Johnson’s teammate was jockeying atop the leaderboard as well. Bumping his average over nearly 60 points year over year to .377 is not too shabby. Equally is coming in the top five in home runs and RBI.
Undrafted out of Adams State University, Villa was a league Triple Crown winner in 2023. He led the Pioneer League in wins (13), ERA (2.82) and strikeouts (129). Let’s brag some more. Villa led the league in innings pitched, K/9, and tied for first in games started. Again, he went undrafted? It has been reported that the Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year will return to Missoula for the 2024 season.
Villa’s teammate Connor Schultz had a solid season. Tough to top a Triple Crown winner, but he held his own. Schultz was atop the leaderboard in WHIP (1.17) and second in ERA (3.82).
No surprise here. Rooks was named Pecos League Mountain Division Offensive Player of the Year. The Pecos League ranks their players on hitter’s and pitcher’s scoring systems. Rooks topped both the Mountain and Pacific leagues with a 363 score. For our mainstream fans, you’ll understand why he was regarded as the best of the best; 24 home runs, 84 RBI, .470 avg., 20 stolen bases…All in 44 games.
Antonellis ranked third amongst all qualified hitters in both divisions with a 358-hitter score. The Pacific Division Hitter of the year hit .500 with 19 big flies and drove in 87 in 37 games.
Valasek, who has been creating his own success as a coach, proved at 28 that he still has what it takes to win games. He was named unanimous Pecos League Pacific Division Pitcher of the Year. In 64 innings, he struck out 94 while compiling a 1.67 ERA. His 145 Pitcher Score was double the next closest in the Pacific Division.
In a game where saves are not valued as it once was, Spagnuolo was not as forgiving. He led the league in saves (7), was amongst the leaders in appearances, sported a 2.62 ERA and was the top dog in the Mountain Division with a 92 Pitcher Score.
Davis was the leaderboard in his second USPBL season. It’s a laundry list, but here it is. Davis was a leader in or top 5 in the following: AVG, SLG, OBP, runs scored, hits, RBI, 2B, 3B, HR, total bases, walks, SB’s and total plate appearances.
Burke came into his own during his third season in the USPBL. His eight home runs and 30 RBI were first in the league. He also hit career highs in all offensive categories.
Huffman did it all in his first professional campaign. He appeared in 20 games and started nine. He held opponents to a paltry .161 BA. He was first in strikeouts (79), first in hits allowed against (31), number two in ERA (2.95), and third in IP (55).
Martin’s stats aren’t the typical eye candy people are used to seeing, but he was the guy who got results. If it weren’t for Huffman, Martin would’ve overtaken the league in strikeouts. He also led in wins (6) and innings pitched.
Hawks slashine – .427/.612/.548. No joke either is leading in hits and SBs. No wonder he’s a Top 10 prospect going into the 2024 Empire League season.
For a second, just think about this. In 67 AB’s, Tuner launched seven bombs and drove in 30. Again, in 67 at-bats. Check this out! He slugged .925 with an OBP of .511. He was later signed by the MLB Partnered Frontier League.
Second, only to William Shea in Innings pitched, Telemaco one-upped him in wins, games started and ERA.
A short but productive season saw Shea stand out. Promotion to the Frontier league was fueled by a statistical side-by-side that you don’t see often. He was first in strikeouts and had the fewest amount of free passes turned in by a qualified starter.