Daily Notes: Five Notable Signings from the Indy Leagues

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Daily Notes.

1. Five Notable Signings from the Indy Leagues
2. Action Footage: Mike Benacka’s Excellent Changeup
3. Entirely Still Footage: Mike Benacka’s Virile Beard

Five Notable Signings from the Indy Leagues
The author has given some attention this offseason, by way of these Notes, to various independent and winter leagues. What follows is a list of five players who have both (a) excelled in one or the other of those types of leagues (i.e. independent or winter) and (b) been signed this offseason by a major-league organization.

Note: Ages listed are 2013 “baseball” ages — meaning age as of June 30, 2013. Other note: the author’s expertise in on this subject is not a matter of debate — which is to say, no one debates that he’s an expert.

Player: Mike Benacka, 30, RHP
2012 Line: 52.2 IP, 15.7 K/9, 6.0 BB/9 in American Association
Signing Club: Toronto Blue Jays
Notes: Member of Oakland system from 2008 to -11, after success in Frontier League in 2007-08. Has posted formidable strikeout and walk rates due to a combination of an excellent changeup and less excellent other pitches, it appears. Posted best regressed pitching in American Association in 2012. Did same thing in Mexican Pacific League this winter.

Player: Adam Buschini, 26, 2B
2012 Line: 439 PA, .354/.410/.562 in American Association
Signing Club: San Diego Padres
Notes: Native of Oakland, CA. Fourth-round pick out of Cal Poly by the Philadelphia in the 2009 draft. Released in 2011 by Phillies. Played in North American League in 2011; American Association, in 2012. Posted best regressed offensive line in Australian League this winter, nearly doubling next-best home-run total (with 15).

Player: Blake Gailen, 28, OF
2012 Line: 579 PA, .338/.415/.534 in Atlantic League
Signing Club: Colorado Rockies
Notes: Undrafted out of UNLV in 2007. Signed with Angels in 2011 and posted excellent plate-discipline numbers (14.3% BB, 12.6% K) at Double-A Arkansas but just .226 BABIP, and was subsequently released. Posted third-best regressed offensive line in Atlantic League in 2012. Named Baseball America’s Independent Leagues Player of the Year, as well.

Player: Chris Nowak, 30, CIF
2012 Line: 548 PA, .285/.391/.570 in Atlantic League
Signing Club: Arizona Diamondbacks
Notes: Has been discussed ad nauseam by the present author. Member of affiliated ball from 2004 to -11. Posted best regressed offensive line among Atlantic League hitters in 2012. Among best hitters in Venezuelan Winter League, as well, by that same measure.

Player: Chris Smith, 24, RHP
2012 Line: 129.1 IP, 8.1 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 in Frontier League
Signing Club: New York Yankees
Notes: Played with multiple clubs in Frontier League after leaving Kentucky Wesleyan, where he appears mostly to have played second base. Was effective, as numbers indicate, with Washingon in 2012. Was excellent with Brisbane in recently concluded Austrlian League season, posting that league’s best regressed pitching line.

Action Footage: Mike Benacka’s Excellent Changeup
Here’s an example — the only one on the internet, it appears — of Mike Benacka’s excellent changeup, by means of which pitch he struck out Escogido batter Ricardo Nanita to end the 12th inning of the marathon Caribbean Series championship game:

Benacka Nanita 2

Entirely Still Footage: Mike Benacka’s Virile Beard
Here’s entirely still footage, also from the Caribbean Series, of right-hander Mike Benacka’s giant and virile beard. (Click to make more giant and virile.)


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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.

12 Responses to “Daily Notes: Five Notable Signings from the Indy Leagues”

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  1. Fletch says:

    I am no scout, but that looks like a big league change-up to me.

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  2. Dan says:

    Benacka looks like a NASCAR in that photo.

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  3. Wil says:

    That beard alone is MLB ready.

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  4. No Barbaro Canizares, no cry.

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  5. gnomez says:

    I’m a little surprised by the Smith signing. I’ve seen several FL pitchers I’d take well before him. As far as starters go, Mike Recchia, Mark Brackman, and Matt Jernstad (depending on his post-Tommy John state) have impressed me quite a bit. Brandon Cunniff has been an excellent reliever. Although he’s had some command issues, I would venture to say that Patrick Crider has an MLB-caliber slider (trust me – it’s filthy).

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  6. JLP says:

    Regarding Brackman: he is a tough profile with a low slot and a mid 80s fastball. Very tall kid, but doesn’t use it to his advantage to create plane. No plus pitch, but he does throw strikes and has good makeup. I think indy ball is where his career ends. Cunniff’s size hurts him but he is another kid that could do well given the right organization. He is aggressive and go 90-92 in a short burst. Great makeup kid. He has had his cracks at getting signed lately. Benacka is mostly a one pitch guy. Nothing else grades out as average, but he does have the best change the league has seen in at least the last five years…perfected that pitch in 2008. 60 pitch at least, maybe a bit better. His attitude needs work to say the least though. gnomez, I am impressed at your familiarity with the Frontier League.

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  7. Robert J. Baumann says:

    I clicked on the beard and now I am pregnant. I’ll be suing for child support, Carson.

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  8. SteveSmo says:

    Recchia was an animal. Where the respect for him?

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  9. SteveSmo says:

    I saw that. Plus Baseball America All Star. He deserves alot of credit although people do not give it to him

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