As we count down the days to spring training, it's got to be a stressful time to be a minor league free agent. As of yesterday the organization had 21 minor leaguers become eligible for free agency this winter and six have re-signed with the team, while two (infielder Josh Wilson and outfielder Brandon Boggs) have moved on to other franchises. Mitch Stetter and Sean Green signed with the Rangers yesterday. Eleven more, however, are still looking for work and for some of them this may be the end of the line. Here's a quick look at the guys who are still out there, according to Baseball America:
Mark DiFelice, RP (Age 35)
DiFelice has been a great story as he's bounced back from a couple of career-threatening injuries and a stint in independent ball, but he appeared in just three games as a Brewer last season and 17 more in the minors. He's 35 years old now and it's hard to believe there are too many teams looking for a pitcher who carries significant injury risks.
Felipe Lopez, IF (Age 31)
Lopez helped fill the gap for a little while when Rickie Weeks got injured this season, but played in just 16 games and hit .182/.245/.182 before being sent down to AAA. Lopez has played in the majors for six organizations in the last four seasons, leading one to suspect that no one is too excited about having him around.
Robert Hinton, RP (Age 27)
I almost feel like this has to be a typo - that Hinton signed somewhere but it wasn't announced publicly or something. I mentioned Hinton back in this post on MiLB FA's in November, but here's the short version: He's only 27 and posted a 2.47 ERA and 9.7 strikeouts per nine between AA and AAA last season. Unless there's something wrong with him he probably deserves an invite to big league camp somewhere.
Justin James, RP (Age 30)
James is a guy we talked a lot about at this time last year: He was a former indy leaguer who had an excellent season pitching in the minors for the A's and made his major league debut in 2010 before the Brewers claimed him off waivers. He was much less impressive in the minors for the Brewers in 2011, and now the indy leagues might be his best bet again.
Jordan Brown, 1B/OF (Age 28)
Acquired from the Indians early in the year, Brown played in 100 games for Nashville and put up solid numbers, batting .317/.340/.465 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Brown played 73 of those games in left field, and the fact that he's only a first baseman/corner outfielder probably limits his value. He's still reasonably young, though, so you have to figure he'll find work somewhere.
Brendan Katin, OF (Age 28)
Katin has been a very prolific minor league hitter over the last seven years (hitting .269/.337/.508 over 676 games), but the Brewers have left him in Nashville for each of the last four seasons so they mustn't feel like he has much to contribute at the big league level. He was limited to 34 games in 2011 by a knee injury, and may have to go to indy ball to prove he's healthy.
Zack Segovia, RP (Age 29)
The Brewers were Segovia's fourth organization in his ninth minor league season in 2011 and he posted a 3.98 ERA in 45 relief appearances for Nashville. He'll probably find a spot in someone's AAA bullpen again in 2012 if he's healthy.
Shawn Riggans, C (Age 31)
Riggans was invited to big league camp in 2011 but health issues prevented him from taking part, and he appeared in just seven games for Huntsville. He's a career .292/.353/.450 hitter in the minors, so he could go to indy ball with a chance to resurrect his career.
Chase Wright, SP/RP (Age 28)
The Brewers acquired Wright via a minor trade back in 2009 and he's pitched the last three of his eleven minor league seasons in the organization. He had easily his worst campaign in 2011, posting a 6.86 ERA over 28 appearances between AA and AAA and a WHIP only slightly below 2. The Brewers signed him to a minor deal with no invite to spring training late last offseason, and it's possible they could do the same this year.
Anderson Machado, SS (Age 30)
2011 was Machado's 13th minor league season and he hit just .141/.253/.188 in 36 games between AA and AAA. When you're capable of playing shortstop and even the Brewers don't re-sign you, the writing is probably on the wall.
Sam Narron, SP (Age 30)
2011 was Narron's fifth season in AAA and his fourth with Nashville. He has a career 4.81 ERA at that level and just 4.4 strikeouts per nine. He played indy ball briefly in 2010 and might be headed there again in 2012.