Seven years and nearly 600 independent league games later, Blake Gailen is one step closer to the major leagues.
Gailen is no stranger when it comes to receiving such important news.
Last year, Gailen had one of the best independent league seasons ever. Playing for the Barnstormers, he put up staggering numbers with a stat line of .338/.415/.534 to go with 26 doubles, three triples, 22 home runs, 89 RBI and 25 stolen bases.
His league-leading .338 average won him his second consecutive batting title. As a member of the Lincoln Saltdogs of the American Association in 2011, he topped the league with a Ted Williams-esque .406 batting average.
After being voted the Saltdogs' MVP by the fans, earning the Atlantic League MVP award and Baseball America’s Independent League Player of the Year, Gailen signed with the Colorado Rockies organization, but was released on the last day of spring training.
Gailen returned to Lancaster this season and continued to impress.
His numbers aren't as earth-shattering as last year, but rank among the best in the league. According to the Atlantic League's website, he ranks fifth in on-base percentage at .385 and fourth in runs scored (72). He leads the Barnstormers in doubles with 35 with 11 home runs and 52 RBI. His .288 average ranks fourth on the team.
Since signing his minor league deal, Gailen is batting .333 in seven games with the Buffalo Bisons.
At 28, Gailen still has plenty of years left in the game. Undrafted out of UNLV in 2007, Gailen has bucked the odds while continuing to impress. A career .330/.413/.500 hitter, Gailen has shown that he knows how to play the game.
While his signing might not register on the ESPN ticker, it's another big moment for the Atlantic League, as well as for Gailen, who has a history of exceeding expectations.