A couple of days ago Aaron reported that Mark Prior had been signed to a Minor League deal by the Texas Rangers. Before signing the deal, he had been putting up some pretty decent numbers for the... wait for it... the Orange County Flyers of the Golden Baseball League.
With the Flyers, he had pitched 11 innings, giving up one unearned run, five hits, and had walked five batters. That's not anything to write home about, but there is one little stat that jumps out. He struck out 22.
I guess the real question is- who plays in the Golden Baseball League? I mean, I could probably strike out 22 5th graders over 11 innings myself. I decided to do a little research and see what I could find out about Priors’ recent competition.
The Golden Baseball League is an independent league based in San Ramon California consisting of teams in the western United States, western Canada, and Mexico. It is not affiliated with MLB or the Minor League Baseball system.
Some notable players who have played in the Golden Baseball League are Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco, Alex Arias, and Jose Lima (post-MLB careers, however).
The level of play in the Golden Baseball League has been stated by officials in the baseball industry to be consistent with that of Double A Minor League baseball.
Since starting in 2005, five players have made the jump to the Major Leagues- Adam Pettyjohn, Scott Richmond, Chris Jakubauskas, Sergio Romo, and Daniel Nava. The best of the best, obviously.
If the talent level is indeed comparable to Double A ball, striking out 22 hitters in 11 innings seems to be indication that Prior still has something left in the tank. How that will translate moving forward and how his arm will hold up will be another question.
If nothing else, it will be exciting to see Prior back in a big league uniform doing towel exercises.