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CHARLES, FITZSIMMONS JUMP TO TRIPLE-A IN RULE 5 DRAFT
Independent Baseball Chatter - by Bob Wirz

Two of this year's Can-Am stars found themselves in greater demand when Major League Baseball held its Rule 5 draft at the winter meetings in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday.

The big name was Independent Baseball and Can-Am Player of the Year Art Charles, when Milwaukee plucked the big first baseman. He was not the first Can-Am player to have his name called, though, as Arizona grabbed 2015-16 Quebec righty Jon Fitzsimmons from Cleveland two spots earlier.

HOT-HITTING FUENMAYOR SIGNS WITH BRAVES
Independent Baseball Chatter - by Bob Wirz

Add onetime Independent Player of the Year Balbino Fuenmayor to the mix as the Atlanta Braves juggle faces in the organization prior to the move to a new stadium and, hopefully, a better position in the National League East standings.

The slugging first baseman (and occasional third baseman) shed his free agent status by signing with the Braves. Granted, it is a minor league deal and Freddie Freeman is the standard bearer at the position for the major league team, but after using a variety of players there last summer TomahawkTake.com points out Fuenmayor "will provide a more stable asset at first."

CAN-AM BULLPEN STARS MOVING UP IN AFFILIATED RANKS
Independent Baseball Chatter - by Bob Wirz

Alex Powers (pictured), who impressed Cincinnati brass when he pitched for the New Jersey Jackals in '15, has been jumped two levels by the Reds, who now have him on the roster of their top farm club in Louisville.

Fellow right-hander Jon Fitzsimmons, who cut his teeth with the Quebec Capitales in the 2015 season and until August this year, has been promoted by American League champion Cleveland to Class AA Akron.

MONTCLAIR-TO-CINNCINATI PIPELINE CONTINUES: REDS ADD HELLWEG
Fourth Jackal picked up by Cincinnati in 2016

Durham, N.C. -- The contract of New Jersey Jackals RHP Johnny Hellweg was purchased by the Cincinnati Reds organization on Wednesday.

Hellweg joined New Jersey in July and was stellar in 20 appearances for the Jackals, 19 of them out of the bullpen. The Ann Arbor, Mich., native went 3-1 with a 3.43 ERA, fanning 30 hitters in 20.1 innings of work.

CUBS PROMOTE ONETIME TROIS-RIVIERES HURLER
Independent Baseball Chatter - by Bob Wirz

Onetime Trois-Rivieres pitcher Nick Sarianides is looking like he might get in on some of the fun the World Series-champion Chicago Cubs are enjoying.

Less than three years removed from the Can-Am League, the 27-year-old Georgian impressed in his first part-season in the Cubs' farm system to the point the National League champions have given him a new contract and promoted him to Triple-A Iowa. Sarianides started last season in the Arizona chain, but pitched his last 22 games for Chicago's Southern League (Class AA) Tennessee Smokies, posting superb statistics.

FORMER JACKAL JOHNNY WALTER AT DOUBLE-A FOR CARDINALS
Independent Baseball Chatter - by Bob Wirz

Johnny Walter accomplished a great deal for a 25-year-old pitcher this past season, starting out by striking out more than one hitter per inning and posting a 3-0, 1.00 record with the New Jersey Jackals, then joining the St. Louis Cardinals organization barely a month after the Can-Am League season started.

The Cardinals obviously like what they saw by keeping the New Jersey native on the Springfield (AA) roster as they look toward next season.

 
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