In this file photograph, Sam Eberle slams a home run for Notre Dame High School during the 2006 3-AA championship game at Engel Stadium. He later starred at Jacksonville State and this week will join the Florence (Ky.) Freedom in the Frontier League.
Sam Eberle fielded a disappointing, if not devastating, call in January.
It was the San Francisco Giants telling him that after just a year in their system they were cutting him loose.
"I figured I would get at least spring training to prove myself again," the ex-Notre Dame High School standout said. "Last year I had a good first half and then slumped a little in the second. As a senior sign, you pretty much get one shot. I always knew [getting released] was a possibility."
Eberle, who went from Notre Dame to Jacksonville State, caught on quickly, although signing with the Florence (Ky.) Freedom of the Frontier League isn't quite the same as being in a major league farm system.
"I signed with them in February," said Eberle, who'll leave later this week for a mini-spring training with the Freedom. "I'm hoping to go up there and play well. I'd like to start off well hoping that a scout sees me and wants to sign me to a new MLB team."
Eberle, who was primarily a catcher in the latter part of his Notre Dame career, made the shift to outer infield at Jax State and was signed by Florence as a first baseman.
He actually played first base and third base last year for the Giants' short-season Class A team in Keizer, Ore., hitting five home runs and 19 doubles.
"I want to go up there and have fun with it. If a team wants to sign me, that would be the best that could happen. If it doesn't work out, I have my (business administration) degree. I'm trying it one more time. The Frontier League is a good independent league and there are a number of guys that wind up signing with a major league team."
Brand has indy hopes
Cole Brand, the former Bradley Central power pitcher who spurned a Clemson scholarship offer for the St. Louis Cardinals, is another independent league candidate. He is recovering from shoulder surgery.
"Last year it didn't feel right. I was only throwing 88-89 mph, which isn't what I'm used to throwing," Brand said. "The doctor told me I probably hurt it when I was in my early teens. I will be throwing for some teams in May, and I will be playing ball somewhere by the summer if things go as they have been."
Ryan Casteel, Brand's battery mate part of the time at Bradley, is faring well early in the season for the Tulsa Drillers. He's batting .282 with two homers, two doubles and six RBIs in 39 plate appearances.
Brookshire in Peoria
A player who was overlooked when we listed Chattanooga-area guys in pro baseball was McCallie's Chase Brookshire, a left-handed pitcher. In his first full minor league season, he is playing for the Peoria (Ill.) Chiefs.
District 5-AAA changed its rules this year regarding the postseason, but so far no one has been able to take advantage.
The coaches voted to allow the regular-season champion an automatic region berth if that team has two more league wins than any other.
Bradley Central is currently a game ahead of Soddy-Daisy and East Hamilton. Bradley had a two-game series with Ooltewah set for Monday and tonight, while Soddy-Daisy is playing Cleveland and East Hamilton is meeting McMinn County.
The district tournament winner would get to host a region semifinal, while the runner-up, or possibly the regular-season champ, would travel for the region.
The tournament championship again will be decided at Sequatchie County, but 7-AA coaches did something unique for the Chattanooga area this season. In addition to playing two-game series (home and home), their teams also participated in an early season league-only tournament.
"No more district won-loss splits," Signal Mountain coach Bumper Reese said. "We're not depending on run differential to settle ties. Each team will have played the other district members three times."
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...