Seven years and nearly 600 Independent games later, Blake Gailen is one step close to the Major Leagues.
Late last week, in the midst of another stellar season, the Toronto Blue Jays signed Lancaster Barnstormers' OF Blake Gailen to a minor league deal and assigned him to their Triple A affiliate in Buffalo.
Gailen is no stranger when it comes to receiving news this important.
Last year Gailen had one of the best Independent seasons ever. Playing for the Barnstormers, he put up staggering numbers; .338/.415/.534, with 26 doubles, three triples, 22 home runs, 89 RBI, and 25 stolen bases. His league leading .338 average was his second consecutive batting title. As a member of the Lincoln Saltdogs of the American Association in 2011, he topped the leader board with a Ted Williams-eque .406.
After being voted the teams’ MVP by the fans, earning the Atlantic League MVP award and Baseball America’s Independent Player of the Year, he signed with the Colorado Rockies organization, but was released on the last day of spring training.
Gailen returned to Lancaster, and continued to impress.
His numbers aren't as earth shattering as last year, but rank amongst the best in the league. According to the Atlantic League, he ranks fifth with a .385 on base percentage and fourth in runs scored (72). He leads the team in doubles with 35, to go along 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 Bisons.
At 28, Gailen still has plenty of years left in the game. He's taken the long road to get where he's going, but sometimes it's the diamonds in the rough that achieve what so many strive for.
Undrafted out of UNLV in 2007, Gailen has bucked the odds, while continuing to impress wherever he goes. A career .330/.413/.500 hitter, he knows how to play the game and gets the job done.
This might not register on the ESPN ticker, but it's another proud moment for the Atlantic League and for someone with a history of exceeding expectations.
Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.