JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Michael Schlact, a 6’7″ pitcher who played in the Texas Rangers’ farm system from 2005-10, has signed a contract with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.

“I’m very blessed and excited for the opportunity to play ball in the (independent) Atlantic League,” Schlact wrote on his popular Twitter feed. The Atlantic League is not affiliated with MLB.

Drafted out of high school in the 3rd round of the 2004 amateur draft, Schlact started strong, going 10-7 with a 4.17 ERA, 90 strikeouts, and 37 walks with the “A” Clinton LumberKings in 2005.

But he hasn’t had a winning season since then (see stats), and in 2009, Schlact had shoulder surgery that he says hurt his 2010 performance. Here’s what he told last month:

I had shoulder surgery in July of 2009, and that required a 12-14-month healing process. So it wasn’t really until the end of last season that I was feeling like myself again. I didn’t feel like I had the time to really prove myself. So now my main focus is convincing teams that the surgery was a success and that there are no [injury] worries with me.

In a recent entry on his blog, Schlact said he understood why MLB teams would be hesitant to sign him, predicted that he would be recruited by an independent-league team, and said he would happily sign:

As I’ve said throughout this entire free agency process, I love the game too much to just give up. I have more to offer, and more to prove. My ultimate goal is to play in the Major Leagues, and this could be the stepping stone I’ll need to get there. Throughout the indy ball season, MLB scouts frequent the games. They are looking for guys to sign, and knowing that the independent leagues are home to mostly former affiliated ball guys with good experience, that’s where they’ll look to find it.

We’ll keep tabs on Michael as the season progresses.

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