Oakland Ballers add three players after open tryout, including first woman signed by MLB

The Oakland Ballers independent league baseball team signed three players after their open tryout last weekend at Oakland’s Laney College, including the first woman who ever signed a professional contract with a Major League Baseball partner team.

Right-handed pitcher Kelsie Whitmore, infielder Andrew Martinez, and right-handed pitcher Connor Caporale will attend the team’s spring training in May.

Kelsie Whitmore (Courtesy mlb.com)

Whitmore, from Temecula in Southern California, made history in 2022 as the first woman to sign a professional contract with an MLB partner league team as a member of the Staten Island FerryHawks of the Atlantic League.

Whitmore’s first professional baseball appearances came in Northern California, playing for the Sonoma Stompers in 2016-17.

Martinez, a San Francisco native who went to St. Francis High School, was drafted twice out of UC Santa Barbara — first by Miami in the 33rd round of the 2018 MLB Draft, and then by Baltimore in the 24th round in 2019. He spent three years in the Baltimore system, reaching as high as High-A Aberdeen, before spending the 2022 and 2023 seasons in independent leagues.

Caporale is from Vacaville and spent his college career at Simpson University in Redding. Caporale spent the summer of 2023 in the Coastal Plain League with the Wilson Tobs in North Carolina, before getting his first professional experience with the Westside Woolly Mammoths of the United Shores League in Michigan.

The Ballers now have 31 players under contract going into spring training. The Pioneer League, which the Ballers joined, will hold one more league tryout camp April 16-18 in Scottsdale, Arizona. All 12 PBL teams will be in attendance and the Ballers hold the first overall pick in the camp’s draft.

Visit the Pioneer League website for more information on the camp.

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