2015 INDEPENDENT LEAGUE LINEUP
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John Raffel s a professional sports writer based out of Michigan. He was been covering
baseball on the high school, college, Minor and Major League levels for almost 40 years.
INDEPENDENT VIEW
By John Raffel
June 18, 2015

Austin Newell hasn't been wasting his time in his debut year with the Frontier League and the Florence
Freedom in Kentucky.He's quickly emerged as the league's top hitter and among its most impressive
performers in his fifth season of pro baseball. “It's been great, it's a great league,” Newell said. “I'm
surrounded by a bunch of great teammates and a great coaching staff. I'm lucky enough to be seeing the
ball really well right now. I'm finding some holes. I'm riding high as long as I can right now.”

This season after 29 games and 107 at bats, Newell is batting .374 with 10 doubles, four home runs, 19
RBIs and 13 walks. “At the beginning of the season I struggled a little bit,” Newell said. “After the
more at bats I got, the more confidence I got and I started to make adjustments I knew I needed to make.
It's come together for me.”

Newell started professional ball in 2011 with the Pecos League's Alpine Cowboys. The following season
for the Whitesands Pupfish. He batted .424 in 65 games with five home runs and 45 RBIs.

“Overall, throughout my years of independent baseball, I've been able to make adjustments,” Newell
said. “I've always hit for a pretty high average. “I think it's me being able to make adjustments and have
a feel for what the pitchers are going to throw to me and what they're trying to do to me in certain
situations.”

He saw action in 2013 with the Alexandria Aces of the United League and Grand Prairie AirHogs of the
American Association and played 75 games. He batted .324 with four home runs and 52 RBIs.
In 2014 Newell returned to the United League and split time between the Fort Worth Cats and the San
Angelo Colts. Newell batted .300 with the Colts in 44 games. He came in the 2015 season with a career
.345 batting average and .941 OPS in professional baseball.

The Freedom were in fifth place in the league at 41-55 as of June 18. “I'm still confident in my teammates,”
Newell said. “We had a pretty big skid lately. We're losing games we should have won and were finding
ways to lose. We've had some transactions lately and the last five or six games we've started putting some
things together. We're rejuvenated right now and are playing good baseball. We're hoping we can ride this
momentum that we're on right now and get something together. Our goal is to get back to .500 and then
go from there and see what kind of momentum we can take into the all-star break.” Newell has obviously
had many key hits but there are a few that really stick out.

Against the Gateway Grizzlies, the Freedom had the bases loaded during one special moment. “I came up
and we were down by a run and had a full count,” Newell recalled. “I hit a line drive to center to score two
runs for us which ended up being the game-winning runs. It was a big win for us and the most dramatic hit
I've had all season.”

Newell has taken pride in his abilities to be a clutch hitter this season. “I pride myself in being able to come
through in the clutch for my team,” he said. “Usually when that situation comes, I try to keep level headed
and not let the adrenalin get to me. I have found that the person who stays level headed and concentrates
the most is the guy who comes out in those situations.”

Newell started off in right field but later moved to left after a player transition.
“It took a little bit of adjusting but I'm pretty comfortable in both spots,” Newell said. “I spent a lot of time
in right field in certain years and a lot of time in left field in certain years. It's a little bit different as far as
how the ball flies and the type of hitters. It's nothing that's too overwhelming. I'm comfortable in both spots.”

Throughout the years, Newell has been trying to put on weight and get heavier.
“I feel like I don't cover as much ground as I used to,” he said. “But I feel I have a good glove out there
and use more of my head on certain situations like where the hitters have been hitting the ball more often
than not.”

Newell has wanted to get to the Frontier League ever since he's been out of college.
“I could never break into this league,” he said. “Now that I have I'm happy to be here. I would say my
ultimate goal like most guys here is to get to an affiliated team and be able to work my way up. That will
be my goal. Right now, I'm going game-by-game, hoping I can keep up my numbers and help the team win.”