The Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball signed 32-year-old catcher Todd Jennings to a deal on Monday.
Jennings was originally drafted in the second round by the San Francisco Giants back in 2003. He signed a $620,000 contract with the club. He was a one of the Giants' top prospects in 2003 and 2004. In his two seasons playing in Short-Season, he batted .304/.348/.416 while launching six homers and driving in 43 RBI.
As Jennings moved up through the Giants' farm system, his offensive statistics decreased. In his three seasons in High-A, he batted .266/.312/.355 while blasting eleven homers and driving in 105 RBI. His hitting took a huge drop off when he reached the Double-A level. He batted just .206/.249/.249 while hitting just one homer and driving in 32 RBI in his time in Double-A. Despite a measly performance at the plate in Double-A in 2006 and 2007, Jennings was promoted to Triple-A Fresno. It was there where his baseball career nearly came to an abrupt halt.
The date was May 2, 2008. It was a cool night at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska, as the Fresno Grizzlies took on the Omaha Royals. In the top of the first inning, with a man on third base and one out in the inning, Omaha's second baseman Mike Aviles hit a fly ball to left field. Fresno's left fielder Justin Leone made the catch as Omaha's center fielder Mitch Maier tagged up at third base, and began heading towards home in an attempt to plate Omaha's first run of the game. As Leone heaved the ball from left field towards home plate, Maier -- a 6'3", 200-plus pound outfielder -- was busting down the third base line. Leone's throw was up the third base line, and Jennings dropped down to his knees to field the throw from left field. As Jennings knelt between Maier and home plate, Maier lowered his shoulder and barreled into Jennings.
It was a nasty home plate collision. Jennings was able to hold on to the ball and record the final out of the inning, but he had severely injured his leg in the process. Jennings tore multiple ligaments in his left knee, including his MCL, and broke his left ankle. Three days after he suffered the injury, he underwent surgery to repair the ligaments in his left knee. After recovering from his leg injuries, Jennings was able to play baseball again in 2009. However, he would once again suffer a season-ending injury.
Jennings was participating in some drills during the off-season following the 2008 season. While practicing gunning down runners at second base, he tore a ligament in his right elbow while making a throw to second base. On March 3, 2009, he underwent Tommy John Surgery to repair the ligaments in his elbow.
He was granted costless agency by the San Francisco Giants in November of 2009. However, he would re-signed with the Giants in January of 2010, only to be released by the club less than three months later.
Jennings has played Independent baseball every season since 2010 -- including 45 games in the Atlantic League. He has played a total of 350 games in Independent baseball leagues, batting .244/.318/.286 along with four homers and 123 RBI in five seasons.
Jennings was released by the Sioux City Explorers of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball on August 1. Now that he is a member of the Sugar Land Skeeters, he will certainly be hoping that his time in Sugar Land can land him a second chance in affiliated ball.