The Texas League canceled its All-Star game, as have the AA Eastern League and low-A Midwest League.
As for the regular minor league season, we’re one-fifth through the schedule but no closer to actual games. I’d written a paragraph about the how, unlike MLB, the minors couldn’t subsist on fan-free games, but then I found a quote
from MiLB Senior Director of Communications Jeff Lantz that sums the situation better: “We will not play in front of no fans. It's a business-model issue, really. If they send the players to us, we have to have fans. Otherwise, everything is in the red. If we turn on the stadium lights for a game, it's $5,000. If we don't have any fans buying tickets and buying concessions, we don't have a way to pay for those lights.”
Per Baseball America, seven of 33 summer amateur circuits they track have already called off 2020, including the Cape Cod League. Numerous others have announced delays. The independent professional American Association postponed its season until July. Winnipeg owner Sam Katz is more blunt: “The bottom line is there’s a strong possibility that there will not be a season.”
In the last week, the owner of the short-season Hudson Valley Renegades and the bus driver for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans have died from COVID-19. Korea
ESPN acquired rights to the Korea Baseball Organization, which began on Tuesday. Live games begin between midnight and 4:30 AM CDT, and the network will rebroadcast them at more palatable hours. Mykbostats.com
is an invaluable resource for following the league and foreign-born players. Korea’s ten teams include several ex-Rangers:
LHP Chad Bell (Hanwha) – Hanwha was 58-86 last year but don’t blame Bell, who posted a 3.50 ERA in 177 innings and didn’t allow a run in five of his final eight starts. Texas drafted Bell in 2009’s 14th round. After eight years in the organization, he became a Tiger in exchange for catcher Bobby Wilson and pitched 69 innings for Detroit across the next two seasons.
RHP Jake Brigham (Kiwoom) – Like Bell, Brigham was traded for a catcher after many years in Texas’s minors and reached MLB with a different club. Drafted in 2006’s 6th round, Brigham departed in exchange for Giovanny Soto and threw 16 innings for Atlanta in 2015. He’s beginning his fourth season in a Korean rotation after one in Japan. Brigham opened his season with 3.1 scoreless innings.
OF Jared Hoying (Hanwha) – Hoying played 512 games for AAA Round Rock and 75 for the Rangers during 2013-2017. He’s clubbed 48 homers and reached at a nifty .355 clip the past two seasons in Korea.
LHP Eric Jokisch (Kiwoom) – As you undoubtedly recall, Jokisch spent the last two months of the 2016 minor league season with Round Rock.
RHP Adrian Sampson (Lotte) – Sampson pitched the third-most innings for the Rangers last year. Texas granted his release last November to head overseas.
Since the postponed Opening Day of the MLB season, the per-capita rate of infection in the US is 110 times higher than South Korea. Lately, Texas alone is averaging more new cases per day than South Korea’s total for the last five weeks. So in that respect, I don’t see the KBO as a harbinger of baseball in the US. The countries are on very different paths. Patterson
Texas Rangers minor league 3B Shea Patterson is also a Kansas City Chief. Once an elite recruit, the U of Michigan quarterback became the last of 337 players at this year’s NFL combine to ink a deal.
The Rangers signed Patterson after drafting him in 2018’s 39th round. Patterson has appeared briefly at spring training and with the Round Rock Express but has yet to play in any official games, nor did he play in college. Texas retains his rights.
Former Rangers reliever Emmanuel Clase was suspended 80 games for a positive test for the performance-enhancing substance Boldenone. As I understand it, 80 games means 80 honest-to-goodness games, so Clase’s suspension could stretch well into 2021. Draft
Last week, I participated in a mock draft staged by ProspectsLive.com
. I was the Texas GM, picking for the Rangers in the first three rounds. To be honest, compared to most of the other faux GMs, I was ill-suited to the task. Historically, because of time constraints, I don’t usually gear up for the draft until two weeks before, at best. I tend to internet-scout the potential first-round picks for Texas, but beyond that, I’m just reading scouting reports from Baseball America so the early-round names ring a bell when they’re announced. In 2020, recent information does not exist. Most amateurs played only a handful of games, some none at all.
All that said, here’s your new virtual Rangers: 1st round 14th overall – LHP Reid Detmers, Louisville (6.2”, 210, Age 20.9)
I didn’t even rank Detmers because I had no expectation of him being available at my spot. I don’t recall a mock draft listing him lower than 10th. Detmers isn’t the sexiest choice and will never lead a rotation, but perhaps nobody outside the absolute top tier offers a higher floor. Detmers’ fastball usually runs only in the low 90s but has good movement, and he can place it wherever he likes. He also delivers a monster curve and genuine change. He’s as polished as anyone on the board. He’ll pitch in the Majors, probably pretty well.
Others I considered: Arkansas OF Heston Kjerstad, Tennessee LHP Garrett Crochet, and NC State catcher Patrick Bailey. Kjerstad vanished two picks before mine, and I would have taken Crochet if not for Detmers. Compared to Detmers, Crochet is a taller, missile-throwing lefty with more upside and but far more reliever risk, and a shoulder malady limited him to just one appearance and three innings.
2nd round, 50th overall – C Dillon Dingler, Ohio State (6’3”, 210, Age 21.7)
I wasn’t necessarily committed to taking a catcher, but several strong candidates were available as my second pick approach. After spurning Bailey in the first, I was more inclined to take one. Catcher Austin Wells was picked before my slot, but given a choice I would have still would have selected Dingler. Wells has the better bat but isn’t assured of sticking behind the plate. He might become an effective corner outfielder. For my part, if I’m picking a catcher, I want a catcher. Dingler isn’t an elite defender but won’t fall down the defensive scale, and his aptitude with the bat is rising.
“But the Rangers already have Sam Huff!” Indeed they do. David Garcia, too. Huff is a highly regarded prospect who has yet to see his first action in AA. Nothing is assured. In a perfect world, both Huff and Dingler develop into frontline catchers. If so, I will take full responsibility as GM for having too many good catchers in the organization. 3rd round, 85th overall – RHP Markevian Hence, Pine Bluff, AR (6”1, 175, Age 17.9)
To my eye, Hence looks closer to 165. While he lacks a stout build and probably always will, he’s athletic with a clean, breezy delivery. Hence’s fastball reaches 96 and sits two ticks below. He throws a four-seamer, two-seamer, curve, slider and change. Nickname: Tink.
The real draft is still scheduled for early next month. Still to be determined are the number of rounds. Dreams Deferred
Back in February, I’d already booked my first mid-week in May:
Wednesday 7:30 AM: Head to Frisco after dropping off daughter at school
Wednesday 11:05 AM: Watch Frisco play Midland
Wednesday evening: Attend work seminar
Thursday 11:00 AM: Join my Rangers On Deck podcast partners in the VOKAL studio
Thursday 7:05 PM: Watch Frisco play Midland