Today we’ll give you some headlines from around the minor leagues. We won’t talk about small things like individual minor league free agent signings but there has been a few interesting events and articles that our readers might want to know about.
Former Big Leaguers Managing in in the Minors
For our first item, word is coming down that former big-league catcher Rod Barajas is going to manage the Padres’ Arizona League club. It got me thinking about big leaguers who start their managing/coaching careers at the bottom. They’re not all like Don Mattingly. Mattingly, after spending a few post-retirement years serving as a hitting instructor for the Yankees during Spring Training, took his first coaching job with the major league club before striking out on his own as a manager at the big league level.
Kirk Gibson went from broadcasting to being the bench coach (and hitting coach) for Detroit and then for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was named manager full-time in 2011 and won the Manager of the Year award that year.
Ryne Sandberg, much like Mattingly, spent a few seasons after his retirement from playing as a Cubs special instructor during Spring Training but that’s where the similarities end. Sandberg’s first managerial job was with Class-A Peoria and he spent two seasons there before moving up to Double-A Tennessee and, one year later, to Triple-A Iowa where he managed for one year before spending two more years at the manager of the Phillies’ Triple-A affilate. Finally making it to the big leagues (again), Sandberg is now the full (non-interim) manager of the Phillies.
Barajas, however, wasn’t a star player and there’s something about him going all the way down to the bottom rung of the minors at the age of 38 that feels right. The majors have always been something that a player had to earn and, in some ways, it’s a little unfair that some former star players get to cash in on the privilege that their status brings them by bypassing the minor leagues a second time around.
More Suspensions for Minor Leaguers
MiLB.com has reported that there are some more suspensions coming down for a few minor leaguers. Brewers’ left-handed pitcher Will West was suspended for 100 games for his third positive test for amphetamines.
Also suspended were Marco Guzman, an 18-year-old second baseman who played for the Giants’ DSL team who was suspended for 50 games for a positive test for a banned steroid and D.J. Driggers and Yonquelys Martinez were both suspended for 50 games. Driggers’s suspension was for a drug of abuse while Martinez was suspended for steroids. Both players are free agents.
Fun stuff at MiLB.com
MiLB.com had some great articles recently, from discussing which minor leaguers could suffer from BABIP regression to reports that Cubs top prospect Javier Baez will be heading to Triple-A in 2014. They also have a nice Q&A with new Texas Rangers outfield prospect Michael Choice.
MiLB.com is also reporting that the Double-A Southern League has approved the sale and relocation of the Huntsville Stars to Biloxi. It’s not a done deal yet, but if it doesn’t happen, I would be very surprised.
Major vs. Minor Colleges
Fangraphs had a fun article by Al Skorupa looking at the success of drafting players out of major U.S. colleges or from those that don’t play as tough a schedule. While I’m not a fan of his limited methodology, it’s an interesting read. Personally, following the players that the Blue Jays have drafted out of colleges, it’s been interesting for me to try to gauge how well players are going to do based on the quality of the competition they faced and how they did. Unfortunately, Skorupa was only looking at first-round draft picks and only really looked at players coming out of NCAA programs. I’d have loved a more comprehensive look at players coming out of DII and DIII programs (as well as NAIA programs and Junior Colleges) but that probably would have been a much more exhaustive article.