The funny thing about covering prospects in this world is that for a good long while, you never actually hear a player’s name said out loud … and that can result in somewhat egregious mispronunciations. For example, for a long time I thought relief prospect Dakota Mekkes’ last name was pronounced “Meeeks,” but then I found out it’s “Mekk-es.” Maybe I’ll just call him Dakota. That sounds like a bada** nickname anyway. Get ’em, Dakota.
Here’s some news from around the league.
- We never root or or celebrate injuries to key players on rival teams – it’s not only in poor taste, but I like that old idea of beating enemies at full strength – but that doesn’t mean those injuries aren’t notable and/or can’t have competitive impacts. And it is to that end that I tell you Brewers closer Jeremy Jeffress (1.26 ERA over 76.2 IP last season) was lifted from his last Spring contest after just three pitches. The injury, whatever it is, doesn’t sound too serious, but I suspect it’s not quite as much of a nothingburger as Jeffress suggests: “General shoulder, rotator weakness,” he added. “It’s not pain; just weakness. I don’t feel like I can let the ball go just yet. Just get it a little bit stronger, and I think that’s all it’ll take.” Maybe there’s no pain and maybe pitchers always need time to ramp up, but shoulder injuries are equal parts complicated and scary for pitchers. We’ll monitor that situation closely, as the Brewers bullpen is among their greatest strengths.
- In other NL Central Spring injury news, top Reds prospect (#6 overall to MLB Pipeline) Nick Senzel, who’s trying to win the center field job right out of Spring Training, is dealing with a tight left hamstring. The Reds appear to be playing things slow out of an abundance of caution, but it is another point to keep in mind. In the past, perhaps, this wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but after all the moves they made this offseason, we’ll have to keep closer tabs on the Reds this year.
- Keeping the theme going, Yadier Molina is apparently looking strong this Spring, despite recovering from offseason surgery on his left knee and not yet appearing in a Grapefruit League game. He’s expected to get his first start sometime in the next week or so.
- With legalized sports gambling permeating throughout the country slowly but surely, MLB is taking action to protect against insider info. Specifically, they’re changing the way managers must submit lineup cards. Instead of revealing the cards to media and others in and around the clubhouse as soon as they’re ready, teams must now submit it directly to the league, who’ll share it with data providers, “like SportsRadar, who will put it out to the public and all the sportsbooks at the same time.”
- Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright has been suspended 80 games for PEDs. Dummy. “We couldn’t figure out how this substance got into my body, he said. “But at the end of the day, it’s my responsibility. It falls on me.” Okay, whatever dude.
- Brewers third baseman Mike Moustakas is moving to second base this season to better accommodate the lineup and here’s his totally confident response to questions of Is it going to work: “Yeah, I think so. I always ask [manager Craig] Counsell and [bench coach Pat] Murphy and [first-base coach] Carlos [Subero] about how I look over there, and they say I look good.” Heh. I’m sure Moose will be fine – and if he’s hitting well enough, the Brewers might not care, but it’s impossible to say that’s not a potential weakness for them this season – no matter how often or successfully they over-shift.
- The Rangers have signed talented 25-year-old reliever Jose Leclerc (1.56 ERA, 1.90 FIP) to a four-year contract extension worth just $14.75M plus two option years worth just over $6M/year. That’s a pretty team-friendly deal for the Rangers and yet another example of a player probably selling himself a bit short based on the current free agent landscape.
- Former college star pitcher Luke Heimlich, who pleaded guilty to molesting a family member nearly a decade ago and since became flash point for uncomfortable but important conversations, has agreed to a deal with a Mexican League team.
- We often discuss the way minor league players are underpaid – or not paid at all – but I can’t say I ever considered this aspect of it: the extra assortment of catchers needed in Spring Training are often Minor Leaguers and sometimes they *don’t get paid at all* for their time in camp. The big league teams literally *need* these catchers to work with all the pitchers and yet … not enough to pay them even minimum wage? That’s called being cheap. “When the employer requires you to work, you should be paid for it. This isn’t the late 1800s. We’re in the 21st century, and MLB needs to update its labor policy just like every other company in the country has done. A lot of times these players are working 31 or 32 straight days during spring training, and a lot of times it’s 10 hours a day.”
- A specific story:
One year I went thru 1 month of Spring Training (no pay), 2.5 months of Extended (no pay), 2.5 months of Rookie ball ($1100 a month), 1 month of Instructs (no pay).
In 7 months of Milb season I made $2750 before taxes and dues.
I make that in 2 weeks now. https://t.co/Ac4WyCwDBy
— Eric Sim (@esim3400) March 6, 2019
- If you’re still on the other side of the “Minor Leaguers deserver *at least* minimum wage” issue, you’re wrong.
- The Seattle Mariners always have such good commercials, here’s one of their latest:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) March 6, 2019
- And here’s a time Ken Griffey Jr. saved the whole planet from an asteroid:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) March 15, 2018