Minor League IPA: Baseball a Labor of Love for Most Minor Leaguers, Cubs Shifting Gears With Pitching Development, Triantos a Freaky-Good Prospect

Major League Baseball is ultimately an entertainment showcase played predominantly by stars and when you think about the journey from high school to the bigs, it truly is the elite that completes that trek. Yes, that includes the likes of Daniel Descalso, Derek Holland, and Zach Davies, all of whom had success before joining the Cubs. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the minor leagues, where the sport serves as a little more than low-paid training and a labor of love for many of its athletes.

I don’t have the exact statistics, but having played in several dynasty leagues for the better part of two decades, I know attrition is pretty consistent. If I had to take an educated guess, I’d say that about 6% of high school players will continue the sport at the collegiate level. Just guessing, again, but I’d bet that about 8% of high school and college players are eventually drafted by a U.S. professional baseball team. Of all the players that do get drafted, about 10% ascend to The Show. Those are some long odds.

The fact is, most professional baseball players start out as seasonal workers on minor league teams, making little more than $1,200-1,500 per month with a small daily stipend, which, added together, comes out to less than minimum wage. It’s almost a miracle that most MLB teams are now paying for some type of communal housing.

Imagine a journeyman like Robel García, who recently left the Cubs organization for a higher-paying opportunity in Korea. As luck would have it, some major league success afforded García the opportunity Chicago was probably never going to provide. At 29 and with a career resume that includes just 198 plate appearances for the Cubs and Astros, the utility player left the States for $180,000 from the LG Twins. The culmination of his current journey includes two years where García played in Italy.

If you use the 40-man roster as your guide, there are approximately 1,200 players at the major league level or who are being counted on to eventually make it there. Each team has four affiliates and the draft means each team will add 20 or so new prospects to their systems. That means 20 players from each organization may see their dreams of becoming big-league players die before next season starts.

It’s fun to get excited about players like Brennen Davis, Brailyn Márquez, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Owen Caissie, Caleb Kilian, Jordan Wicks, Cristian Hernández, and James Triantos. Those young men are the future of the Cubs and there are similar stories among baseball’s other 29 clubs. Right now, hundreds of professional baseball players are more than a little concerned about their futures with the minor league draft about five weeks away. Careers will end and dreams will die for a lot of those young men, most of whom you’ve probably never heard of.

It’s not all green lights and rights once those careers have ended, either. For many successful athletes, the very thing that makes them great at what they do on the baseball diamond may hurt them in their career transition because of their single-minded focus for the majority of their formative and young adult years. Baseball requires a lot of time and effort with no promise of any type of return. Few think of a backup career and most have no work experience whatsoever.

When it comes down to it, García is more fortunate than most. A lot of young men will wish they had a similar opportunity in the coming weeks.

Affiliate News & Notes

Jigger Statz

Crow-Armstrong continues to defy all logic with his insane power surge this year. My friends and I have taken to calling him “Brady” (as in Tom Brady)  because he’s suddenly become the GOAT of Chicago’s system when few expected it.

Craft Beer of the Day

I was out and about last night detailing my car and took a quick trip to MobCraft Brewery for an old standby, Bat $h!t Crazy, or as I like to refer to it, “The Ex.” If you like a perfect mix of coffee and beer, the 5.6% ABV Imperial Stout is pure silk. It’s easy drinking but will get you in trouble if you overserve yourself. Though I live in Milwaukee, I’m still a novice when it comes to beers and particularly brewing processes, but I do wish Bat $h!t Crazy was a little thicker and a tiny bit less sweet. It certainly doesn’t come close to the wonderfulness that is Even More Jesus, but it works in a pinch and it’s close to home. The branded pint glasses are keepers, too.

950 Miles to Chicago

Triantos was a freaky-good but underrated prospect drafted in the 2nd round last year who signed for an over-slot $2.1 million. He’s opened some eyes since making his pro debut due to very quick hands, a loud hit tool, and excellent bat-to-ball skills. It is his maturity, patient approach, and baseball instincts, however, that could have him fast-tracked to the majors. There’s room to grow and he’ll face challenges as he progresses up the minor-league ladder, but Cubs fans should be excited.

Triantos looks a lot more polished than a guy who entered this season with just 101 professional at-bats. He’s batting .301 for Myrtle Beach this year, though his power numbers have dropped significantly. Then again, he’s just 19 years old. Defensively, Triantos is a bit of a nomad. He was drafted as a shortstop and is playing third base this year, but his future home might be in the outfield or at second base. As long as he continues to rake, he’ll find a permanent spot in Chicago’s lineup one day.

Children of the Corn

Believe it or not, it’s already “magic number season” for much of the Minor Leagues.

Major League Baseball is experimenting with baseballs in the minors to find the best sticky substance.

Veronica Hernandez of the Modesto Nuts became the first Latina GM in Minor League Baseball history when the Mariners announced her promotion last month.

The Blue Jays are calling up No. 4 overall prospect Gabriel Moreno. The catcher was hitting .324 with a .784 OPS at Triple-A heading into play Wednesday and joins Adley Rutschman as two of the top young American league catchers.

Mets prospect Justin Courtney recently portrayed Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan in a documentary called “Facing Nolan” which recently premiered at SXSW in Austin, TX.

The San Antonio Missions will hold a jersey auction on June 16 to benefit the community of Uvalde, TX. You have to be at the game to participate, but you can donate to support the fund if you are unable to attend.

The Royals have signed speedy outfielder Roman Quinn to a minor league deal.

Post-Game Presser

  • “[Ball] has had a great year so far. The thing that he does that is pretty impressive is he has power but he also doesn’t strike out much, which is a pretty rare combination. So he’s doing a great job. His defense is improving. We’re really excited about him.” – Jared Banner
  • A lot of people that I admire a lot have written me messages of support. That’s something that I feel really happy about.” – Morel

Friday Fandango

A catchy yet earnest reflection that is a unique blend of electronica and emo. A nice bow tie on the end of a long work week.

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