MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- It takes a lot of work for baseball players to make it to the pros, especially to a major league roster.
“What these guys go through now going through the different levels… you go through different obstacles that you have to face,” said Midland RockHounds manager Bobby Crosby who played eight seasons in the majors.
“Different pitching, different scenarios you’re put in to get you ready for the big league level.”
That task becomes even harder when you go a summer without playing any games like the Midland RockHounds did in 2020.
This year is the first season since the pandemic that’s scheduled to have a full slate of games after a shortened 2021 season.
Even though the games stopped in 2020, the work that the players put in certainly didn’t.
“You have to try to take it as positive as you can. I mean we didn’t get a competitive season in but you had to get your work in still,” said RockHounds pitcher Nick Highberger.
“Work on your craft whatever it is pitch, hitters still had to hit in the cages, still try to see pitchers as much as they can.”
“Kept the throwing program throughout the summer tried to simulate that you were pitching 50 to 60 innings,” said RockHounds pitcher Michael Danielak.
“I mean there’s no way to actually pretend you’re in a game environment but you had to do the best you could. It’s all you could do.”
The lost season altered potential major league trajectories for many players. Some stayed put in their class longer than they would normally, others moved through the system faster than expected.
It created an adjustment period for many players and a recognition from management that everyone will eventually end up where they’re supposed to.
“A lot of guys kind of jumped a level that maybe should’ve been in high-A but because of covid, they maybe came to double-A here and struggled a little bit. They might be at the level this year they normally would be at, said Crosby.
“I thought I was going to get by skipping a year. It’s kind of ‘Oh wow this is pretty cool’. Getting to go to straight to double-A in my first full season,” said RockHounds infielder Logan Davidson, a first round draft pick in the 2019 MLB draft.
“But looking back now it’s pretty tough. I mean I lost 500 at-bats. It’s not easy just to take a year and a half off from baseball where you would have gotten a ton of at-bats, a ton of experience.”
With a normal season back underway players can now get the game experience they need to break into the big leagues.
RockHounds players have reminders of how close to the show they are all over the stadium.
They can almost taste the big leagues and in this organization in particular, that could mean extended action and a greater chance to fulfill a dream.
“They just feel fortunate to be back playing again and I think they know they have a really good chance of making the major league team being in the A’s minor league department just because there’s more openings than most clubs,” said RockHounds general manager Monty Hoppel.
“You just try to think forward. You don’t try to look back,” said Danielak.
“We’re here, we’re playing, we’re close. Our goal is to get to the big leagues, we’re close and that’s all you can do.”