Minor League Pains: When Prospects Don’t Pan Out
Minor League baseball can rip your heart out. You can fall in love with a player who comes in with all the talent in the world and a high ceiling and for whatever reason they just don’t make it. So far this off season the Texas Rangers have let the following minor leaguers go or traded them away; Kasey Kiker, Erik Morrison, Kevin Johnson, Ryan Kelly, Andrew Doyle, Carson Vitale, Juan Grullon, Jimmy Swift, Paul Strong, Mitch Hilligoss, Chad Tracy, and I am sure I missing others. Some like Tracy may stay on the path they were while with the Rangers, others will always know that they were good enough to pay professional baseball.
The minor leagues are the heart and soul of a baseball team. Don’t believe it just think of the 2010 trade with Seattle for Cliff Lee, that trade took some of the best in the minors to take place, what would the first base situation look like if Mitch Moreland had to compete with Justin Smoak. What would the pitching situation look like if Blake Beavan was still wearing Ranger blue? The ability to love what you have and look forward to the betterment of the team make minor league baseball worth it, no matter how hard it can be.
Kasey Kiker was selected by the Rangers in first round, 12th overall pick of the 2006 draft out of Russell County HS. The LHP should have been the next left handed ace for the Rangers. But it didn’t materialize with Kiker. His ERA in the last 4 years in the minors was .705, .765, .386, and .473. His WHIP wasn’t any better 2.172, 1.850, 1.381, and 1.438. The sad thing was his SO/9 ratio in 2011 was the best it had ever been, but his bb/9 was at mystifying 10.5. Whatever he had in high school didn’t materialize to the professional game.
Erik Morrison was selected by the Rangers in the 46th round of the 2008 draft. He played 2nd base and right field. He showed skill based on his 2010 offensive production of .242/.281/.421 and his career numbers of .271/.332/.479. But he did miss nearly the entire 2011 season and was released by the Rangers.
Carson Vitale was drafted in the 38th round of the 2010 draft. The catcher out of Creighton spent 2010 primarily in the Arizona Summer League and 2011 with the short season Spokane Indians. His defensive numbers were ok, but his offensive numbers were lacking in a .223/.338/.308 over his two years with the Rangers.
Andrew Doyle was drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 draft. The RHP had a career WHIP of 1.474 and an ERA of 3.92 and so/bb ratio of 2.06. Doyle would likely to have had a further career if it hadn’t been for a 2nd violation of MLB’s Drug Testing and Prevention Program.
Performance issues, health issues and personal issues all can be career killers. They can kill years of hard work by the player and they can rip the heart of emerging fan bases. But that minor league baseball. Where fans and players alike struggle out of the eye sight of the big league fan base, so that in a few years the best and brightest can achieve the satisfaction of walking onto the field in a big league game.