There are just 12 days left until the minor league baseball regular season begins. It’s all starting to feel real once again. Soon enough the Cincinnati Reds organization is going to have days where there are five baseball games going on at once and it’s going to be glorious to watch.
Let’s start with some of the good updates for today. Reds Director of Pitching Kyle Boddy shared some more video highlights of some pitchers from out in Goodyear this week. In the video posted he’s got strikeouts from five different non-drafted free agents that Cincinnati picked up last year: Vin Timpanelli (who was a catcher in college and pitched just one inning), Leo Nierenberg, Stevie Branche, Braxton Roxby, and Carson Rudd.
#Reds country – meet some of the Non-Drafted Free Agent (NDFA) pitchers.
? Vin Timpanelli (Ramapo)
? Leo Nierenberg (Washington)
? Stevie Branche (RIT)
? Braxton Roxby (U Pitt Johnstown)
? Carson Rudd (Stanford) pic.twitter.com/TEla4KwlIi
— Kyle Boddy (@drivelinebases) April 21, 2021
With only five rounds in the 2020 MLB Draft it will be very interesting to see this year, and into the future, which teams made the best signings of the guys that went undrafted from this class of players.
More Rule-Change Experiments
The minor leagues have long been the place where Major League Baseball has first tested out rules that they have been considering changing at the highest level. There are several rules being experimented with in the minors this year, including an automated strikezone in the league that was formerly the Florida State League (except in Daytona where the technology isn’t installed, so the Tortguas will only have that in road games).
On Thursday another set of rule changes were added to the Atlantic League. All infielders must be on the dirt when a pitch is released. This rule is also being tested out in Double-A during the first half. The rule could be adjusted in the second half of the season to include two fielders on each side of the second base bag while also on the infield dirt as first reported by Baseball America in March.
This suggests to me that Major League Baseball is taking a real, hard look at this rule and wants to get even more information on how it will play out this season.
The Reds aren’t covering alternate site housing
Advocates for Minor Leaguers are reporting that six teams are not covering housing costs for players at alternate training sites. The Cincinnati Reds are one of the teams that they list as not covering this for the players.
There’s a lot going on here, so we’ll try to take it one issue at a time. The first issue is that in spring training teams have to cover living expenses (up to a certain point – guys can’t rent out a mansion and force the team to pay for it). During the regular minor league season teams have to supply meals at the ballpark for players. But the alternate site is not spring training, nor is it the regular season. As such, teams aren’t forced to cover housing or supply in-park meals for players. There is no word as to whether the Reds are providing in-park meals for players at the alternate site (they were among the earlier adopters of catering meals at their minor league parks).
Now there is a difference between spring training, where housing is covered, and the alternate site situation. Players at the alternate sites are being paid right now, while players in spring training are not. Pay starts at $700 per week, and depending on a variety of factors, can be significantly higher than that according to Baseball America’s JJ Cooper.
$700 a week is not nothing. How far that goes in terms of rent varies wildly on where you happen to be living. But when talking about the alternate site we need to also understand that there are players currently with Louisville who are not expected to be there on May 4th when the season begins. Jose Garcia is a prime example there, as a player who is expected to be in Double-A Chattanooga when the season begins. Players in his situation likely are living out of a hotel or maybe an Airbnb due to the fact that their stay in the city is only going to be a month and signing a lease on an apartment isn’t an option like it may be for a player who expects to be in Louisville when the regular season begins.