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.

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.

15 Responses

  1. SaveTheFarm

    So they are thinking about getting rid of the shift? I personally am not a fan of the shift. I’m interested to see how this plays out.

  2. Matthew O'Neal

    I’m down for limiting the shift. I don’t think it should be banned. I do think it unfairly penalizes left handed hitters (putting the 2B playing shallow right field). You can’t do that with the SS and expect to throw someone out at first from shallow left. I think they should be allowed to go a few feet into the grass, but not crazy deep. Maybe as deep as an ump would call an infield fly.

    • Doc

      If the experiment shows promise, there is nothing to prevent tweaking it. One of the tweaks could be to expand the dirt part of the infield back another five or ten feet. That would be better, in my opinion, than allowing a “few feet”, or basing it on the judgement of umpires, especially those who can’t get balls and strikes right from a couple feet away. I would also chalk a line bisecting the field thru the second base bag. Two players on each side and any player who deliberately obliterates the line or takes a position across the line is ejected. Technology in football, golf, etc can draw imaginary lines on a screen. Add a fifth umpire in a booth to monitor and make the calls, equipped with that over-laid line.

      I, too, am for getting rid of the shift if a sane, logical way can be found. My favorite that will never happen, though, is any ball hit over the outfield wall in innings 1-8 is a ground rule double. It only becomes a home run from the ninth inning onward.

      • Matthew O'Neal

        No, absolutely I agree you’d need a hard boundary line and not a judgement call by the oft-incorrect umpires. I like your suggestion of increasing the area that the dirt covers and requiring the IF stay on the dirt.
        I’ve shuffled back and forth on the two defenders on each side of second base, and I think I’ve landed on that I am fine with stacking defenders on one side or the other, as long as they are in the infield.

      • Doc

        Matthew,

        If you are going to allow three infielders on one side of the infield, then I would not expand the dirt part. Otherwise the infielders are still able to stack, with one where he would have been anyway, just now legitimized by giving them dirt instead of grass. Keep the dirt the same so that there is room for balls to fall in between infielders and outfielders.

  3. MK

    Here is an off topic administrative question. When. A player is selected in ml Rule V Draft there is a fee. If the player is returned the drafting team gets back 1/2 of the money. So who got the money back on Holder the drafting Phillies or returning Reds?

  4. RojoBenjy

    Do you think it’s the Reds being cheapskates for not covering at least some alt site housing expenses, or is there info that is not apparent to me which would give them a plausible defense?

    • Doug Gray

      Well, given that it seems six of the 30 teams aren’t covering it, it comes off as being cheapskates doesn’t it?

    • MK

      I’m sure the players are getting regular season pay and are responsible for own living expenses. In Spring Training they are not getting paid, just a few years ago it was $5 a week plus room and board. So, players are probably ahead of Spring Training standards financially. $700 would most likely be for few guys as these would be at lowest level guys who are most likely still in Arizona.

    • RojoBenjy

      Thanks for the replies.

      My opinion is that this gives the Reds the look of tightwads. Mike Brown-esque which makes me very irritated

  5. Optimist

    From an old neighborhood 3 against 3 softball player here – a small, trivial, and likely insignificant portion of the shift is already illegal – Rule 5.02 – since all fielders but the Catcher must be in fair territory when the ball is put in play. Don’t know if it’s ever been enforced, but teams in older ballparks with large foul areas into the outfield may have been tempted to sneak a guy over there for extreme pull hitters.