Legends On Deck

Re-Post: The Highs And Lows Of Minor League Baseball

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Photo: David Conde/Legends on Deck

Update: March 24, 2016

With another Minor League Spring Training in full swing, I looked back at a post I wrote last season with quotes from current and former minor leaguers to share the journey’s each face with the hopes that soon-to-be and new comers to the pro ranks will be able to prepare themselves for what the ride may look like.

Original Post: February 11, 2015

It’s that time of the year again, when ball players from all over the United States, the Caribbean, South America and some from even across the globe are preparing to make the journey back to their organizations for another spring training. It’s the life of a minor league ball player, with some receiving an invite to join the big club and the rest continuing on to their respective minor league camps with hopes of one day receiving the same call.

Minor League Baseball is a place where players hone their skills and hope that they are good enough to move through the system and become an important part of an organization. Their journeys are not always easy, as there are good days and bad days, but it is a common understanding that to reach their goals, all must endure the ups and downs of the game. The hope is that at the end of it all, their dream of playing major league baseball will be a reality.

It isn’t always easy for some ball players especially when this may be the first time that they are away from home and on their own.  There are those that enter the system straight out of high school and need time to adjust, while there are others that may have a few years of college under their belts so being on their own isn’t as hard.

With the International ball players, they may have traveled across their country playing the game, but most have never left their native land prior to arriving in the United States where they try and adapt to a new language and culture. Either way you look at it, it is a shock to some as they look to care for their own needs and work towards becoming men in the game.

Brian Mullen, who is currently a contributing writer here at Legends on Deck and also works for the Boston Red Sox shares an issue that some players experience the first time in the minors, “Being away from home for the first time; the ‘big fish, small pond’ issue.”

Brian explained it to me this way, “A player gets drafted or signs, he may be the main guy on his high school or college team, but when they enter into this level of play, they realize very quickly that there are hundreds of other young men in the same situation, so having to adjust to it takes time and some maturity.”

When signing a player out of high school, the maturity factor does comes into play and how each player adapts will determine how successful he could be. It’s not easy for a young man to leave his home and be asked to now care for all of his needs.

Joe Tuschak and Dash Winningham were dafted by the New York Mets straight out of high school, Tuschak in 2011 (6th round) and Winningham in 2014 (8th round). I caught up with both players recently as they prepare for a new season and they shared with me the challenges faced upon entering the minors their first year.

“Being in the minors with coming straight out of high school, has been a difficult challenge. You don’t see this caliber of pitching on an everyday basis and the speed of the game is so much faster. My first year I struggled with being away from home and I questioned the whole time if I made the right decision to forgo college,” says Tuschak.

“There was a bit of a transition from being on my own and taking care of myself away from baseball. Just being away from family and friends was something that was a different feeling for me,” adds Winningham.

Being away from home can take a toll on a player if it’s something he has never experienced, but there are other issues that can weigh down a ball player and it’s the low wages that they receive in minor league ball. It can manifest throughout the year, but mostly starts in the off-season when these young men return home.

“It’s hard to play for eight months then go home and find a job to support a life while still preparing to do it all over again,” Mets pitching prospect Chasen Bradford tells me as we recently spoke about the rigors of minor league baseball.

Bradford continues, “It’s a long season and with minor league pay, relationships with loved ones or spouses suffer especially when I am across the country.”

Baseball is a lot like life, it humbles you at times and makes you stronger, says Bradford.

As a minor leaguer, salaries are no where near what a major leaguer would make, so in the minors, they have to utilize the salaries they receive to maximize how they survive.

No matter what, these young men look at their time as a once in a lifetime opportunity, but there are those that fall prey to the pressures of the game and give up their dreams of ever playing major league baseball.

“Some guys walk away and that is a shame because some of those guys probably could have made it under different circumstances,” says Bradford.

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David is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Legends On Deck®, as well as a Co-Host on Legends On Deck Podcast. David was a Senior Editor for MetsMerizedOnline.com, MetsMinors.net and Contributor for Hardballchat.com that spanned from 2010 to 2014. David made his MLB Debut as a writer in June 2014, while covering the NY Mets at Citi Field, for MetsmerizedOnline.com. David also coaches baseball for ages 13-15, a Babe Ruth League team in his local community. David's passion is coaching the game he loves to the future Legends of Tomorrow as well as making available a website that people can have fun sharing and reading. David is also passionate about his career as a Mortgage Loan Officer which allows him to help many families reach their dreams of owning a home. Connect with David via his Social Media pages as he loves to chat all about baseball.

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