With Opening Day being over a week ago, Minor League Opening Day is upon us as well. Even with teams only playing a few games, there are still plenty of stories, individual and team performances to discuss.
A major talking point from the offseason was the new extra-innings rules to speed up baseball games in the minor leagues. Starting in the 10th inning teams will start with a runner on second base. It did not take long for this rule to come into effect. In a game between the Harrisburg Senators and the Bowie Baysox on opening day, the game went into extra innings. This game did not end in the 10th, 11th or the 12th, but finally in the 13th. Both teams managed to one run in the 10th and 11th and failed to in the 12th. Finally, in the 13th the Harrisburg Senators, an affiliate of the Washington Nationals, scored 4 runs to take the lead. The Bowie Baysox, an affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, tried to come back, but came a run short, and lost 10-9. The game took just over 4 hours which is probably not what the commissioner was hoping for. However, a complaint by fans was that it would be boring to watch and there would be an increase in bunting, but neither team did. This will be a developing story across the minor leagues this season to see fan reaction and if it actually speeds up the game.
Another big story from the minor leagues was the Red Sox number 1 prospect being suspended for 80 games. Michael Chavis was drafted in 2014 and found his stride last year reaching Double-A. He was suspended for a performance-enhancing substance. Chavis was 3rd in extra base hits and 5th in home runs in all of the minors. This will definitely hurt his development as he could have been called up to the majors by the end of the season. Chavis is only 22, so he will still be around for a while, but don’t expect to see him this year due to this suspension.
With only a few games into the season, some players have gotten off to a hot start while others are starting in a slump. Ronald Acuna, the number 2 prospect according to MLB, is currently in Triple-A and has not gotten a hit in 8 at-bats with 3 strikeouts. Ronald Acuna will be called up soon as long as he can get some sort of momentum going as he hit .432 in Spring Training making a case for an opening day spot. He is only 20 and could be an NL rookie of the year candidate if he is called up soon. Other top 10 prospects have not struggled as much. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (#3) is starting in Double-A and has 3 hits and a home run. Gleyber Torres (#5) is starting in Triple-A and is hitting .357 with a home run. Prospects Victor Robles (#6) and Nick Senzel (#7) are both starting in Triple-A and has started off hot. Robles had 4 hits in a game for the Syracuse Chiefs. Eloy Jimenez (#4) is starting the season on the DL while Forrest Whitley (#9) and Michael Kopech (#10) have not pitched as of Sunday night. The top 10 has a mix of players performing and slumping, but one minor leaguer made headlines over the weekend.
His name is Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow is starting the year off in Double-A. Realistically he won’t play in the majors, but even with that, he is making headlines. In his first double-A at-bat, he hit a home run. This is the third time he has done this. In Single-A and High A, he also hit a home run in his first at-bat. He hit 8 home runs last year split between A and High A. Tebow did not get another hit this weekend and is currently 1 for 7.
Stats are through Sunday night, April 9th.
Prospect Ratings and Stats from MLB.com