MiLB season nixed due to COVID-19 pandemic

By The Sports Pulse Staff

Photo by Michael Smith/The Sports Pulse

BOWIE – Minor League Baseball (MiLB) officials recently announced that their 2020 season has been nixed by Major League Baseball (MLB) due to the pandemic caused by COVID-19.

Originally scheduled to begin on April 9, the 2020 season had been delayed indefinitely including local teams such as the Harrisburg Senators and the Bowie Baysox (farm teams of the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles).

All 160 affiliated Minor League Baseball clubs awaited word from Major League Baseball relative to the status of the season before the decision was made.

Major League Baseball announced on June 23, the finalization of their plan to begin their season on July 23 and 24 in empty stadiums with expanded roster sizes, therefore resulting in the cancellation of all affiliated Minor League seasons.

“We are aware that our community shares our disappointment in learning that there will be no Bowie Baysox Baseball games this season,” said Brian Shallcross, Baysox General Manager. “We would like to thank our fans, corporate partners, Season Ticket Holders and employees for their patience and support during this difficult and uncertain time. We now turn our focus to the 2021 season and the hopes of playing a full season next year.”

Major League Baseball season is a Go

By Harry Lichtman/The Sports Pulse Contributor

Photo by Michael Smith/The Sports Pulse

WASHINGTON – On June 23, Major League Baseball (MLB) players agreed to report to training camp on July 1, resulting in the MLB season taking place in 2020.

For weeks, it seemed like a baseball season was not going to happen based on owners and players arguing over the number of games played and the amount of pay received in return.

On Monday, June 22, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) rejected MLB’s offer of a 60-game season, which resulted in league commissioner Rob Manfred taking matters into his own hands and implementing a season himself.

However, MLB officially announced a 60-game regular season that will begin on either July 23 or July 24, with a specialized “spring” training session starting on July 1st.

The shortened season will also include new rules for 2020: 

  • Active rosters will have 30 players for the first two weeks, 28 for the next two weeks, and 26 in week five.
  • A separate injury list for the coronavirus.
  • Teams will play 10 games vs. divisional opponents; four vs. opposite league divisional opponents.
  • Universal designated hitter (DH) for both NL and AL.
  • The trade deadline will be August 31.
  • The runner starts at second base in extra innings

Due to COVID-19 still sweeping the nation, players must follow a lot of safety measures, as they are not allowed to make deliberate contact with any other player aside from making tags. That means don’t expect anything like high-fives or fights between players.

In terms of COVID-19 testing, it will be implemented in three phases: prescreening, intake, and regular monitoring, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich.

For prescreening, players and staffers will be tested three or four days before arriving at camp. For intake, they will then undergo a temperature check, a saliva or nose-swab test, and a blood test for antibodies two days before reporting to camp.

Finally, for regular monitoring, players will have their temperature and symptoms checked twice per day.

As for the minors, the MiLB season has been on hold since April, as they are awaiting word from the MLB if the season will be played at all.

But for now, an apparent free agent league is in place, so that MLB players could quickly sign a fill-in player if necessary.

According to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, MLB has talked with Nashville about having two teams of unsigned players there. Nashville is the home of the Triple-A Nashville Sounds.

The players would serve as an emergency pool and would make $400 per week, as MLB teams would have to pay a fee to Nashville to sign one of those free agents.

According to Ken Rosenthal, Nashville might not be the only location for this free agent league, as Rosenthal stated that “MLB expects other minor league teams to do something similar to Nashville and allow major league teams to sign players for a fee, operating the same way independent leagues do.”

MLB is not the only North American pro sports league planning to return, the NBA and NHL are expected to begin their playoffs in late July/early August, MLS announced a tournament which will kick off in Orlando on July 8, the WNBA plans to tip off their season in late July, and the NFL is expected to start on time in the fall.

Nationals and Orioles draft for the future, CRCBL represented well

By Harry Lichtman/The Sports Pulse Contributing Writer

Photo by Michael Smith/The Sports Pulse

ROCKVILLE – While the 2020 MLB season has yet to be played due to the owners and players failing to find a solution on schedule length and amount of pay received, the annual MLB Draft took place on June 10 and 11.

The MLB Draft is usually 40 rounds, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s draft was shortened to five rounds, with 160 total players drafted.

While the Detroit Tigers had the first overall pick and selected Arizona State infielder Spencer Torkelson, we will mainly focus on the Washington Nationals, the Baltimore Orioles, and Cal Ripken League alums taken in the draft.

The Nationals are coming off an improbable World Series championship run after starting the season with a 19-31 record. They entered the draft with the 22nd overall pick in the first round.

With that pick, Washington selected Cade Cavalli, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Oklahoma. This became the fifth consecutive season where the Nats selected a pitcher in the first round, after Dane Dunning (2019), Mason Denaburg (2018), Seth Romero (2017), and Dane Dunning (2016).

According to MASN Nationals insider Mark Zuckerman, Cavalli is a big right-hander at 6-foot-4 and 226 pounds, can reach the upper 90s, and has some injury history.

In the second round, Washington chose another right-handed pitcher, Cole Henry, from LSU. As a draft-eligible sophomore, Henry expects to sign with the Nationals rather than return to Baton Rouge.

The 71st overall pick was a compensation pick for losing Anthony Rendon to the Los Angeles Angels, as Washington drafted shortstop Sammy Infante, a Florida high school player who committed to Miami (FL).

The Nationals’ next few picks were UCLA right-hander Holden Powell in the third round, Oklahoma catcher Brady Lindsly in the fourth round, and San Jacinto Junior College left-hander Mitchell Parker in the fifth and final round.

The Orioles have been very underwhelming unit the past few seasons, especially after losing over 100 games in 2018 and 2019.

That being said, it also means Baltimore has made very early first-round selections recently, as the team took Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman with the first overall pick in the 2019 draft.

This year, the Orioles had the second pick and drafted Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad.

As a true freshman for the Razorbacks, Kjerstad batted .332 with 30 extra-base hits, 14 home runs, and 58 RBIs, and helped lead his school to the 2018 College World Series final.

At the end of Day One, Baltimore had the 30th pick and took Jordan Westburg, a shortstop from Mississippi State.

On Day Two, the O’s selected Tulane outfielder Hudson Haskin, Ole Miss shortstop Anthony Servideo, Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS (FL) third baseman Coby Mayo, and Dowling Catholic HS (IA) right-hander Carter Baumler.

Finally, six Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League (CRCBL) players from the last few years were selected for the 2020 MLB Draft.

Orioles draft picks Westburg and Servideo both have Cal Ripken League experience, as Westburg played for the Gaithersburg Giants in 2017, while Servideo spent his time with the Baltimore Redbirds in 2018.

Two other Giants alums taken in the draft were LSU outfielder Daniel Cabrera and Louisiana shortstop Hayden Cantrelle. Cabrera was selected by the Detroit Tigers in Round B, while the Milwaukee Brewers took Cantrelle in the fifth round.

Two Bethesda Big Train alums were also drafted: East Carolina outfielder and 2018 CRL MVP Alec Burleson Virginia Tech catcher Carson Taylor. SMC California standout Gio Diaz was recently signed to the Nationals.

Burleson was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals with their compensation pick (No. 70 overall), and Taylor was taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth round.