Major League Baseball players, including a handful from southwest Riverside County, began reporting to their teams and home ballparks Wednesday, July 1, ahead of what has become a shortened, 60-game season, due to the coronavirus pandemic. This new season, that underwent an unforgettable back-and-forth affair between the MLB Players Association and the MLB, is due to begin at the end of this month. It took nearly two weeks of negotiations, but the agreement obviously addressed what it will take for play to resume, but also service time for the players.
The schedule for the season was released recently, and opening day is set for Thursday, July 23, for the Yankees/Nationals (4:08 p.m.), as well as the Dodgers/Giants (7:08 p.m.). The remainder of the teams will begin the following day, July 24. As it stands right now, seven players with ties to southwest Riverside County will be a part of the 60-man rosters of seven separate MLB teams, with three of those players readying themselves for the July 23 games. That’s correct. MLB teams will have a list of up to 60 players each from which to select their major league squads for the shortened season and only these players may participate in “Spring Training 2.0.”
Normally, there would be 40-man rosters, with up to 14 players who are not on the 26-man major league roster on optional assignment to a minor league team. With the cancellation of Minor League Baseball, there will not be five levels of teams this year to choose replacement players from, if needed.
The 60-man list is a pool of players from which teams may select players to add to their 40-man rosters or their major league rosters. A player must be on the 60-man list to be added to the roster, although there is nothing really preventing a team from adding a player to the rosters as long as there is a spot available.
Local players with ties to the area include Tyler Wade (Murrieta Valley HS; New York Yankees), Rob Brantly (Chaparral High School; San Francisco Giants), Patrick Wisdom (Murrieta Valley HS; Seattle Mariners), Chance Sisco (Temescal Canyon HS/Santiago HS; Baltimore Orioles), Kevin Padlo (Murrieta Valley HS; Tampa Bay Rays), Brandon Dixon (Murrieta Valley HS; Detroit Tigers) and Austin Barnes (Riverside Poly; L.A. Dodgers).
- Wade was drafted by the New York Yankees in the fourth round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft. He had committed to play college baseball at San Diego State University but chose to forgo his commitment and sign with the Yankees, for a $371,300 signing bonus.
- Brantly was originally drafted Washington Nationals in the 46th round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft but did not sign. He opted to attend college, enrolling at the University of California, Riverside and played for the Highlanders in the Big West Conference. In his sophomore season, the former Chaparral Puma was named to the Big West’s first team. The Detroit Tigers drafted Brantly in the third round, with the 100th overall selection, of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft.
- Wisdom graduated from Murrieta Valley High School in 2009 and played college baseball at Saint Mary’s College. He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft.
- Dixon also attended Murrieta Valley where he played alongside Wisdom, before enrolling at the University of Arizona and playing college baseball for the Wildcats. In 2012 Dixon and the Wildcats won the College World Series. After his junior season he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third round of the 2013 MLB draft.
- Sisco initially attended Temescal Canyon High School but transferred to Santiago High School in Corona his junior year. The Baltimore Orioles selected Sisco in the second round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft. He opted to sign with the Orioles rather than play college baseball at the University of Oregon.
- Padlo, another Murrieta Valley standout, originally committed to attend the University of San Diego on a college baseball scholarship, but the Colorado Rockies selected him in the fifth round of the 2014 Major League Baseball draft. Rather than enroll in college, he signed with the Rockies, receiving a $650,000 signing bonus.
- Barnes, a staple with the Dodgers, attended Riverside Polytechnic High School. He played college baseball at Arizona State University for the Sun Devils from 2009 to 2011 and was selected by the Florida Marlins in the eighth round of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft.
Before the season can get started, of course, players needed to report to “spring” training again, since this year everything was halted by the coronavirus pandemic in March. Though it’s technically summer, Spring Training 2.0 began Wednesday, July 1. As players report to their teams, they all must undergo health checks, including for the coronavirus, with planned workouts set to begin this past weekend.
Many clubs intend to split their 60-man roster into two groups, one working out in the morning and the other in the afternoon. All players will have their temperatures checked multiple times each day, observe increased social distancing and get accustomed to stringent safeguards that MLB has put into place for the season. For more details on rules, rosters and schedules, visit www.mlb.com.
If there are any other local players close to the Temecula Valley area that have also been added to MLB rosters, please contact us.
JP Raineri can be reached by email at email@example.com.