After signing his professional baseball contract with the Boston Red Sox, former Shepherd University first baseman Nathan Minnich was about three weeks away from his first assignment with the Lowell Spinners of the Class A New York-Penn League.
[cleeng_content id="778401921" description="Read it now!" price="0.15"]When Minnich reported to Lowell, a Massachusetts city that once was home to a thriving textile industry, he hadn’t seen live pitching (of any quality) for nearly a month. Shepherd’s season had ended on May 18 with a loss to Winston-Salem State in the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region of the national playoffs.
Lowell also had another large-body first baseman in David Chester, who had played collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh. Chester is listed at 6-foot-5, 275 pounds. He is already 23 years old.
In Lowell’s first game of the short-season rookie league, Minnich, the eighth-round draft selection of the Red Sox, was handcuffed.
He had four plate appearances, getting hit by a pitch and striking out three times. The next night, Minnich went 1-for-2 with a walk in two official at-bats.
The New York-Penn League has the designated hitter rule. Chester was playing first base and Minnich was the Spinners’ designated hitter.
After his initial 1-for-5 beginning, Minnich no longer played in every game. But neither did Chester as Lowell sputtered badly to a 5-12 overall record.
In his next four games, played over an eight-day period, Minnich was 2-for-16 and his batting average had sunk to .143. His strikeout total was 10 and there had already been two games where he had fanned three times.
On June 30, Minnich had his finest night with the Spinners when he went 3-for-6, scored a run and drove in a run.
Playing in his fourth straight game on July 2, Minnich was 0-for-4 . . . leaving him with a season total of six hits in 34 at-bats for a .176 batting average.
He had no extra base hits and had fanned a dozen times.
Lowell hadn’t accomplished much as a team. The Spinners were already seven games under .500 after only 17 games. Minnich had started nine of those 17 games. No player on the team’s roster has played in more than 15 games.
No doubt Minnich has been facing pitchers who would dominate the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference where Shepherd plays its conference schedule.
No doubt the competition is much more able and the pitchers have much better control and a more varied assortment of pitches than Minnich saw during his highly productive college career that lasted four years.
Lowell’s season goes on until Labor Day in early September.
Minnich is finding the “Play for Pay” ranks are full of players just as confident, just as talented, and with more experience against a higher level of players than he was accustomed to seeing while at Shepherd.[/cleeng_content]