Minnich must show some power at bat

Former Shepherd 1st baseman homerless after 12 games with NY-Penn League

The major league baseball scout who signed Shepherd first baseman Nathan Minnich to a professional contract said to no one in particular, “Scouts look at players and try to project whether they will ever hit with power. Minnich has already shown he can hit home runs. We’ll draft him for that reason alone.”

The Boston Red Sox followed through and did select the 6-foot-3, 240-pound first baseman in the eighth round of the 2012 free agent draft of first-year amateurs.

As a 22-year-old draftee, Minnich reported to the Lowell Spinners of the rookie New York-Penn League. His professional career began in late June and he shared the Spinners’ first base and designated hitter duties with an equal-sized player who had played at Pittsburgh of the Big East Conference.

Boston had signed Minnich for $10,000 and they watched to see if he could do as well with his wood bat as he did with Shepherd’s metal bats. The Red Sox wanted power and RBIs from Minnich.

After 12 games with the Spinners, Minnich hadn’t hit any homers and had three RBIs in his 44 official at-bats. The home runs hadn’t come. And neither had many hits of any kind as he was batting .136 and showed 13 strikeouts.

Minnich was sent to the Red Sox rookie team in the Gulf Coast League in Florida.

Nathan Minnich

Nathan Minnich

He remained in the Gulf Coast League until the season closed near the end of August.

In his 27 games with that Red Sox rookie league team, Minnich had 95 official at-bats. His 22 hits were divided into five doubles, one triple and 16 singles. There were no home runs. He drove in 17 runs while drawing 21 walks and striking out 34 times.

When the Gulf Coast League Red Sox open their 2013 season on June 21, Minnich is scheduled to be on their roster again.

His lifeline to staying in professional baseball is still anchored by home runs and RBIs.

This year’s major league draft of free agents just took place on June 6-through-8 and there were 40 rounds held. New blood will be signed by the Red Sox. Many of those drafted in the last 15 rounds will not sign professional contracts.

But how many first basemen will the Red Sox sign? Every one of them they do persuade to become pros threatens Minnich’s future.

How long will the Red Sox wait to see if Minnich can find a home run stroke or at least drive in runs with doubles?

The $10,000 bonus he settled on in his signing contract got him back to spring training. If he had received no bonus money, he would have been released following the 2012 summer.

Some of these 2013 signees will command bonus money. Those that do get signing bonuses will be given adequate playing time to see if they can produce.

Minnich is an investment. The new faces also represent investments. If Minnich can’t find his powerstroke, his tenure as a professional player in the Boston Red Sox organization will be jeopardize

d . . . and possibly ended.

 

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