JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The uncertainty surrounding professional baseball continues to churn.
With Major League Baseball still at an impasse about a return from the COVID-19 pandemic, minor leaguers continue to be left in the dark on what their future holds. There may not be a season at all. And that affects a number of players with area ties. In 2019, a total of 55 athletes who have local ties played at the minor league level.
A season of lost development for players is one thing. But for minor leaguers who are already some of the poorest paid professional athletes in the world, losing all or a portion of their pay compounds that. For a point of reference, players in Double-A, the level that the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp play in, earn $350 a week during the season. The Jumbo Shrimp’s parent club, the Miami Marlins, have said that they will continue to pay players a $400 stipend through August.
On Monday, the Washington Nationals said that they would cover their minor leaguers $400 weekly stipend through the end of June, according to the Associated Press. That comes a day after The Athletic reported that the Nationals would reduce stipends to $300 weekly.
Washington pitcher Sean Doolittle said in a post on Twitter that major leaguers would cover the $100 shortage since the team wouldn’t. The Nationals ultimately reversed their stance and said they would cover the $400 stipend.
Pitcher Pearson McMahan, a Middleburg High School and St. Johns River State College product, is in the Nationals farm system. He spent last year at Class A Hagerstown.
Support for minor leaguers continues to come in from the major league level. On Saturday, the Associated Press reported that Dodgers pitcher David Price would give $1,000 to each of the Dodgers’ 220 minor leaguers. The Dodgers have committed to paying their farm system players $400 weekly through June.
Ponte Vedra High product Mark Mixon played rookie level ball at Ogden in 2019 and UNF alum Austin Drury, a pitcher who spent last year in Class A advanced at Rancho Cucamonga, are both in the Dodgers farm system.
There have been massive player releases over the last two weeks as franchises make cuts and trim rosters in significant fashion.
Only one player with area ties has been caught up in the mass baseball releases over the past two weeks, UNF product Nick Marchese. Marchese, who was a free agent signee last year with the Diamondbacks, was released on May 28. Marchese was 3-3 with a 3.97 ERA and 30 Ks in 34 innings pitched last season with rookie level team Missoula.
Oakland is the lone Major League Baseball team that has stopped paying its minor league players. The Athletics halted payments as the deadline set by the league expired on May 31. The area has one local player in the Oakland farm system, Baker County High product Zach Rafuse.