The Rangers have had two pitching prospects — Omar Beltre and Alexi Ogando — on their roster for several years now, though they’ve been unavailable to join the club or its minor league affiliates because of a visa problem. The kind of visa problem that comes from taking part in a human trafficking ring. I hate it when that happens.
But their luck, and by extension the luck of the Rangers, has changed, as the State Department appears poised to lift their visa restrictions and allow them to come to play in the U.S. The long and the short of it is that Beltre and Ogando were pawns in a much larger fraud, and since their restrictions, each have worked to educate others about the dangers of human trafficking, which more or less earned them a second chance.
And based on the scouting reports, they should get a good shot at taking advantage of that second chance. Each has serious heat, and each have pitched well in winter ball. Assuming no problems in spring training, each should be starting at AA ball which, given how often teams use AAA to stash minor league veterans instead of prospects these days, is practically a step away from the big club.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.