Major League Baseball and Northeastern University have issued press releases today announcing that they have teamed up to establish a program which provides professional baseball players access to higher education programs and degrees. The degree programs, which include both bachelors and graduate studies, will be available to players at all levels both during and after their baseball playing days.
The agreement follows last year’s inclusion of a continuing education program in MLB’s collective bargaining agreement. That provided funds for players to pursue educational development. While, presumably, players can attend other institutions, Northeastern is the “preferred” school, which likely gives players more opportunities if they go there. In addition to Northeastern’s main campus in Boston, it provides remote learning opportunities in Charlotte, Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Toronto.
Northeastern has also agreed to provide dedicated counselors and career advisors to ballplayers taking advantage of the program. It is also pledging to support MLB’s Front Office and Field Staff Diversity Pipeline Program by preparing players for roles in the front office or on-field staffs after their playing careers end.
While many U.S.-based players who are drafted out of high school get their drafting team to agree to cover college expenses in exchange for them foregoing playing college baseball, there are are large number who don’t get such deals. And, of course, a large number of international players who begin their professional baseball journey while still teenagers.
This program will hopefully allow players who choose baseball over their education while they’re young to do so without sacrificing as much as they once were forced to. It will likewise, hopefully, provide a softer landing for the vast majority of professional baseball players who never get close to the major leagues.
The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.
Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:
Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:
In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.
The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.
The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.
Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.
While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.