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Weird, now-dismissed lawsuit claimed Derek Jeter derailed a minor leaguer’s career

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This is a weird one. And also a kinda sad one in a way. But first the facts.

A former Yankees minor league shortstop named Garrison Lassiter — a 27th round selection in the 2008 draft — sued the team for $34 million last year, claiming that Derek Jeter was afraid of the competition and worked to derail his career in the organization. The Yankees went along with it, he said, in order to protect Jeter’s reputation. From NJ.com:

In the lawsuit, dismissed by a judge in May, Garrison Lassiter used letters, newspaper clippings and scouting reports to weave a strange tale of conspiracy that he said was launched against him “to protect the career of Derek Jeter.” He alleged that it was “blantanly (sic) obvious” that Jeter controlled the Yankees organization, and he insisted Yankees employees libeled and slandered him to other teams, preventing him from reaching the major leagues.

The reason? “To protect the career of Derek Jeter.”

Lassiter, who put himself through law school after his baseball career was over, filed the complaint himself, which NJ.com describes as “a rambling, conspiracy-laced lawsuit.” He included a lot of letters he wrote to other teams looking for work. To wit:

In a Hail Mary letter to Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels in January 2018, Lassiter wrote, “I’ll never play for the New York Yankees … a Team that doesn’t understand the importance of giving respect to the Players that help the Organization win. These are the facts big dawg.”

Not gonna lie: “these are the facts big dawg” is a pretty amazing phrase.

The reporter of the linked story spoke with former big leaguer Aaron Ledesma, who managed Lassiter in the minors. Based on that — and on his unremarkable stat line in five minor league seasons — the guy just didn’t have the chops to advance. Which is not knock on him. Simply getting drafted means that he was among the best amateur baseball players in the country. And it’s not uncommon for even touted prospects to stall out in A-ball like Lassiter did. There’s no shame in that, and certainly no Derek Jeter-led conspiracy. It was simply a matter of him not having the glove for shortstop and not having the bat for anyplace else, it would seem.

Which makes all of this sound rather sad. Again, not because his baseball career stalled out — most guys don’t even make the pros like he did — but because there was, apparently, no one around him to tell him to move on with his life rather than file this suit and get the inevitable bad publicity once a reporter got wind of it.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.