The last time we spoke with Kyle Parker, he was just coming off his first stint in the Majors, and was playing where he played most of the 2014 season, in triple-A Colorado Springs. After a couple cups of coffee in Denver this year, Parker was among the Rockies’ September call-ups.
Accustomed to playing every day in minors, he’s batting just .154 in 13 sporadic Major League at-bats, where he is used primarily as a pinch hitter. His first hit came in his second stint in the Majors, which lasted just one game in which he went 1-for-3, including this lifelong memory:
We caught up with him again briefly in Rockies clubhouse before a game earlier this month, where he talked about his first Major League hit, life in the Majors, and (since he played quarterback at Clemson for two years) the possibility of backing up Peyton Manning.
In March 2013, I spoke with a clean-shaven Ben Paulsen during Spring Training about his aspirations of playing in the Majors. At the time, he had not played higher than double-A, but he would play that entire ensuing season at triple-A Colorado Springs. More than a year later, the power-hitting first baseman got the call to the Majors for the first time, replacing an injured Justin Morneau.
Because of a statistical anomaly, the record books say that Paulsen’s first hit came May 22, 2014—almost two months before his actual Major League debut. This is because he hit a pinch-hit single on September 1 in the resumption of a suspended game against the Giants that had started on May 22. The record books credit all the stats from that game to the day it began.
Cal Towey, the 17th-ranked prospect in the LA Angels system, is following in the footsteps of his father and uncle, both of whom played minor league ball. After being drafted in 2013 and spending 2013 with the short-season rookie league Orem Owls, Cal batted .279 with 10 home runs and 63 RBIs in his first full season with the high-A Inland Empire 66ers. Cal went 3-for-3 in the Cal League playoff opener Wednesday night in a win over the Padres affiliate, the Lake Elsinore Storm. He took a moment to speak with us toward the end of the regular season about life in professional baseball.
Tom Windle, ranked as the Dodgers #7 prospect, was drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft. Scouts project him as a second or third starter in the big leagues, with a target date of 2016. He just wrapped up a 12-8 campaign with a 4.26 ERA with the high-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, but before he did, he took a few moments to speak with us.
With minor league baseball regular seasons wrapping up over Labor Day weekend, I thought I’d look back on my year in minor league baseball. This was the year of the minors for me. I got to 11 games, from short-season single-A to triple-A, and every one of them was great in its own way. Here they are in chronological order.
April 3: Burlington Bees at Beloit Snappers Beloit, Wisconsin Single-A, Oakland A’s
Great Smalltown, USA, experience. It was opening day, and the coldest I’ve ever been at a baseball game, but the fact that they let me lead the crowd in Take Me Out to the Ballgame made it a lifelong memory. (I wrote about it here.)
April 13: Winston-Salem Dash at Wilmington Blue Rocks
Single-A, Kansas City Royals
We did not see Mr. Celery “CEL-ebrate” any runs because the Blue Rocks were shut out, but it’s a great stadium, and the crab fries were awesome. (I wrote about it here.)
May 24: Visalia Rawhide at San Jose Giants
San Jose, California
Single-A, San Francisco Giants
My friend Phil got to golf for between-inning prizes at a classic minor league park. (I wrote about it here.)