As many of you know, I’m on a sojourn this year into the backwaters of baseball. I’ve been having a grand old time exploring, watching, and integrating myself into the minor league baseball world. Having said that, the countless hours of MiLB.tv, not to mention the 2 dozen or so games I’ve attended in person have given me a particular insight into watching players who barely qualify for a post game cerveza. Here are some tips to help you survive when one of these neophytes makes his way onto the playing field for your favorite big league team. This article can be used for nearly any emerging prospect, but is primarily centered on tonight’s 1st big league start for Martin Perez.
1. Remember, they literally have no idea what the hell they are doing. When you were 21 you didn’t know what you were doing either. Lucky for you, 45,000 people weren’t standing there watching, as is the case for Mr. Perez. One of the things about Colby Lewis that gives folks from Wash to you a bit of confidence is their experience. Colby has substantially less “stuff” than Martin Perez, but he’s a substantially better pitcher- today. The adversity Martin has faced has been as the top-prospect, or when his stuff hasn’t been good and there are 5,000 people in the stands. The adversity you face at the big league level is an entirely different beast, and as they say, there is no substitute for experience. (case in point, Justin Grimm now knows exactly what it feels like to snap your neck around to locate the mistake you just made to one of the top hitters in the game)
2. Enjoy it. One of the things I’ve learned most this year is to savor the moments of clarity or execution. He won’t be consistently good tonight, but he will, hopefully, show you moments with well located 94mph fastballs, swings and misses on the fading changup, and a bit of knee buckle on the curve.
3. Understand the process. Martin Perez is younger than 8 of the 12 pitchers on the staff of the Rangers Low-A affiliate, Hickory Crawdads. He turned 21 in April- of this year! He’s starting a game in a sold out stadium, against a division opponent, on a Saturday night, under the lights, for a first place club. Many have said, he’s not entirely ready for this, and I tend to agree. I do think however that almost everyone in the dugout and front offices tonight will be palpably excited to see what the kid does. Regardless of the outcome, his prospect status probably won’t see much fluctuation one way or another based solely on tonight. There’s a solid likelihood, when the proven pitchers are healthy, this kid is going back to AAA to continue his development. But he’s here tonight and he’ll be here again eventually.
4. The Rangers will still be in first place at the end of the night. I’ve done some of my world-famous, SABRmetric, algorithm based permutations, calculations, and salutations and they all seem to indicate that it is mathematically impossible for the Rangers to relinquish their lead on the sole results of this evening’s performance. Having said that, you should probably just calm the hell down, grab some drinks, some grub, someone you love and at least one other person you can tolerate and enjoy watching the Ranger’s #1 pitching prospect take the bump on a Saturday night.
This will be fun. As always, enjoy baseball.