Some Hilo minor leaguers could face uncertain futures

  • Quintin Torres-Costa

It’s only a matter of time before the minor league baseball season is canceled, and the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic came down swiftly with the reported release of hundreds of players to cut costs.

Major League Baseball had agreed to pay minor leaguers $400 per week through Sunday.

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Quintin Torres-Costa, one of seven Big Island minor leaguers, is still working out in Arizona and waiting on what happens next for the Milwaukee Brewers left-hander in Triple-A ball.

He’s been told MLB teams will have a taxi squad, sort of like the NFL’s practice squad where players practice but don’t play for the big club.

It would consist of Triple-A and other top prospects to provide fresh ammunition if an MLB player were injured and spent time on the injured list.

Kean Wong, of the San Francisco Giants, is in the same boat as Torres-Costa, on the cusp of making the majors.

Those two are likely candidates for MLB’s taxi squad for their respective organizations.

Micah Bello, a second-round pick of the Brewers in 2018, is well regarded by Milwaukee and won’t get released.

The Brewers could send the outfielder to the taxi squad to get more work or keep him at home.

The future is less certain for Cleveland Indians farmhand Jodd Carter, a 24th round pick in 2014, and Texas Rangers right-hander Joey Jarneski, a 12th round pick in 2017.

Edgar Barclay, a St. Joseph graduate who never played BIIF baseball, was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 15th round out of Cal State Bakersfield in 2019. He’s still raw with just 16 games and 26 innings pitched in rookie ball last year.

“I would expect Quintin, Wong, and Bello to remain safe,” said Kyle Glaser, a Baseball America national writer. “I think the others may be on the chopping block.”

Torres-Costa is living by himself in an apartment in Arizona and is training at a gym run by former Brewers trainers.

“At the end of spring training, I felt good coming out of rehab (for Tommy John surgery),” he said. “In my last outing, I was throwing harder 92 to 94 mph and I felt comfortable. I hadn’t felt like that in a long time, then the pandemic shut everything down.”

He doesn’t know if he’ll be promoted to the taxi squad or not. The Brewers have two lefties in the bullpen in Josh Hader and Alex Claudino.

Kodi Medeiros has never pitched above Double-A since being drafted in the first round in 2014, but Medeiros spent time on the Chicago White Sox’s 40-man roster after being acquired in 2018. He was removed earlier this year and sent to Triple-A.

Wong is listed on San Francisco’s 40-man roster. One benefit is being enrolled in the MLB Health plan.

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The health of minor league baseball is still at a crossroads. MLB still wants to eliminate 40 teams after the 2020 season.

None of those teams feature any Big Islanders (Torres-Costa, Wong, Bello, Barclay, Medeiros, Carter or Jarneski).

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