|Posted by timahuwe on November 30, 2015 at 6:35 AM|
Last March, I made the jaunt out to Mesa. It was very enjoyable watching all the fields being in play for practice. Four fields of players taking batting practice, tracking flies, and taking fielding instruction. Among the 'invisible' decisions is which players to keep. No, not the high draft picks. They're sticking around, anyway. With options like Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres, it was a question of where they were getting assigned. With other players, the decision is more final. Such was the story with Tanner Witt.
Witt had a successful season in the Frontier League in Rockford in 2014. His OPS was .770 as an infielder, mostly. He had played mostly at second, but as a 24 year old in Mesa, he was playing wherever the team had at-bats. Or infield grounder practice The premise was, if he could stick with South Bend, it would make sense for him to make the jump to the minor leagues. However, at 24, staying in the Mesa compound made no sense.
In the bottom rung of the state-side legues, he would get chump change for pay. He'd be better off in the Frontier League, where the pay is a bit better. As it happened, he didn't make the team he wanted to make, and was (effectively) released. He returned to Rockford, and had an OPS of .864 in the Frontier League his second time around. He stayed there a month, until....
The Frederick Keys came a-calling. A rival of the Carolina League Myrtle Beach Pelicans, they are an Orioles affiliate. The O's signed Witt to play in the Carolina League, and he represented rather well. Playing mostly at 3B, Witt posted an OPS of .683, and probably will be with the Orioles pipeline into next season.
Scouting and developing should never stop. They might not come to fruition for the pipeline, but I'm reasonably confident Witt will note to former Frontier League mates that the Cubs facility in Mesa made him a better player. Both for the Rockford Aviators, and eventually, the Baltimore Orioles system.