Minnich reports to Fort Myers and the Greenville Drive
Two seasons back, Nathan Minnich was well on his way to becoming the national player of the year in NCAA Division II baseball. At the close of the 2012 college baseball season, the Shepherd first baseman was named the winner of the Tino Martinez Award after the Rams had won the WVIAC championship and he had attained glorious statistics.
Minnich had a senior season even better than his previous power-loaded seasons in his first three years with Rams’ coach Wayne Riser. In 2012, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound graduate of Waynesboro (Pa.) High had batted a robust .487, had 72 RBIs in a 52-game season, pounded out 21 homers, produced an on-base percentage of .645 and and an eye-straining .980 slugging percentage — all accomplished in weather often so nasty for playing baseball that even the robins were hunkered down and not chasing earthworms.
Minnich’s senior year of whole numbers came after he had batted .376 as a starting freshman, .425 as a sophomore and .433 as a junior. Shepherd had also won a conference championship in his freshman year.
In his four unparalleled seasons at Shepherd, Minnich had hit 58 home runs and driven in 206 runs in 178 games.
When the 2012 season was completed, Minnich was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the eighth round on that summer’s major league draft. After receiving a $10,000 signing bonus, he reported to the Lowell Spinners of the short-season New York-Penn League. In 12 games in that rookie league, his batting average was .136 and he was sent to the Gulf Coast Red Sox in Florida to finish the summer. Gulf Coast played in another rookie league.
At Gulf Coast, Minnich batted .232 with 95 official at-bats. His short summer of 2012 went without him hitting any home runs with the wood bats that were not used at Shepherd.
It was back to Florida and the Gulf Coast Red Sox to begin the 2013 minor league season. When he showed more promise than the previous summer, Minnich was elevated to Lowell. While at Gulf Coast this time, Minnich hit .267 in 21 games. But he did not hit a home run.
Back in Lowell where his professional career had its beginnings, Minnich played in 24 games and batted .226. He did hit one home run there.
This March, Minnich is at the Red Sox minor league spring training complex in Ft. Myers and has an early assignment with the Greenville (SC) Drive of the Class A South Atlantic League. He may not break spring training with the Drive.
Greenville lists Nick Moore as another first baseman on its early-camp roster. Moore is listed at 6-foot-2, 200-pounds. The Brockway (Ga.) High product batted only .183 on 186 official at-bats with Lowell last summer. He had started the 2013 season with Greenville but showed so little with his .158 batting average and 47 strikeouts in only 76 at-bats that he was sent back to Lowell. His bonus money is larger than was Minnich’s, so the ever-present baseball politics favor him.
Minnich will be in his third year of trying to impress Boston front office officials. He’s now 24 years old and married.
His home runs and RBI numbers have to show some improvement.
Should he not remain with Greenville coming out of spring training, his next destination is unknown. If he stays with the Drive this season, that team is in the same league as the Hagerstown Suns.
Minnich has returned to spring training. He needs to return to the hot-hitting career he had on the cold and wind-swept days when he played in front of 75 people at Shepherd’s Fairfax Field. Or his time in professional baseball could be in jeopardy.