As we close in on the start of what is sure to be a weird 2020 MLB season - with it already featuring a bunch of deviations from the normal rules - there are six former NC State Wolfpack baseball players who are eyeing stints on their respective organizations’ big league clubs this summer/fall.
The minor league system is littered with former Pack9 studs, but with the MiLB season killed due to the coronavirus (and the continual insistence by owners that they’re struggling), the restructured rules for 2020 feature 60-man player pools for MLB clubs to choose from. Six NC State players are hanging out in those pools. Let’s take a look (not like that, you perv):
As the most successful active Pack9 alum (soon to be the most successful of them all, at least by career WAR), we’ll start off with Turner. He’s freakishly fast, has a ton of power for his size, and mans the most important defensive position on the field (outside of catcher) for the defending World Champions.
As Steven covered a few days ago, Rodon is making his redemption tour with the White Sox this summer after undergoing Tommy John Surgery last year. The lefty with the devastating slider is likely to be brought up to speed slowly, working out of the bullpen to start with. Once he’s back in form, though, he’ll easily be back into the starting rotation since the White Sox rotation is... how do I put this kindly... their rotation is construed of exactly the types of players you would expect a team like the White Sox to feature... Yes. That.
Despite never playing in a single minor league game, the 2020 1st round pick of the Giants was placed on (in?) the 60-man player pool for the organization this year. A lot of teams are doing this with their recent top draft picks so they don’t miss a potential year of development, but after Buster Posey announced that he would sit out the 2020 season, the chances for an appearance in the big league this year for Bailey increased substantially. The team is already without back-up catcher Aramis Garcia (hip surgery), who would be the unquestioned starter with Posey’s absence. Standing in the way for Bailey are journeymen Rob Brantly and Tyler Heineman, unproven Chadwich Tromp, and former Georgia Tech player and 2018 #2 overall pick Joey Bart. Chances are still slim that Bailey gets a call up, but if Brantly, Heineman, and Tromp all struggle, he could get a quick look.
Like Bailey, Wilson is in the Giants’ 60-man player pool for developmental purposes only, but the chances are there that he could get a cup of coffee in the bigs should things get weird.
Knizner is set to start off the season on the bench for the Cardinals, backing up future Hall-of-Famer Yadier Molina and his bionic knees. He’ll need to battle veteran Matt Wieters (another former Georgia Tech catcher), Molina’s back-up in 2019, for playing time. However, with Molina being a 38-year-old catcher in the final year of his contract and Wieters a quickly-diminishing 34-year-old catcher on a 1-year, low money deal, the Cardinals will likely want to give Knizner plenty of opportunities so they know if they should build around him for the future or hit the free agent market for their 2021 backstop.
Mendoza is also in the Cardinals’ 60-man player pool. St. Louis has an absurd five third basemen in their pool, but Mendoza is the elder statesman of that group (at the old age of 24). Should Tommy Edman struggle in his sophomore year as the organization’s starter at the hot corner (unlikely), or either bench players Brad Miller or Rangel Ravelo not provide the bench production the team desires (more likely), Mendoza could find himself taking the first big league at-bats of his career.