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Old 06-02-2019, 06:08 PM   #21
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Wesley Metheny

My Arizona League season ended with a whimper. My first two games back saw us win big, and I scored a total of 6 times. The next four game I registered just one hit; on the bright side it was a home run. Losing three of those four games also eliminated us from the “playoffs”. What an extra 3 to 10 games would do for anyone’s development is probably negligible in the grand scheme of things, but no one likes to lose.

The scouts and coaches invited everyone to stick around as the MLB’s roster expansion was coming soon and that would cause a domino effect in the minors. I cleared all of my belongings from Arizona and got a ticket to Everett, I left some belongings up there knowing my Arizona stay would be short.

Austin Filiere decided to stick around Arizona. He’s from here so it would be easy for him to grab a part time job in the meanwhile as he waited to hear back from the Mariners.

Gareth Morgan’s family lived in Calgary so he headed back home for the interim. He was close enough that if he needed to he could get to Everett in a day or two.

That left Luke Miller, the reigning Arizona League Hitting King, far from his home in Muncie, Indiana. I invited him to come with me to Everett. Without having a housing stipend it would help to have a roommate and Luke was more than willing to split the rent with me, plus with my 20 games of experience and his incredible rookie season I honestly could not believe that the two of us wouldn’t get asked to join the AquaSox in the coming weeks.
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Old 06-02-2019, 06:36 PM   #22
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Here’s Wes’s final tally of Arizona League stats.
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Old 06-08-2019, 12:13 AM   #23
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Scott Metheny

The first thing you notice about Luke Miller is his robust square jaw; after that you notice his rocket of an arm. Luke had an incredibly productive season in the ARL. He won both the Right Field Defensive Player of the Year and the League MVP on top of numerous hitting titles. The year in rookie league earned him a three game stint at Low-A, a three games Miller likely wanted to forget. In 12 plate appearances he got on base all of twice but struck out 6 times. He was at least given three games in Everett, unlike my brother.

After that disappointment Miller came home with Wes for the fall. There wasn’t as much work to do around the farm this time of year, but it was a roof over your head and there were odd jobs around town that young men could fill as the college kids all flocked back to Morgantown. Luke bunked in my bed while I moved back to West Virginia for my junior year of college. When Winter Break rolled around I took up staying in the basement. It was only slightly weird having a man kick me out of my own bed, but he was a help to Pop and seemed to be Wes’ best friend.

“Not that I don’t enjoy having you around, but what are you doing here?” Luke and I were having a catch in the fields.

Luke held the ball for a moment before shrugging, “I’m not welcome at home anymore.”

I caught the ball as he threw it back. “That seems a weird thing to be nonchalant about.”

“My dad just doesn’t like me.”

“Again, that’s not exactly a normal sentence.” I am not unfamiliar with the idea of trauma involving one’s father - Wes and I had that in spades - but to be completely disowned by a family member was alien to me. My whole life I always knew that if things didn’t work out I could always come back to the farm. We were privileged in that regard.

I missed him on the return throw. It flew over his head and he chased it down. Without answering my last response, Luke threw a 350 foot line drive right at my belly button. Yeah, he had a big league arm; and an world class jawline.
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Old 06-08-2019, 12:15 AM   #24
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Here’s a picture of Luke Miller I generated in honor of his MVP Season. As well as Scott’s ratings.



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Old 06-09-2019, 07:38 PM   #25
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Wesley Metheny

First no call up at the end of the season. Then no Spring Training invite. And now I wouldn’t even be starting the year in Single A? What does a guy have to do to get a promotion? It was beginning to dawn on me that maybe I was not viewed as much as a prospect for the Seattle Mariners as much as I was seen as an organizational filler. I was a guy they could move around the field, the lineup, and clubs and plug into wherever a hole existed.

And as mad as I am about the lack of respect I have been given by not even being tagged for re-joining Everett I was even more mad about Luke Miller not getting to start the year in a higher level. How a man wins league MVP and not get promoted is beyond me. To Luke’s credit he did not let it bother him too much, he believes as a 21 year old he has his whole life ahead of him but I am concerned about being kept in short season games until after my 24th birthday.

Not playing baseball for 9+ months can really take a toll on a young professional. Obviously you go to the batting cages as often as possible, and me and Luke got into a routine of doing fielding drills, but it isn’t the same as playing everyday. Mark Catts, Bobby’s personal hitting coach, agreed to take the two of us as we joined the two of them during Bobby’s scheduled time. Mark did not mind at all but I could tell it got Bobby a little flustered.

Luckily we did have Scott’s games to keep up with, Luke was always up for a trip to West Virginia University, a short 50 minute drive from Pop’s farm. Scott hit a robust .446 over 101 at-bats, with 42 runs. 25 RBI’s, and a shocking 7 stolen bases as a catcher. Defensively Scott was constantly being brought up in baseball magazines as the top fielding catcher in the upcoming draft. That defense has tagged him as a likely 3rd to 5th round prospect, and if a certain team really fell in love with his glove he could be picked as early as the middle of round 2.
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Old 06-12-2019, 05:50 PM   #26
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Scott Metheny

Wes was not too happy when he received that late May phone call telling him he would be assigned to the Dominican Summer League to start his season. Besides never being the best Spanish speaker, Wes saw the league as a demotion from the Arizona League. He would be a fish out of water, and wouldn’t have any of his friends from Arizona joining him.

“JC will be with you,” Luke had protested one night at dinner. Juan Carlos Camacho would serve as the DSL Mariners starting catcher. Last year Camacho split time between ASL and the Everett AquaSox, he and Wes must have been teammates during some of that time but I wasn’t positive for how long.

“Camacho hardly speaks English.”

“And you hardly speak Spanish,” Luke sharply retorted. “Anyway you get to start playing games sooner than the rest of us. What is it June 2nd? Arizona doesn’t start until the 25th, by which point they might even send you up to us.”

June 2nd. That was four days before the draft. I had been invited to the televised events on the first day as rumors had been picking up about a few teams having me listed as their top choice at catcher. I never expected to be at such a high profile event, sure Bobby was going to have all the fanfare next year but who was I to being getting this treatment?

A part of me wondered if I was only invited so that they could build hype for next year’s draft where Bobby would possibly be a Top Ten choice.
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Old 06-16-2019, 06:35 PM   #27
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Wesley Metheny

I spent Scott’s draft day like most other days. I woke up at the complex. My roommate, Ronald Rosario, and I would go to eat breakfast and work with each other on our English and Spanish. Ronald was from a little town just a about an hour away from the Mariners Complex, which meant that he usually had friends come out to games. Of the 130 spectators he probably knew 20 to 30. After breakfast we reported to the field and would run outfield drills; this week the Mariners saw me as a Center Fielder, I’ve started all four games of the season there.

It has not been the best start to the year for me. Over four games I’ve scored three times, hit two singles and a double, and have three walks. I’ve only batted in one run and stole a base, both coming in the first game of the year. The worst stat is my strikeouts. I am striking out once per game.

I was to bat second today. In the first I was given a good chance to earn my second RBI of the season when Christopher Torres hit a leadoff triple. However, I ended up taking what was given to me and walked. Onil Pena scored Torres with an infield hit the next at bat, sending me to second, then Jose Cano drove me in on a two out double. That run would end up being the eventual game winner as the Rangers only drove in one run the rest of the game.

After showering I headed straight home and pulled open my laptop. The second round of the draft was just beginning. Good, I would still be able to watch Scott’s name get called.

“Hey compa,” our catcher and de facto captain Juan Carlos Camacho popped his head into my room. “You coming into town with us?”

“Not today, my brother is about to get drafted.”

“No way. Buena suerte, Conejo.” The team had taken to calling me "Rabbit" in Spanish because of my speed. I thanked JC then returned my attention to the screen.

The only redeeming thing about not being around for the draft was that MLB.com was at least doing a solid job of covering the first day of the draft. It would be great to see them cut to Scott, Pop and Bobby celebrating when they finally called Scott’s name.

A string of pitchers passed. Jordan Verdon, a very good third basemen out of California, went to St. Louis with the 10th pick in the third round. Another couple of pitchers then at pick 13 the Rockies took a Catcher out of Florida, Elih Marrero. He was a switch hitter, and maybe the best pure hitting catcher in the draft.

Then four more pitchers and a high school shortstop.

At 19th the Houston Astros picked M.J. Melendez. He was another college catcher and much like Scott was a defense first, low bat catcher. The only thing was, he was not in the same class as Scott defensively. “What a bad pick,” I muttered to myself.

If this was how teams were going to draft I might not see Scott get drafted today at all. I let myself open up a new tab and see who had been drafted already. High School pitcher Kristofer Armstrong went first overall, followed by outfield Seth Beer. The Mariners took a closer prospect in the first with 23 year old Matt Pidich who still needs to develop a curveball to accompany his 94 MPH fastball.

The Orioles took the first catcher, an 18 year old kid from Georgia named Will Banfield, sixth overall. 21st overall saw the next catcher, 19 year old Sam McMillan, go to the Arizona Diamondbacks. I saw one more little C in the position column. At 28th overall the Washington Nationals took Scott Metheny.

“Yes!” I jumped out of my chair screaming. “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

Teammates started flooding the room to see what was wrong with me. I was too happy to contain though. When JC entered the doorway I grabbed him by the shoulder and let him know my brother was a first round draft pick. I was screaming in Spanish, in English, in any other language I knew or some I didn’t.

My brother, the first round draft pick.
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Old 06-20-2019, 03:51 PM   #28
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Wesley Metheny

Game 15 of the season. I am still in the Dominican Republic. Today I did something I never did before in my professional career. Two games into a three game series against the Dominican League Blue Jays; series is split 1-1.

Bottom of the third. Jays lead 4-0. Our leadoff hitter stuck out. Chris Torres grounds out, bringing me up with two outs. I take four straight pitches and earn the walk. My roommate Ronald Rossario is up, and he’s hitting a robust .373 for the year.

Ball One.

Ball Two.

I look across the field to third base. The coach gives me the sign and I take my lead. Inhale. Exhale. The pitcher starts his motion and I take off. A fastball high gets to the catcher quickly and I can already see the ball flying to second at the same time I start my slide…

OUT!

59 career games. 13 steals. 1 caught stealing. Not too bad.

I ended the day 0 for 2 with two walks. It ended a 7 game hitting streak I had going. At this point in the season I’m hitting .286/ .420/ .393. The biggest development however was before this game when I was named the new starting catcher for the team. JC Camacho was sent to the Arizona League earlier that day.

Speaking of catchers, it is June 17th, less than three weeks away from the Draftee Signing Deadline and Scott was still unsigned by the Washington Nationals.
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Old 06-24-2019, 07:48 PM   #29
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Scott Metheny

I could never tell him, but I am envious of the position Wesley was in last year as an 8th round pick college senior. Wes agreed to take his slotted amount of $152,000 and call it a day. I remember thinking at the time how much money Wes was receiving, and here I was being offered over seven times as much and considering turning them down.

$1,090,000 was the offer from the Nationals. On the first of July Washington signed their second round pick above his slot value. They told me that day that $1,090,000 would be their final offer. The signing deadline is the sixth, otherwise known as tomorrow. Wes was the only person I ever knew who went through this process and he was all the way in the Dominican Republic; I couldn’t bother him with a phone call. It would be too much like rubbing it in.

So I called my adviser. John McGrath was a mid level agent with Wasserman Sports Agency. They were the group Wes went with last year, and they hooked me up with an adviser this year. If things go well and I do decide to sign with the Nats John will transition into my agent. Right now he couldn’t speak to Washington on my behalf, but he could tell me where my value was and according to him it was not at $1.09M.

“This is your one chance to play hardball in the next 5 to 7 years. This sets the stage for how the team will view you moving forward and whether or not they think they can low-ball you, kid. When it comes time for arbitration they will remember if you roll on your back here or not,” even over the phone I could just see John throwing a stress ball up and down methodically. He is your textbook agent, a real Ari Gould type.

“What if I try to raise the price and burn that bridge.” I could feel my face growing red as I worked myself up, “Couldn’t this make them see me as a trouble maker?”

“Kid,” I swear I heard him catch that stress ball with a thwack. “You were taken in the first round of the MLB draft, a failure to sign you would be a massive disappointment for the Nationals. You hold the biggest bargaining chip, the ability to walk away. To me it’s $1.22 or bust.”

$130,000. That was the hold up. Less money than Wes made in his 8th round signing bonus. I don’t want to call that a small sum of money, but when we are talking a million dollars regardless it starts to look like six of one half a dozen of the other.

I realize I have been tapping my finger on the table for a couple minutes. It was a nervous tick. I had no idea what to say back to that. McGrath knew way more than I did, it would be so much easier for me if he could just do all the negotiating; but if I signed him as an agent I would forfeit my NCAA eligibility and screw myself over if the deal wasn’t good enough.

I must have gotten inside my head too long because John broke the silence, his voice softened. “Scott,” the sound of my name calmed me down and I exhaled. “They like you. They want to sign you. The ball is in your court. I think you can fight this and go get some more money, or you can say you want to play ball and take the offer on the table. Talk it over with your family and let me know when you decide.”

“Thank you.”

“Take care, Kid.”

The phone sat there on my table, my lifeless lifeline staring back at me. Wes and I had already talked a few times on the phone this past month. He called to congratulate me on my draft. I called to ask him about how his process was and what I could expect. He called to tell me about a hitting slump he was dealing with. He called to tell me about a Dominican girl he was talking to. I’m not sure how many long distance hours we’d put into Pop’s phone bill because of this, and he wouldn’t tell me if I asked.

I dialed the next best number I could think of. “Luke, hey how’s Arizona?”

“Scotty!” Luke’s dad was a world class asshole so Wes’ teammate, ex-teammate, lived with us over the winter, we got pretty close during that time together. “I can’t talk for long I’ve got batting practice in an hour. What’s up?”

“I was wondering why you didn’t go back to college last year after you got drafted.” Luke began his professional career out of his junior year, at the ripe young age of 20. “Didn’t you feel like the 19th round was too late for you?”

“Yeah, I for sure could have gone back to college for another year and try to prove myself to some teams.” I looked around my bedroom at all the awards my brothers and I had acquired over the years. “But I wanted to be a baseball player. I wanted to play as much of this game as I could, money be damned.”

“You won the MVP though,” I picked up Bobby’s U-18 Baseball World Cup Gold Medal that hung off one of my old travel championship trophies. “You had to have known you were better than a 19th round pick.”

“MVP last year, and no runs or extra base hits this year.”

“We play a fickle game,” I mused as I cleared off a space on the shelf to hang the Gold Medal.

“And we love it regardless,” we both laughed.

“Before I let you go can I ask you if you think $130,000 is enough money to not play baseball?”

“Scotty. If I could I would pay $130,000 just to be a professional baseball player.”

I packed my bags as I thought about what Luke and John had told me. If I did decide to take this offer I would have to be in West Palm Beach tomorrow morning. The day dragged on as my mind was in a constant back and forth.

“You know you can’t take that offer right?” Bobby was now standing in the doorway of my room. He was sweating from his workout with Mark Catts, I was the one with a professional sports contract on the table and he was the one who had been working out all day.

“How do you figure?” I continued moving clothing into my suitcase.

“You can get more money,” he shrugged as if it were that simple. “Hold out until tomorrow, tell them if they don’t give you at least $1.5M you will be returning to West Virginia next season.”

I closed the suitcase and moved it next to the door. “And what if I don’t want to play for West Virginia next year?”

“Of course you don’t want to play for West Virginia next year, but you at least have to get the Nats into thinking you are willing to. It is all about the game, and the game is getting paid.”

The game is getting paid. Yeah, that’s what dad thought.

As soon as I thought it I could hear Wes’ voice, echoing Pap’s words. Pap learned to not talk poorly about his dead son to his grandsons, but growing up with dad “around” Wes heard the bulk of Pap’s criticisms. He wasn’t afraid to repeat them either.

“You feed my cows yet?” Pap himself was now in the hallway as well, staring down Bobby who was still in his work out clothes.

“Geez old man I just got home.”

“Meaning my girls haven’t eaten all day,” Pap had a way of exaggerating when it came to his cows. Bobby grabbed a pair of jeans to toss over his gym shorts and left us alone. “You check Twitter to see how Wesley did today? Hit another homerun, like yesterday”

“Nah I’ve been busy packing,” I had shown Pap last year how to check Twitter for game updates for prospects. You can at least find boxscores fairly regularly, and when you are lucky a video although those were far more common last year when Wes was in Arizona

“So it looks like I’m taking you to the airport tomorrow?”

“Maybe.”

“Still mulling over the bonus?” He sat down on Wes’ old bed and started sorting my socks.

“Yeah I just wish I could have talked more to Wes about it.” If nothing else this process had me appreciating my relationship with my older brother.

“Well that’s easy.” Pap slumped down and mimicked chewing and spitting sunflower seeds, “Hey Scott. It’s me your brother Wes.”

I had to smile as I shook my head. “You do know that Wes doesn’t talk like that right?”

“Sure I do,” he spit another batch of invisible seeds.

“Okay, Wes. What do you think I should do about this signing bonus. Do I take what’s there and become a baseball player, or do I try to hold out for more money?”

“What do you mean become a baseball player?”

“You know what I meant.”

“No I don’t,” Wes cut me off. “You are a baseball player Scott. You’ve been one your entire life. Whether or not you sign this contract doesn’t change that.”

I spent the rest of the night packing by myself. When I let myself take a break I checked Twitter and was pleasantly surprised to see that Luke had hit his first homer of the year. If I were a superstitious man I might take the home runs of my two best friends on the same day as a sign. I told Pap at dinner I was still mulling things over but only 15 minutes later I had John on the phone and I let him know.

“I am a baseball player. I play baseball for the Washington Nationals.”
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