The MINK Baseball League, a summer, college-level, wood-bat league currently comprised of teams in Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska, is feeling special pride these days, watching several former players in the league help their current Major League Baseball teams to postseason success. Of the four clubs still competing for the American and National league championships and the chance to play in the World Series, starting next week, three have ex-MINK League players on their LCS rosters, two playing prominent roles as full-time or platoon starters.
One of the leaders of the hottest postseason teams, the Kansas City Royals, is left fielder Alex Gordon, who spent the summers of 2002 and 2003 playing MINK League baseball in places like Chillicothe and St. Joseph for the now-defunct Beatrice, Neb., Bruins.
In the Kauffman Stadium third-base dugout across the field from Gordon tonight or whenever the weather allows the ALCS to resume will be Caleb Joseph, a rookie catcher for the Baltimore Orioles.
Joseph, who played for the Chillicothe Mudcats in both 2005 and 2006, made his big league postseason debut in memorable style Saturday in Game 2 in Baltimore. He hit a sacrifice fly in his first at-bat and singled in each of his next two plate appearances. He also contributed to Baltimore’s ill-fated bid to square the series at one game apiece when he threw out Royals speedster Jarrod Dyson on a stolen base attempt in the late innings.
Over in the senior circuit, one of the veteran reserves for the Cardinals and an important contributor to their 2011 World Series victory over Texas is utility infielder Daniel Descalso.
Descalso, who had a strong final six weeks to the regular season, was a standout for the MINK League’s Clarinda, Iowa, A’s in 2005.
In addition to these currently-active MLB postseason players, another former MINK Leaguer is part of the Royals’ major-league roster, although he closed the season on the team’s 60-days disabled list.
Pitcher Michael Mariot spent the better part of two months as a member of the Royals’ bullpen, earning one victory, before returning to the minors and then getting injured. Back in 2009, Mariot spent the regular MINK League season with Beatrice. The trio of players still participating in MLB’s postseason are only part of the story of the contribution of ex-MINK Leaguers to the success of playoff qualifiers.