WEST LAFAYETTE– Purdue baseball alumni Josh Lindblom, Kevin Plawecki and Nick Wittgren were all among the 60-man MLB player pools announced by their Major League Baseball franchises.
Lindblom (2007-08) is set for his first season with the Milwaukee Brewers after signing a three-year contract in December. Plawecki (2010-12) is also slated for his first season with a new team after being traded to the Boston Red Sox in January. Wittgren (2011-12) returns to the Cleveland Indians’ bullpen after enjoying his finest big league season in 2019.
MLB teams can have up to 60 ballplayers in their player pools, all 60 being available to play for the club at some point this season. The 60-game campaign is expected to begin July 23 or 24. Preseason training begins Wednesday, July 1. Spring Training was halted March 12, the same day in which the remainder of the NCAA’s spring sports and winter championships were also canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Should Lindblom, Plawecki and Wittgren all play in MLB games this season, it would mark the first time since the 2017 campaign that Purdue had at least three alumni in the big leagues at the same time. Cameron Perkins (2010-12) made his big league debut with the Philadelphia Phillies that year, joining with the other three to make it an alumni quartet. All four players were selected for the program’s Best of the 2000s (2000-20) team in the Build A Ballclub voting series held in May of this year. Lindblom was also serving as a guest analyst for some of ESPN’s telecasts of the Korea Baseball Organization in May and June. He was the MVP of the KBO in 2019 as the ace of the league champion Doosan Bears.
MLB rosters were scheduled to expand to 26 players this year. All players on a club’s 40-man roster had to be included in its 60-man player pool. Initial lists for 60-man player pools were due Sunday, June 28, but not all 60 slots had to be filled yet. The trade deadline is Aug. 31 and only players in 60-man player pools may be traded.
The new roster protocols put in place for the MLB regular season include…
• Teams allotted up to 30 players to begin the season
• After two weeks of play (Aug. 7), roster size drops to 28
• After two more weeks of play (Aug. 21), roster size drops to 26
• Teams will travel with an unofficial three-man taxi squad (one player must be a catcher)
Most MLB clubs are holding preseason training at their home stadiums. However, many clubs are making arrangements for portions of their 60-man player pools to be part of preseason training at the stadium of their nearest Minor League Baseball affiliate.
Seven other Purdue alumni were active in MiLB during the 2019 campaign – Tanner Andrews (2015-18, Marlins), Nick Dalesandro (2016-18, Diamondbacks), Matt Frawley (2014-16, Yankees), Jacson McGowan (2016-18, Rays), Jordan Minch (2013-14, Cubs), Patrick J. Smith (2018-19, Royals) and Perkins (Dodgers). Frawley retired midway through the season due to injury and a job opportunity. Kyle Johnson (2013-16) was still planning to pitch professionally in independent ball this season after an injury led to his release by the New York Yankees in February 2019. Alec Olund (2015-18) also played independent ball last summer.
The MiLB season was officially suspended March 31 and MLB agreed to play minor league players $400 a week through the end of May. After that it was up to each individual franchise to continue to pay their minor leaguers. Many clubs opted to continue paying those players through the summer months.
After being an all-star in the Arizona Fall League in 2019, Minch was vocal about his frustrations with the manner in which non-roster spring training invites and the 60-man player pool were handled this year by his club. His post on Twitter and Instagram on Sunday evening provided a peek at the state of limbo that some minor leaguers, specifically pitchers, have been stuck in since March.