HOWLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Just one year ago, Howland’s Craig Lewis lived out a life-long dream. He was drafted in the 33rd round by the Baltimore Orioles.
“I made some huge leaps and bounds as far as my development went in the offseason,” Lewis said. “I’m really excited to put that into play whenever that comes.”
The problem is, no one knows for sure when or if there will even be a Minor League season this year thanks to COVID-19. Spring training for players at all levels of professional baseball was shut down in March, leaving the fate of this year’s Minor League campaign unclear.
“If there’s no season, honestly, it will kinda be similar to what I’m doing right now. My strength with the Orioles is still providing me with workout, so I’m able to get in,” Lewis added.
Even prior to the pandemic, there were rumblings of a radical overhaul of the Minor League. Such changes could potentially eliminate some 40 affiliates from across the country. Plus, the first-year player draft has been cut from 40 rounds to just five.
“It’s definitely tough that some guys or even a lot of guys won’t get the same experience as me,” Lewis said. “But I think it’s motivation to work harder, and if you really want to play professional ball, then you need to give it everything you’ve got. All your focus, all your attention needs to go to getting better every day and getting yourself to that level if you get the chance.”
The fact remains, even Major League front offices are still in the dark regarding the future of Minor League Baseball overall.
“I really appreciate Minor League Baseball. Having grown up right next to the Scrappers — and played there in high school and even played there in pro ball — I think it’s a shame that some of that might go away. It’s hard to say whether or not that’s gonna happen, but it’s really disappointing that those changes might be happening. I feel bad for guys who might not get that experience if it does,” Lewis added.