MLB still locked out, but you need a fix? Here are a couple of baseball alternatives to get you through to Opening Day, whenever that may be now that Manfred has canceled the first six games of the season. If the lockout continues through the season, we could see some big-name players, including Bryce Harper, play outside the USA.
While associated with the MLB, the MiLB is not impacted (in terms of scheduling games) by the lockout. This lets fans see their big league team’s prospects in action. There are 120 teams in the minors, so there’s no shortage of action throughout the country. This can be a more family-friendly option with lots of give-away and promotion nights and is a great way to get kids into the sport without breaking the bank on the big market teams.
In case you’re craving in-person mixed with a beach vacation, Cape Cod Baseball League has seen its share of MLB prospects rise through the ranks before being drafted into the bigs. The list of Cape Cod alumni that made it to the show includes Hall of Famers Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell, as well as former stars like Nomar Garciaparra, Thurman Munson, Jason Varitek, and Barry Zito. Current players (including quite a few All-Stars) include Matt Barnes, Brandon Belt, Charlie Blackmon, Ryan Braun, Mike Clevinger, Todd Frazier, Ian Happ, Chris Sale, Kolten Wong, and Brandon Woodruff. There’s no shortage of talent in a league that tends to be ignored by the larger market.
The KBO sees a lot of talent make its way from the MLB to Korea for a few seasons, usually when a free agent can’t seem to find a home with an American team. KBO has strict rules in place regarding how many non-Korean players are allowed to be on a team at any given time. Players from the KBO who made their way to America include Ji-man Choi, Shin-Soo Choo, Jung-ho Kang, Byung-Hyun Kim, Chan Ho Park, and Hyun-jin Ryu. Bonus: the KBO championship trophy is a giant sword; sure beats a bunch of tiny flags in a circle.
The NPBO is the Japanese baseball league that gave us Ichiro Suzuki, Yu Darvish, Shohei Ohtani, Hideo Nomo, Hideki Matsui, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Koji Uehara to name just a few. Another player, Seiya Suzuki, is poised to set the free-agent market on fire once the lockout ends.