That old axiom of one man’s misfortune is another man’s gain will be on display tomorrow night in Houston as Mike Minor makes his Major League Debut for the Braves, filling in the injured Kris Medlin. Minor, the top left handed pitching prospect in the Braves farm system, was a 2009 first round draft pick (7th overall) –a pick which was panned by many scouts and pundits. I, for one, was thrilled with the pick. Left handed starters are somewhat of an endangered species in the Atlanta organization, and Minor was a very polished kid coming out of Vanderbilt-where he was a teammate of former #1 overall pick David Price. Minor struggled somewhat at Double-A Mississippi this year with an inconsistent curveball and often found himself with poor defense behind him; never the less, he racked up 109 strikeouts in 87 innings. After his recall to AAA Gwinnett, Mike went 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA in 33.1 IP, along with a 0.930 WHIP, and a 3.08 SO/BB (37K and 12 BB).
The debut for the lefty got me to thinking of other Major Leaguers with the surname of Minor, and here’s what I found listed at baseballreference.com:
A sixth round pick of the Pirates in 1988, Blas made his MLB debut on July 28, 1992 against the Cubbies. Pitching the 5th and 6th innings, this Minor gave up 3 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 0 BB, and 0 K. That outing would be the only major league game Blas pitched in during the ’92 season. He would go on to pitch five more seasons in the majors, his career ending after the 1997 season.
Raise your hand if you remember THIS card! The 1998 Bowman card of Ryan Minor was a pretty hot commodity back when it was issued. Minor was a 33rd round pick out of the University of Oklahoma in 1996 by the Orioles, and was the man who was going to replace the Legend, Cal Ripken Jr. In fact, Minor DID replace Ripken at the end of 1998. Well, he is the one who started for Ripken when Cal took himself out of the starting lineup at the end of the season, ending his consecutive games played streak. Collectors and Prospectors were scrambling to pick up the Bowman, Bowman’s Best, and Bowman Chrome cards of Minor after he hit .307 & smoked 24 homers in Class A Sally league in 1997. Ryan made his major league debut against the Angels September 13, 1998, singling in his only at-bat. After his September call-up, where he went 6-14 (.429) in 9 games, there was an even greater interest in his cardboard. It didn’t take long for interest in his cards to wane, though. 1999 found Ryan beginning at AAA Rochester (his first season in AAA), where he hit .256 with 21 HR, 67 RBI, and sported only a .325 OBP. It was enough to warrant a call-up to Baltimore for 46 games, however, in which he hit only .194 in 133 plate appearances, with 3 homers, a .241 OBP, .323 slugging, and 43 strikeouts in only 124 at-bats. 2000 would be even worse for Minor, who in 84 at-bats for the O’s would only hit .131, with 0 homers, 1 extra base hit (a double), .170 OBP, and 20 strikeouts. The Orioles would trade Minor in the 2000 offseason to the Montreal Expos, where he would spend part of the 2001 season.
Keeping it in the family, Ryan had a twin brother named Damon- who at 6-7 and 230 lbs was just as much a menacing presence as his brother was. Damon, like his brother, went to school at the University of Oklahoma, and was also picked in the 1996 draft (12th round by the Giants). Damon proved himself to be a better hitter than his twin, and displayed more power as well. His success came in the minors, where in 10 seasons he hit 182 homers, while batting .276 with a pretty decent .371 OBP and .869 OPS. While his brother appeared to be the guy who would replace a legend, Damon looked like he would be a legend. Damon’s first shot at major league pitching came with the Giants in 2000, when he made his debut against the Cubbies (just a Blas Minor did!) on September 2. In that debut, Damon struck out in his only at-bat. He would go 0 for his first three, but then hit 3 homers in his next six at-bats, finishing his first season with some eye-popping numbers: 4-9, 3 homers, 6 RBI, and only 1K. Minor spent most of 2001 in the minors, but did manage to get 45 AB’s in San Francisco. 2002 was his only extended stay in the majors, when he hit .237 with 10 homers in 173 at-bats
Hopefully Minor 4.0 will have a much longer and more successful career than the aforementioned Minor's did. He has had 120.1 innings in the minors this year, so I can't imagine him getting many more in Atlanta this season. However, with the inconsistancies of Derek Lowe, and with him not getting any younger, there may be a spot in the rotation next year. Good luck to you in your debut, Mike!