Dodgers outfielder Zach Reks is percolating in Triple-A, and because he’s on the 40-man roster he’s just a phone call away from reaching the majors. That’s the focus for now, but on the back burner is an idea he has already put in motion: he’s starting a non-profit coffee company.
He’s not sure yet of the name, or who might join him, or what the final scope of the organization will be. But the germ of the idea was to help minor league players.
“The original aim of the whole project is to help struggling minor league players,” Reks said last week. “I know a lot of minor league players don’t get paid a huge signing bonus, and a lot of people that come from Latin countries don’t have a lot to their name right now. The offseasons can be a real big struggle.”
Minimum salaries in the minor leagues in 2021 rose to $700 per week in Triple-A, $600 per week in Double-A, and $500 weekly in both Class-A levels. Players don’t get paid in spring training (except for a per diem) or the offseason. Minor leaguers not on 40-man rosters aren’t in the MLB Players Association.
Groups like Advocates for Minor Leaguers and More Than Baseball have been fighting for a living wage for minor leaguers, especially considering that even with the raises, the minimum salary in Triple-A comes out to under $15,000 per year.
Last week, Reks received a shipment from Sugar Creek Coffee in North Carolina, the company that will be supplying the coffee for Reks’ eventual non-profit endeavor.
“It’s a pretty exciting moment right now, because I got to make a little bit of the coffee decision, and mix up the flavors a little bit,” Reks said.
He said the first flavor will be called Offseason, which is fitting because Reks plans to focus on baseball during the season. So far, that plan is working.
Reks has reached base in all eight games for Oklahoma City this season, including a seven-game hitting streak. On Friday night, he was 3-for-5 with his second home run of the season. Reks is hitting .333/.371/.576 with eight runs batted in so far thanks to his two homers and two doubles, enough power to glance the other way when noticing he’s striking out in a third of his plate appearances.
Reks is also one of only three healthy Dodgers position players on the 40-man roster who aren’t already on the active roster, along with catcher Keibert Ruiz and new acquisition Travis Blankenhorn, an infielder/outfielder.
Triple-A Oklahoma City
Unfortunately for OKC, Reks drove in the only two runs in a loss to the Sacramento River Cats (Giants). A Reks single drove in Ruiz, who hit his fourth double in four games in Triple-A.
The Drillers consolidated almost all of their offense into the fourth inning, with a four-run rally that stood up to beat the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals). After a one-out walk by Michael Busch, right fielder Donovan Casey singled, then first baseman Ryan Noda doubled them both home to turn a one-run deficit into a 2-1 lead. Left fielder Carlos Rincon followed with a home run on the next pitch for a 4-1 advantage.
Ryan Pepiot struck out seven while allowing one run in four innings in his second straight start. He retired 11 of his 14 batters faced.
High-A Great Lakes
A low-scoring affair turned wild late, but the Loons emerged in a back-and-forth battle to beat the West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers) in 11 innings. Jose Martinez, a non-roster invitee in big league camp during spring training, pitched scoreless ball for the second time in two starts this season, this one 5⅓ innings. It looked like it might hold up for a 1-0 win, until Dillon Dingler took Cole Percival deep with two outs in the ninth.
The teams traded runs in the 10th inning, then Ryan Ward singled home the free runner to start the 11th. Melvin Jimenez, who allowed an unearned run in the 10th, worked around a walk to strike out three in the 11th to close out the win for Great Lakes.
Low-A Rancho Cucamonga
The Quakes fell behind 7-0 after two and a half innings in a blowout loss to the Modesto Nuts (Mariners). Catcher Wladimir Chalo doubled twice and drove in one of Rancho Cucamonga’s two runs on the night.
Kendall Williams pitched four strong innings in relief, holding Modesto to one run from the fifth through eighth innings.
Triple-A: Pitcher Nate Jones was signed to a minor league deal. The 35-year-old right-hander was released by Atlanta on Monday after posting a 3.48 ERA and 8.71 FIP in 12 relief appearances for the Braves this season, with nearly as many unintentional walks (six) as strikeouts (seven) in his 10⅓ innings. Jones allowed a double, single, walk, and a run in his one inning of relief in his OKC debut.
- Sacramento 5, Oklahoma City 2
- Tulsa 4, Northwest Arkansas 2
- Great Lakes 3, West Michigan 2 (11 innings)
- Modesto 8, Rancho Cucamonga 2
- 3:35 p.m. PT: Great Lakes (Clayton Beeter) at West Michigan (Jesus Rodriguez)
- 5:05 p.m.: Oklahoma City (Aaron Wilkerson) vs. Sacramento (Tyler Beede)
- 5:05 p.m.: Tulsa (Gerardo Carrillo) vs. Northwest Arkansas (Stephen Woods Jr.)
- 6:30 p.m.: Rancho Cucamonga (Adolfo Ramirez) vs. Modesto (Sam Carlson)