A Look at Chinooks in the Minor Leagues
David Masters – Washington Nationals – Hagerstown Suns (A)
David Masters has been relying on his steady glove in the infield for his entire career, but as he begins his third summer of minor league ball, proving he can get the job done at the plate will determine how long he stays in the game. Drafted in the 50th Round of the 2011 MLB Draft by Arizona, baseball scouts had labeled Masters as a whiz in the field, but to strengthen his offensive skills, David chose to attend the University of Arkansas, including a summer contract with the Lakeshore Chinooks in 2012. The Razorbacks’ run to the College World Series limited his opportunities at the plate and shortened his time at Lakeshore to a brief thirteen games in which he hit .279.
Knowing that he still needed to prove he could hit, the Wentzville, MO native changed course by transferring to Central Arizona College, a junior college program that produced professional players in Ian Kinzler and A.J Schlugel. The move paid off as Masters raised his batting average to .284 and posted a .360 on-base percentage. That improvement was enough to entice the Nationals, who selected Masters in the 14th Round of the 2013 draft and projected him as a bottom of the order guy with glove enough to outweigh any shortcomings at the plate.
Masters at bat for the Hagerstown Suns
Masters signed immediately and spent the 2013 playing for the Nationals’ Class A (short season) Auburn Doubledays in the NY-Penn League. As Masters made the jump to minor league baseball, however, he faced the same challenges. He excelled in the field at shortstop, but struggled at the plate with a .183 batting average and a low on-base percentage of .254. Despite those numbers, Masters defensive abilities showed promise enough to provide an opportunity to play with Washington’s full-season Class A team in Hagerstown, MD where he began the 2014 season. After just three weeks and fifteen games in April and batting .229, Masters run was interrupted by injury, requiring the Suns to place him on the disabled list. When finally recovered in July, Masters was reassigned to Auburn for eight games and then returned to finish the season in Hagerstown, exemplifying once again, the ups and downs of minor league life. For the season, Masters played 59 games between Hagerstown and Auburn, batting .195 and totaling 39 hits and 10 RBIs. Like many young players in the minor leagues, Masters is staring at an uphill climb this season. If given a chance out of spring training, he’ll have to prove he can be an offensive threat at the plate, either with improved hitting or through outstanding plate discipline. But as Chinooks GM Dean Rennicke says about him, “David will have to prove he is a multi-dimensional player to advance in his career and like many young players, he has to stay healthy and he must show improvement.”