The path to reaching a Major League Baseball team is fluid for players working their way through the minor leagues.
Players are constantly on the move and thinking about where they have to live next.
Midland RockHounds outfielder Jake Suddleson experienced that recently after being assigned to team from Class-A Lansing Lugnuts.
The Harvard graduate joined the RockHounds on June 8, right when the team was starting a six-game road series against the San Antonio Missions.
“This is my first pro season, so I’m just getting thrown into it really quick,” Suddleson said. “It’s just the way it goes, so I’m just trying to adapt as fast as possible.”
Despite joining the team in the middle of the series, Suddleson made a quick impact through nine games by hitting in three home runs and driving in six runs against the Missions and Amarillo Sod Poodles.
Suddleson is looking to make the most of his time in the Double-A ranks as he eyes a potential move to Triple-A Las Vegas and eventually to the Oakland Athletics.
RockHounds catcher JJ Schwarz has more experience moving through the minor league system after starting his professional career with the A’s rookie affiliate in the Arizona League.
He has also played for other minor league teams like the Beloit Snappers and Stockton Ports, former affiliate teams before Major League Baseball overhauled the minor league system in the offseason.
Like Suddleson, Schwarz didn’t know much about Midland before arriving.
The only time Schwarz had been in Texas was on a trip to Texas A&M when he played for the University of Florida.
“I would imagine it’s pretty tough to come while the team is on the road,” Schwarz said. “It’s a lot easier to get settled in the clubhouse when you’re at home. You can get a hotel and start looking for a place to live. On the road it’s a little different.”
Being from California and playing collegiately at Harvard, Suddleson said that he only knew that Midland was a big oil town.
He did get a taste of what it’s like to move around different cities over the summer, playing in summer collegiate teams such as the Walla Walla Sweets, New Bedford Bay Sox and Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.
He felt that transitioning between summer ball and college gave him more time to prepare for what he’s faced in the minor leagues so far.
“I don’t know if there’s anything that can really prepare you for it until you do it for the first time,” Suddleson said.
With all the uncertainty that comes with living in a new city, Suddleson knows he can count on a tight knit locker room to make him feel welcome.
RockHounds manager Bobby Crosby said Suddleson has fit in well with his new teammates.
“Everyone’s pretty loose in the clubhouse, we have a great clubhouse atmosphere,” Crosby said. “He has fit in great.”
The manager believes his team’s atmosphere isn’t very different from those established with other minor league or college clubs.
Suddleson had a short period of time to get acclimated to Midland as the team played a six-game series against the Wichita Wind Surge.
The team returns for another 12-game road trip beginning Tuesday at Frisco.
Most players in the Oakland farm system spend time with each other when they gather for Spring Training in March.
First impressions mean a lot but they establish a stronger connection as the season moves forward.
“Knowing the guys from Spring Training, we’re happy for them when they get called up,” Schwarz said. “Everyone wants what’s best for each other.”
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