Where are they now? The journey from the Pine Belt to the Major - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Where are they now? The journey from the Pine Belt to the Major Leagues

Ti'Quan Forbes training in Columbia/ Photo source: WDAM Ti'Quan Forbes training in Columbia/ Photo source: WDAM
Anthony Alford/Photo source: WDAM Anthony Alford/Photo source: WDAM
Lane Ratliff/Photo source: WDAM Lane Ratliff/Photo source: WDAM

The life of a minor league baseball player can be tough.

Just ask former Southern Miss pitcher, now Toronto Blue Jay, Scott Copeland.

“The minor leagues are definitely a struggle, especially the first couple of years," Copeland said. "It's definitely a grind. Paychecks aren't very big, bus rides suck, club houses, fields are not very nice. You've just got to find a way to physically and mentally get through it and get on to the next level.”

Getting to the next level is exactly what a few Pine Belt baseball players who are currently in the minor leagues are trying to do, but it is not as glamorous as many people may think.

Former Stone County baseball player D.J. Davis was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round (17th overall), and said the long trips and bus rides, while having to play games in between, can be grueling.

“It's hard when you've got a 14 hour bus ride, and then you've got to kick up the next day early in the morning," Davis said. "But as you keep going through the process you get used to it.”

Another tough part about trying to climb the ladder to the majors is transitioning from playing a few games a week in high school or college to playing every day for months in a row.

“Playing every day, I didn't know what to expect from that. It really is a grind when you're playing seven days a week, 142 games a year. That's really a grind,” said Anthony Alford, third round pick by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012 and currently rated as the organization’s top prospect by Baseball America.

Former Southern Miss outfielder Mason Robbins, who was drafted in the 25th round by the Chicago White Sox in 2014, said, “You've just got to be ready to play every day. College, you know, you're playing three or four days a week, and pro ball you're playing every day and you've just got to get used to that mentality of playing every day.”

Many of the players interviewed for this piece said his experience in the Minor Leagues has been great so far, especially coming from small towns around the Pine Belt and being able to travel the country, and even the world, doing what they love.

“You come from Purvis and then you go to Jones, which is 30 minutes down the road, and all of a sudden, I'm halfway across the nation,"  said Lane Ratliff, a sixth round pick by the Seattle Mariners in 2014 out of Jones County Junior College. "It's a shock a little bit, but I mean you adapt to it. It's just fun man. That's all I can say. It's all fun.”

Ti’Quan Forbes, who was drafted in the second round by the Texas Rangers out of Columbia High School added, “You've got to grow up quick being away from home so long. I wasn’t but 17 at the time (he was drafted), so I grew up real quick. I had a good time, but you learn a lot especially with different professional baseball athletes some older some younger but you know it's fun.”

A few of these players have already left for spring training, and the others will head to their respective teams’ training facilities soon.

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