Rodriguez, Burl, May Complete Tough Rookie Season in Minors

Life as professional baseball players started on an average note for the only three baseball players who came from Mississippi’s SWAC programs that were drafted in 2015.

Melvin Rodriguez of Jackson State, Earl Burl of Alcorn State and Malik May of Mississippi Valley State each got the call in June to play at the next level but each similarly ended their rookie seasons with average batting.

Rodriquez, who finished the 2015 College Baseball Season as the Player of the year in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, did not find the transition professional baseball to be an easy one… least as a rookie.

Drafted in the 18th Round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Washington Nationals, the 5’10 200 pound infielder spent time as a third baseman, second baseman and designated hitter. Although sufficient on the defensive side, swinging the bat provided a tough challenge.

After, consistently hitting over .400 for the Tigers, the Manti, Puerto Rico native, could only muster up and average of .200 for Auburn; a single A affiliate for the Nationals which is a apart of the New York /Penn League. Rodriguez went to the plate 110 times for the DoubleDays who finished the season in fourth place at 36-38.

Burl, a 6-0, 190 pound outfielder was fourth in runs scored in the SWAC for the Braves which was a key indicator that he has some base running ability. While only batting .216 during his first season in the pro ranks, the New Orleans native did managed to steal nine bases.

Burl, was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 30th round and spent his rookie season with the Vancouver Canadians of the Northwest Single ALeague.

The Blue Jays shared that same interest in Kalik May after a successful campaign at Mississippi Valley. The 6’2, 205 pound outfielder, was 12th in the SWAC in swinging the bat with a .339 average.

As a part of the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays, the former Delta Devil batted .261 through 138 attempts with one homerun. The Alabama native also stole 10 bases for the rookie league affiliate.

The .261 average was by far the most successful of the three local SWAC representatives. However no word has been mention about wear May will participate during the next season.

Overall, each player has left room for improvement but their first season efforts generally speak to the lives of rookie baseball players coming through the minors.

By Sedrick Durr
Jackson Advocate Sport Writer