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Brandon Kintzler last of 40th-round success stories

When Major League Baseball shortened this week’s player draft to five rounds from its usual 40 to save a few dollars after begin thrown a curveball by the coronavirus, chances were good that Brandon Kintzler would have something to say about it.

The Palo Verde High product is widely considered the most successful 40th-round pick in baseball history. He was actually picked in the last round twice — by the Yankees in 2003 and the Padres in 2004 — en route to defying the odds to not only pitch in the majors but play in the 2017 All-Star Game as a representative of the Minnesota Twins.

“It would make it extremely tough,” Kintzler said from his home near Las Vegas Ballpark on Friday about youngsters trying to emulate him as free agents if MLB follows through on halving the draft to 20 rounds starting in 2021.

“A lot of guys won’t be getting seen (in the low minors). They’ll have to go the independent ball route, and independent ball is going to be flooded. There aren’t going to be a lot of jobs. And now they’re going to cut levels in the minor leagues (contraction is on the agenda for 2021), and they’re going to cut the draft.

“It’s going to be tough for guys to get a break.”

Kintzler signed with the Miami Marlins during the offseason after an outstanding 2019 season — his 10th in the big leagues after two independent league detours — coming out of the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen. He said as dubious as it might sound, being drafted in the 40th round twice is much preferred to not being drafted at all.

“You’re OK with (the 40th round) as long as somebody gives you the opportunity,” said the guileful 35-year-old sinkerballer who saved 28 games for the Twins in 2017 and pitched a perfect inning of relief in the AL’s 2-1 All-Star victory at Marlins Park. “Now you’re hoping that somebody even notices you and offers you a minor league free-agent job.

“It’s a shame the draft’s getting cut. The chances of getting drafted are very slim now. That’s not baseball, man. The underdog story’s not going to be there anymore.”

Around the horn

— The display of Confederate flags during NASCAR events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been virtually nonexistent in recent years, and LVMS president Chris Powell said he had not received a single call protesting NASCAR’s decision to ban flying the flags effective immediately.

“Las Vegas Motor Speedway supports NASCAR’s prohibition of Confederate flags,” Powell said. “So many people see the flag as a symbol of divisiveness, and we want everyone to feel welcome at our events.”

— Since carrying a 2-0 shutout into the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series and failing to close out the Kansas City Royals, injury prone Matt Harvey — once the ace of a New York Mets’ staff that featured a veritable deck of them — has pitched for the Reds, Angels and the minor league Salt Lake Bees in attempts to regain his mojo.

When last seen on the diamond, he was sporting a funky logo on his cap. Harvey appeared in five games for the Aviators late last season during a short-lived bid to resuscitate his career with the parent Oakland A’s.

At 31 and apparently having exhausted his options, the right-hander formerly known as The Dark Knight is now trying to catch on with a team in Japan or Korea to show he can still get guys out.

— Mark Canha, another major leaguer who had a 2019 cameo with the Aviators, told Yahoo Sports he regretted not taking a knee in support of Black Lives Matter, Colin Kaepernick and former A’s teammate Bruce Maxwell, the only MLB player to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem in 2017.

“Every part of me was telling me I need to be connected to this,” said Canha, who hit 26 homers for the A’s last season and went 1 for 8 in two games for the Aviators.

Canha was photographed with his hand on Maxwell’s shoulder. He said he still doesn’t know where MLB stands on such protests.


Wednesday’s column about the passing of longtime Las Vegan Jimmy Fryatt, famous for scoring a soccer goal four seconds after kickoff during a pro game in England during the 1960s, prompted inquiries about whether it was even possible to find the back of the net that quickly.

“I blew my whistle for the start and still had my stopwatch in my hand when the ball entered the net,” Bob Simons, the referee who presided over Fryatt’s lickity-splitter, was quoted as saying in a London Telegraph story after Shane Long tallied in 7.69 seconds for Southampton (where Fryatt was born) during a 2019 English Premier League game.

“The scoring time is exactly four seconds – no question of it.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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