For now, the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball is still scheduled to begin its 2020 season on its original opening day, but the league is monitoring the situation in regards to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The American Association of Independent Professional Baseball continues to monitor the COVID-19 virus outbreak and will take all necessary steps to protect our fans, players, umpires, and staffs in the 2020 season,” the league announced in a release.
So until further notice, the 2020 American Association season remains scheduled to begin play on May 19.
American Association league officials will continue to monitor developments and consult with national, regional, and local health and government leaders on how best to keep the league’s communities safe during this time.
“We look forward to safely bringing communities back together to enjoy time at the ballpark this summer,” the league added in its release.
The Cleburne Railroaders, via President and Co-Owner John Junker, also released a statement regarding COVID-19:
“Railroaders fans, first and foremost, I hope you’re doing well and that you and your loved ones are staying healthy. During these difficult times, the Railroaders family is thinking of you all and praying for Johnson County, Texas, and our country. These are unprecedented times that we are dealing with.
“We know things can get tough and we want to do anything we can to help our Railroaders family and community. If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact us at 817-945-8704.
“From the Railroaders family to yours, we wish you good health and well-being.”
Earlier this week, several Railroaders players sent along their well wishes to fans through a video on the club’s social media accounts.
Zach Nehrir: “Hey, Railroader fans. Zach Nehrir here. Just want to let you know all the other players, myself, the staff, the whole organization is thinking of you guys during this time. We’re thinking of your safety and your well-being. We’re praying for you. Hoping everybody is staying safe. We’re still working. We’re looking forward to the season. We can’t wait to see you guys out there. So hopefully it’s sooner rather than later. Be well. See you soon.”
Chase Simpson: “Hey, Railroader fans. My hairdo and I hope you’re doing OK during this difficult time. I want y’all to know I’m thinking about you and that you’re in my prayers. We’ll be able to get through this together. So stay safe, stay at home for now, and we will see you soon.”
Tyler Wilson: “Hey, Railroader fans. We hope you’re staying safe. We miss you. Make sure you’re washing your hands [and] you’re staying home as much as possible. We can’t wait to see you this summer.”
The 2020 season will be the fourth for the Railroaders since their rebirth in 2017. Cleburne is coming off its most successful season — by far — in 2019 when the Railroaders won 57 games, missing out on a playoff berth by virtue of a tiebreaker.
Throughout the spring, the ‘Roaders have built their roster piece by piece for what they hope will be a playoff run in 2020 as numerous players from last year’s team are set to return.
Most recently, Cleburne announced the signing of left-handed pitcher Mason Melotakis, who brings six seasons of professional experience to the club, having pitched at the Triple-A level for parts of two campaigns.
A native of Grapevine, Texas, Melotakis was drafted by the Twins in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of Northwestern State. For his career, the southpaw is 28-12 with a 3.43 ERA in 195 games, 175 of which have come out of the bullpen. In 322.1 innings, Melotakis owns 307 strikeouts to only 122 walks, having allowed 317 hits. He has 11 career saves.
The signing of Melotakis gave the Railroaders 23 players under contract for the 2020 season. American Association clubs may carry up to 28 players during Spring Training, which is still scheduled to begin May 7.
Among those signings include returning all-stars in catcher John Nester, pitcher Jesus Sanchez, infielder Chase Simpson, and outfielder Zach Nehrir. Cleburne also added reigning batting champ Alay Lago to the mix after a trade in January, in addition to bringing back fan favorites such as Blake Grant-Parks, Angel Reyes, and Hunter Clanin.