Former Reds player signs with MLB affiliate

Courtesy photo
Jakob Shuler, who played for the Jasper Reds this summer, signed a contract Monday to play baseball for the Lexington (Ky.) Legends, an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

The Jasper Reds concluded their 2020 season on Sunday, but there is still more baseball to be played for one player who saw action with them this summer.

Jakob Shuler signed a contract on Monday to play baseball for the Lexington (Ky.) Legends. The Legends are a Class A affiliate in the Kansas City Royals organization, but there is no Minor League Baseball due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and, therefore, the Owensboro native will play for the Legends as an independent team this year.

“I was out of a job, pretty much,” Shuler said. “So, for this to pop up, so close to me, is like something that I can’t pass up.”

Shuler successfully tried out for the Legends this past week, and though he’s never been drafted, he sees it as an excellent opportunity to get a contract with an affiliated team. He’ll be playing with different minor leaguers who are currently out of a job, such as Drew Ellis of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, a Jeffersonville graduate. It would be a dream for Shuler to play even one season of minor league ball.

He helped the Reds go 9-0 this season, batting .231 and drawing 12 walks. A friend he played summer collegiate ball with told him about the tryout, and he saw the at-bats that he got with the Reds as preparation for the tryout.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do, and I would probably say if this never popped up, I would’ve probably retired, because bills got to be paid,” he said. “I guess they kept me in shape, kept me playing, so I didn’t just sit on the couch and watch baseball.”

Shuler previously played independent ball with the Trinidad (Colo.) Triggers of the Pecos League in 2019, and he showed what he was capable of at the dish. He batted .308, clubbing 10 home runs and driving in 36 men. He had a .455 on-base percentage, and only had four more strikeouts (45) than he did walks (41).

He wasn’t even sure that he wanted to go to the tryout, because he would be going against players who range from Triple-A down to A ball. Shuler called the decision to try out a last-minute whim. He wasn’t going to go, until he told his father, Jason, “Let’s just go,” and he had something to prove while trying out.

“Anybody can hit the ball down the line 310 feet and show you that you can hit the ball down the line,” Jakob said. “My biggest thing was I wanted to go in there and show them that I can hit it dead center over the fence — 410 feet. I hit a couple of balls over dead center at Whitaker Bank Ballpark (the home of the Legends), and I would say that’s what got me.”

Reds business manager Bob Alles thought Jakob was a good defensive catcher for the team this year, and is good with the bat, but just didn’t have enough at-bats on a regular basis. He told The Herald that the Reds are happy for Jakob’s opportunity, and hopes things will work out for him.

“He’s a good, solid player — played the game hard, wanted to win, wanted to be here and I’m glad he’s getting his opportunity,” Alles said.

Jakob will be teammates with Legends center fielder Ben Revere, a free agent outfielder who played for five Major League teams between 2010 and 2017, and Jakob is hoping to take anything he can from somebody like that.

“If they tie their shoes differently, if they put on their pants differently, I’m going to start putting my pants (on) and tying my shoes differently,” he said. “Anything that I can soak in, I’m going to soak in.”




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