Former K-State baseball players reflect on canceled minor league season

Then-junior Will Brennan served as the starting pitcher during the Kansas State baseball game against Cowley County on Oct. 4, 2018. (Archive photo by Alex Todd | Collegian Media Group)

Major League Baseball announced in late June that it would move forward and play a 60-game season. However, Minor League Baseball games would be canceled for the entire season. This decision has left many young players unemployed and has forced them to find other ways to generate income.

Will Brennan and Josh Rolette played baseball together at Kansas State for one year before Rolette was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2017. Two years later, the Indians also selected Brennan.

As Wildcats, the two were highly decorated, taking All-Big 12 honors — and for Rolette, All-American honors.

The two found themselves together yet again during 2020 training camp in Arizona, and that’s when they learned that the 2020 MLB season had been suspended indefinitely.

This was a moment both players remembered vividly.

“I remember Will was on the bike, and I was in like the same area,” Rolette said. “We were all just doing some prep work to start our day.”

“It was the day after we played our first game,” Brennan said. “We were watching MLB Network and it just popped up across the screen.”

Then there was a waiting period when players didn’t know if the season they had prepared for was even going to take place.

“I was hoping that we were gonna be able to play; they’d figure something out,” Brennan said. “Then, the country shut down … and it was just like all hope went out the window.”

That’s when reality struck — the former K-State duo found out there would be no baseball played this year for minor league players like themselves.

When the nation shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brennan said he had to get creative in finding ways to work out at home.

“I bought some workout bands, and [I’m] fortunate enough that my grandparents live close by and they had a dumbbell set, so I went over there and grabbed that.”

Now, Brennan has been able to put in work with a group of other minor league players in the Kansas City area, while Rolette is training and giving lessons at a facility in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Rolette has also had the opportunity to spend time with and learn from a fellow catcher and brother-in-law, the Washington Nationals’ Yan Gomes.

Both Rolette and Brennan have tried to maintain a positive mindset, despite their canceled season.

“[I’m] trying to look at this as more of like a positive, to where, taking this year to just kind of hone in on some of the stuff that needs to be worked on, and getting that stuff ironed out so that when we come back it’s like I’m in the best shape of my life and I’m playing the best ball,” Rolette said.

“I just look at it as another off-season,” Brennan said, “and just another way I can develop myself, on and off the field.”

They said they hope that when they do return to playing baseball games next year, they’ll see each other in the dugout.

“I love Will,” Rolette said. “Will is an awesome teammate, awesome guy to be around in the clubhouse, he’s always been that way. Kind of got a little taste of that [in spring training] and it was awesome.”