I recently had a chance to watch Time in the Minors, an independently produced documentary by Tony Okun. The film follows two players, Tony Schrager and Cleveland's (or maybe Akron's) John Drennen through the 2006 minor league season. Schrager, originally a 6th round pick out of Stanford in 1998, chose to end his professional baseball career after the 2006 season. Drennen was picked by the Indians with the 33rd overall in 2005 and has hit a significant developmental wall at Akron, now having logged over 200 games there with an OPS under 800.
The film is enjoyable if not terribly surprising. We learn that the players are all hoping to have a chance in the majors. We learn that Schrager really believes he has the stuff to play up top, and his training buddy Cody Ross, at the time approaching minor league journeyman status himself, agrees. We learn that now long-departed John Farrell and other Indians front office guys interviewed for the film think highly of Drennen and, when asked to elaborate on this, speak in vague terms regarding his "character" and potential "impact." Okun follows the players through the season more or less sequentially, so we see Drennen move from A to high A and we see Schrager move from Independent ball into two different levels of the Marlins system.
I don't envy documentarians. Their relative success is often predicated on factors far beyond their control. If Schrager had made the big leagues in 2006, which wouldn't have been all that incredible, then I'm sure this documentary would be more emotionally compelling and probably have reached a larger audience. Similarly, if Drennen had kept his foot on the gas after he left Lake County and was now in Cleveland, working to popularize his incessant, monotone surfer lingo, then this documentary would be cool and exciting in wholly new ways. Imagine if instead of Drennen, Okun had followed Colby Rasmus, picked five slots ahead of John.
Alas, those things didn't happen and what we're left with is a well-made, highly watchable documentary on a likable, vanilla career-minor-leaguer and a nice enough, immature first-rounder who will likely never pan out (but who did homer off Roger Clemens). I'd recommend the documentary to any Indians fan who has a chance to watch it-you'll see a bit of the facilities, understand a tad more about how our minor leaguers live, and also get to see Nick Weglarz briefly. Perhaps it's appropriate that the film focuses on guys who either didn't, or likely won't, ever get a shot in the bigs: that's what the minors are about, after all.
A trailer is available on the film's website, where you can also order the DVD if you're so inclined.