Blue Springs High School graduate and Milwaukee Brewers draft pick Caleb Marquez is one of the silent victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He is still as big and strong as ever, and that smile that lights up a room is always on his face, but his dream of being a professional baseball player took a detour recently as he was released by the Brewers in a cost-cutting measure that saw countless minor leaguers tossed aside like a pair of worn out cleats.
“I did get a call from the Brewers – at least I wasn’t released in an email,” said Marquez, who is back in Blue Springs working with youngsters at the 643KC Baseball and Softball Training Center on U.S. 40. “It was a cost-cutting measure, and I realize that. This coronavirus pandemic is creating so many different situations across the country. People are getting sick, some people are dying and millions of people are out of work.”
Marquez is one of them – but he said it won’t last for long.
“I have so many options,” said the former Examiner All-Area catcher who was drafted by the Brewers in the 39th round of the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft. “I’ve talked a lot with my dad, and I have several options – and I’m going to pick the one that’s best for me.”
Those options include playing in the Mexican League, playing with an independent team like the Kansas City T-Bones, or going back to college and playing NCAA Division II ball.
“There is a loophole that would allow me to go back to college, but it would have to be Division II, and that’s fine with me,” said the muscular Marquez, 20, who played the 2018 and 2019 seasons with Milwaukee’s rookie league team in Arizona.
“If I could play a year or two and see what happens – who knows!” he added. “I will promise them I will do everything I can to help their program while I am trying to get back to professional baseball.”
Marquez grins when asked about that night when he finally got the call from the Brewers that he had been selected with the 1,175th overall pick in the 2018 draft.
“It took a while but a lot of dreams came true that night,” Marquez said during a break between workout sessions Tuesday night with Holden, Mo., middle school student Aiden Christian.
It was certainly a dream come true for his father, Jeff.
“I saw his name seconds before they announced it (on the family’s home computer) and I can’t even tell you what I felt – it was an amazing feeling, just amazing,” Jeff said.
“I did not want to see him fail. And by fail, I mean not get drafted. Being drafted was a dream and it’s hard when dreams don’t come true. I was preparing my speech about college and starting school and how he would still get another shot at the draft – and now, I don’t have to worry about that.”
And now, a positive Marquez is working hard to continue that unfulfilled dream of playing in the big leagues.
“It’s still my dream, and it’s going to happen,” Marquez said. “I’m blessed to have great support, I have a strong work ethic and I am going to do everything I can to get back to professional baseball.
“I can’t thank Mick (Simpson, owner of 643KC) to let me come up here and work out, and also to work with his students to make a little money this summer.”
Simpson said having Marquez on his staff is a great recruiting tool for youngsters.
“Everyone knows Caleb and the kids are so excited to work with him,” Simpson said, “and he’s great with the kids. It all came easy for Caleb when he was their age and he really works with them and has a great attitude. We are so lucky to have him.”