Josh Prince, a second baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Double-A franchise, is back in affiliated ball after several years with independent teams.
The scene in Bull Durham when Crash Davis (played by Kevin Costner) describes his time in the big leagues is one of the most memorable moments in baseball’s film history. Davis recalls the “21 greatest days” of his life to an eager group of minor leaguers all hoping to one day have their own story. Sadly, most minor-league ballplayers never realize this dream. Sometimes, however, a life gets changed with a single phone call.
Josh Prince got that call in 2013 after starting the season in Triple-A. On April 6th, 2013, he joined the Milwaukee Brewers, suiting up in the clubhouse alongside the likes of Ryan Braun, Khris Davis, and Scooter Gennett.
In his second MLB game, the Brewers were trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-4 in the bottom of the ninth inning. A bright-eyed Prince entered as a pinch-hitter to lead off the inning and promptly smacked a ground-rule double. The hit started a rally that would eventually force extra innings, although the Brewers would eventually fall to Arizona in 11 innings.
Prince hasn’t had another MLB hit since…
He played in a handful of 2013 games after his first hit, mostly as a pinch-runner, but was back in Triple-A by late June. The following year, he spent the entire year in Double-A, punctuated by an outright release from the Brewers. Detroit eventually picked him up but by June of 2015, he was out of affiliated baseball.
Like a lot of ex-MLB players, Prince joined up with an independent league team to continue chasing his dream. Unfortunately, the stay in independent ball lasted a long time — three years, to be exact. Some, you’d imagine, would hang up the cleats in order to make a better wage. Indy ball, when push comes to shove, is a hard place to carve out a living.
Still, Prince pressed on and played 284 games in non-affiliated ball between 2015 and 2017.
Then, rather unexpectedly, something happened in between the 2017 and 2018 baseball seasons: the Arizona Diamondbacks signed him.
Throughout their history, the D-Backs have always been big on second chances — especially with high draft picks. Like Prince, a former third-round pick, Arizona signed former first-rounder Sean Burroughs in 2010 after several years out of affiliated ball. Burroughs worked out, hitting .273 for the division-winning D-Backs in 2011. Seven years later, Prince has an opportunity to make it all the way back to the show.
So far, so good for the 30-year-old Prince. He’s currently tearing it up for Double-A Jackson, hitting .288 with a .378 OBP. Besides his work in the batter’s box, he’s also displayed the one thing that, in my opinion, the Diamondbacks envied: his ability to play anywhere.
In 79 games for the Jackson Generals, Josh Prince has started games at every position besides shortstop, pitcher, and catcher. He is, by all means, Mr. Utility and someone to keep your eye on. But even if he doesn’t make it back to the bigs, life in an MLB farm system isn’t the worst place to be.