Grae Kessinger Coping with Lost Season, Taking Development into His Own Hands
Baseball is the coping mechanism for many baseball players.
The sport runs their lives and sets their schedules. Essentially, a professional baseball player's universe revolves around the baseball calendar. Until there is no calendar.
“The last two months, so much uncertainty. It's tough." said former Ole Miss shortstop Grae Kessinger, now part of the Houston Astros organization. “I had a feeling they’d cancel it all. They had such a hard time getting the majors rolling that it was hard for me to imagine they were going to get the minor leagues rolling in all these different states. I’m just transitioning into sort of an offseason mode I guess."
Now, Grae Kessinger is kind of on his own.
Kessinger, the Astros second round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft out of Ole Miss, played some short league A-ball a year ago before being called up to the Single A affiliate.
After hitting .224/.333/.308 in 50 games of Single A, he had earned himself a spring training invite. That, obviously, never came to fruition.
“It was frustrating," Kessinger said. "I was so excited to have that first full year of pro ball, see what that was like. Because last year, I learned a lot. First half a season, I was still learning how to be a professional. It’s how a day was like, how do you get into your routines? I was excited to have a full year of what to expect and to get into a flow. Now that’s gone.”
Now, still living near the Astros spring training facility in Florida (and actually only miles away from the Orioles 2020 draftee Anthony Servideo out of Ole Miss), Kessinger has had to take his 2020 'season' into his own hands.
At first, he was trying to stay ready, trying to stay in baseball game shape. He has a trainer, working out at the Eric Cressley Sports Performance Center in Florida. For a while, they'd play occasional scrimmages, still hitting and trying to be ready if called upon.
Then that kind of got scrapped. When Kessinger found out he wouldn't be on the Astros extended practice roster for the upcoming season, his outlook shifted. He started lifting weights four days a week and hitting less.
He's not in game shape, but he's trying to get a little bigger. For now, the motivation has to be internal, he explains.
“Who wants it? You have to know yourself. What, for me, do I need to work on? And you have to attack that, because that’s really all you can do," Kessinger said. "One of my big things is I wanted to get stronger in the weight room. I want to really get after it and if I can put on a couple pounds of muscle and continue hitting and working on the fundamentals, I think that would go a long way for me. Since I couldn’t get the live game action, I might as well focus on and get after that.”
Ultimately, he jokes, Grae Kessinger is just hanging out. He's not used to all the free time – you can only spend so many hours a day in the weight room. He's been golfing more – "I'm not terrible" – and 'forcing' Servideo into hitting the links with him down there in Florida.
In reality, Kessinger lost his first full year of pro baseball and he'll never get it back. He's still optimistic for some sort of Arizona Fall League, but even that seems like a long shot to this point.