***The following article was written by Brandon Agar, a pitching prospect in the Chicago White Sox system, as a guest of FutureSox. This is part of our ongoing Prospect Perspective series: articles written by the players themselves. Brandon gives us a lens into what a player’s first offseason as a professional ballplayer looks and feels like. We hope this gives our readers a unique view into a player’s perspective on life in the minors.***
The Offseason – Grinding for your next opportunity
By Brandon Agar
The offseason is arguably the most important of any player’s career in any sport. It is when you prepare your mind and body to go through a grind like no other, a full professional season. This is my first offseason professionally so I can’t speak proficiently on all the challenges I will face moving forward, but hopefully I will be able to capture for you, some of what the majority of professional baseball players go through. Although the following writing may sound uninspired at times or a bit whiny, I want it to be known that there is no greater feeling than chasing after a dream you’ve had for your entire life and I appreciate every opportunity given to me to do that.
Grinding for the next opportunity for me isn’t just about my first bullpen at Spring Training or my first outing in affiliate ball next season, but it is also about laying the groundwork for my future career opportunities and business endeavors. Right now I am juggling three part-time jobs to pay bills, eat well, and set up my future after baseball. Fortunately for me, my three jobs are perfectly timed throughout to day to allow me to work them all with little to no stress.
I currently work for my alma mater, The University of North Georgia, in the university bookstore. That was a job that I held throughout my collegiate years and am lucky enough to continue working here while I train at the school. I am also working with a showcase travel team based out of Georgia called Team Elite. This was a team I played for in high school and now I am helping out with our 15U teams. Lastly, as my Arizona teammates know I consult with an investing firm based out of Georgia called MDD Holdings, Inc. where I am the Vice President of Marketing. This is the job that I am using to lay groundwork for my future and try to build up my personal portfolio. We deal with various businesses that seek us out to help get their businesses off the ground. We are opening a restaurant this month in Dahlonega, Georgia called The EndZone, so if anyone is ever in the area you will have to stop by.
(And to the White Sox personnel who may be reading this, I still have plenty of time to train.)
I think the post-baseball (post-professional athlete) situation is the most overlooked area for those that don’t “make it big time”. We spend what people refer to as “important career building years” in the minors, D-League, overseas leagues, or any other semi-pro league and most people aren’t building their own career portfolio. So for the most part, we spend these crucial years doing whatever we can do to make money and chase our dreams without building a future for ourselves simultaneously. While I don’t think anyone would trade chasing their dream for a nine to five job, it is something that a lot of athletes are faced with when they play their last out, take their last snap, or shoot their last shot. Even though we have to make money to support ourselves during the offseason, our main focus is preparing our body and mind for that first week in Arizona or Florida.
Now from what I’ve heard, the offseason mentally is like going through the five stages of grievance. They aren’t the exact same stages, but it is a mental timeline the majority of players go through. There is the initial rest and review period from the season, then we have to refocus on what we want and need to do to prepare ourselves for the season, commit to put in the work you need to in order to make sure you are ready for Spring Training, and then after five months you finally get to get back after it.
A lot of people refer to dedicated minor leaguers that give this opportunity all they have as having “the itch”, and it is probably the truest way to represent what this feels like. “The itch” never leaves you when you think about the opportunity you have and it can take you as far as you let it. One of the toughest things I can see happening towards the middle of this offseason is being away from those teammates, staff, and coaches you spent all that time with and looking forward to seeing and working with them again. Unfortunately, that is just about everyone I was around because the White Sox do a great job of hiring, drafting, or trading for some of the best people in the baseball business. Spring Training has got to be a great time to get to be with those guys you finished up with and seeing those guys that got moved mid-season.
A lot of people ask me how things are going for me, or what have I been up to recently and the best answer I can give them is “just killing time”. Once you get your rest in, 2 – 3 weeks for most guys, the offseason can feel like an eternity. It is like if a kid started preparing his Christmas lists and getting ready for Santa in the middle of July. He is going to be on his best behavior and do everything he needs to do to make sure he has the best Christmas ever and gets everything he wants. That example may not register with some people, but that is what it feels like to me. I am just preparing for my Christmas now hoping it will be a good one.
Being a fifth-year senior free agent sign I am keenly aware of what this Spring Training means to my career, and my dream. I can’t hit any speed bumps along the way and can’t lose focus of what I need to do. I would like to thank the Chicago White Sox and Kevin Burrell (my signing scout) again for the opportunity they have given me. I know how rare it is to be able to chase this dream we all have.
Want to know right away when we publish a new article? Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. Our list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.