FORT WAYNE, Ind. — After 46 former Fort Wayne players appeared during Major League Baseball’s 2020 regular season, and 23 reached the postseason, one remains in the hunt for a World Series title. Hunter Renfroe, a 2013 TinCap, is the primary starting right fielder for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Meanwhile, there are other Fort Wayne ties to the 2020 World Series as the Rays take on the Los Angeles Dodgers. Summit City native Kevin Kiermaier is also with Tampa Bay and Zach McKinstry, who grew up in Fort Wayne as well, is on the “taxi squad” for the Dodgers.
Both rosters are full of players who’ve come through the Midwest League and visited Fort Wayne as opponents. Of the 28 players on the Dodgers’ active roster, 21 ascended through the Class A Midwest League, including 12 with their affiliate in Michigan, the Great Lakes Loons. The Rays have 18 players with Midwest League experience—seven of whom once played for their affiliate in Kentucky, the Bowling Green Hot Rods.
Not only do both teams have players and coaches with Midwest League roots, but even umpires Mark Carlson and Chris Guccione came up through the MWL.
As for Renfroe, he hit a 444-foot home run in Game 4 of the World Series, the longest in a Fall Classic contest in three years. Earlier in the postseason, he hit a grand slam in the opening round against the Toronto Blue Jays and added a two-run double, plus a couple of highlight-reel catches, in the American League Championship Series versus the Houston Astros. Back in 2013, as a rookie, he appeared in 23 late-season games for the ’Caps and hit a pair of homers.
“We’re very proud of what Hunter has gone on to accomplish since his time developing at Parkview Field as a TinCap,” said TinCaps President Mike Nutter. “We also join the rest of the Fort Wayne community in being incredibly proud of what Kevin Kiermaier and Zach McKinstry have accomplished. It’s amazing to think about how we’ve seen so many of these guys up close in Fort Wayne and now watch them on the game’s biggest stage.”
Since the inception of Minor League Baseball in Fort Wayne in 1993, there have been 191 former Wizards/TinCaps players to reach the big leagues. Renfroe hopes to join an exclusive club of World Series winners that features Trea Turner (Washington Nationals—2019), Joe Ross (Nationals—2019), Jake Peavy (San Francisco Giants—2014; Boston Red Sox—2013), David Freese (St. Louis Cardinals—2011), and A.J. Pierzynski (Chicago White Sox—2005).
Note: The Wizards rebranded to the TinCaps following the 2008 season.
2020 Los Angeles Dodgers World Series Roster with Midwest League Experience
INF Matt Beaty (Great Lakes Loons, 2015)
RHP Walker Buehler (Great Lakes Loons, 2016)
RHP Dylan Floro (Bowling Green Hot Rods, 2013)
RHP Tony Gonsolin (Great Lakes Loons, 2016)
LHP Victor Gonzalez (Great Lakes Loons, 2015-16, 18)