With no sports to watch, I turned to MLB The Show 20 to fill the void of Northwestern sports. I took to the game’s career mode, Road to the Show, and simulated the careers of Northwestern’s three players drafted last year: Jack Dunn, Alex Erro and Nick Paciorek. Road to the Show begins with player creation and a draft showcase, and it ultimately leads to the player starting out in Double-A (AA) for the 2020 season. A player’s individual attributes, such as contact and fielding ability, can be increased through gameplay and mini-games.
Here’s how the first three years of Erro’s career played out:
Erro has the potential to be a phenomenal ball player. The fact that he is a small ball switch hitter with a lot of speed and can play anywhere in the infield gave me Brian Roberts-like aspirations for Floridian’s career. In the showcase, he struggled to hit during drills but turned it around in the field, going 3-for-8 with a double, two RBIs, a run and a walk in two games. Erro was drafted by the Red Sox in the 17th round — just as he was in the actual 2019 MLB draft—and was assigned to Boston’s Double-A affiliate, the Portland Sea Dogs.
Erro struggled early in the season, whiffing on most off-speed pitches that came his way. However, he played well in the field, and with depth needed at first base, management shifted him across the diamond. After hitting .150 while playing the hot corner, Erro found his swagger fielding at first and raised his average to .255 by the All-Star break. His on-base percentage of .307 and 21 RBI weren’t good enough to earn him a spot on the team, but the Miami native was trending upward.
The Rockies noticed Erro’s improvement and made a move to add him at the break. Still riding hot, he became the starting third baseman for the Hartford Yard Goats, the Rockies’ Double-A affiliate. He cooled off a bit and ended the season with two homers, 30 RBIs and an average of .246.
His season wasn’t great, but it was good enough to get him another deal. Erro accepted the Rockies one-year, $56,000 offer to be a AA-level starter.
Erro managed to recapture the magic he found in the middle of the previous season. He batted .312 with 19 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .377 through the first half of the year. Although his performance was impressive, it wasn’t enough to land him a spot on the AA All-Star squad.
He stayed the course in the second half of the season, finishing with 25 RBIs, one home run and a .312 average. His performance earned him a raise: Erro signed a one-year, $70,000 contract to stay at the AA level with the Rockies.
Erro hit .276 in the season’s first 11 games before going down with a bruised foot. After missing four games, he rebounded well and raised his average to .388 through 60 games. However, a leg strain caused him to sit out another 10 games with. Despite the setback, he entered the All-Star break hitting .359 with 11 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .458. Although he saw the ball well, the NU grad failed to make the All-Star team for the third year in a row.
However, his performance began to attraction attention, and at the beginning of August the Toronto Blue Jays acquired him for their Double-A affiliate, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. He cooled down a bit as he adjusted to his new team and ended the season hitting an impressive .327 with 15 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .412.
It took three seasons, but Erro finally got a shot at moving up. He took a one-year, $86,000 deal to start for the Buffalo Bisons, the Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate. Minor league baseball players can endure a long and difficult process, but with enough talent and patience, a no-name can develop his way onto a major league roster spot. Although it took a while in the The Show, Erro began to see success and is starting his path to the majors.