Just after the 2017-18 international signing period began, we broke the news that the Red Sox had signed a new Aruban shortshop, Brandon Rincones [link]. Mike Andrews of SoxProspects reported in November that Rincónes had been released in January 2020, in a move that had not been reported. We can now confirm that the Aruban’s baseball career has not ended, though, as Rincónes is playing this year for Odessa Junior College in Texas.
Rincónes suited up for 73 games over the 2018-19 seasons for Boston’s Dominican Summer League team, slasshing .247/.350/.288. His plate discipline was a strength, with 30 BB and 32 K in 266 plate appearances. Rincónes played mostly 2B, where he posted a .975 fielding percentage (though minor league fielding stats are notoriously unreliable).
Although his batting line appears fairly unexciting, in the light-slugging DSL, Rincónes posted a 95 wRC+, meaning he created only five percent fewer runs than the average player over those two seasons. Considering he was quite unlucky (.289 BABIP; 29% less than league average .314), it would appear Rinónes was roughly an average player, no mean feat.
You may be wondering how a former professional athlete could be allowed to play university baseball. According to the NJCAA 2019-20 Eligibility Pamphlet [link], Section 4 – Amateur Status of NJCAA Student-Athletes, Article A4:
An athlete loses amateur status and shall be deemed permanently ineligible for competition in an NJCAA certified sport if any of the following criteria applies once the athlete reaches their 19th birthday or once they enroll in college as a full-time student, whichever comes first
The nine clauses of Article A4 are primarily concerned with what an athlete might do while already enrolled in a JuCo, but Clause I specifies, “Competes professionally or contracts to compete professionally in a sport regardless of its format“.
Rincónes was born on Oct. 1, 2000, meaning he last competed in a professional game 39 days before his nineteenth birthday. As a result, Rincónes was, in fact, eligible for JuCo competition, without any loophole or special consideration, making the Netherlands-eligible infielder a great signing for Odessa.
Odessa has recruited heavily in Europe and the Caribbean in the last five years and currently features a second Aruban, Lenin Ashby, plus two Italians, Giulio Monello and Daniel Monti, and the Netherlands’ Dylan Farley. In theory, the team’s starting lineup could have find European national teamer, though the Aruban duo have never suited up for a Dutch youth team.
Rincónes is off to a slow start for the Wranglers through 12 games, slashing .171/.237/.286, though he ripped his first home run outside of Aruba on Mar. 9 and had a three-hit game on Feb. 5. He has appeared regularly at DH, otherwise playing 3B and a little SS, positions he played on a few occasions as a pro. He received the weekend of Mar. 21-22 off.
Photo of Rincones is copyright Baseball Aruba.