For Minor Leaguers, help may finally be on the way through crypto

BRAZIL - 2022/03/19: In this photo illustration, a woman holds a smartphone with the Ethereum (ETH) logo displayed on the screen. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BRAZIL - 2022/03/19: In this photo illustration, a woman holds a smartphone with the Ethereum (ETH) logo displayed on the screen. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

New York Yankees rookie prospect Evan Voliva didn’t even think he would make it this far. He wasn’t like the other minor leaguers who had the blue-chip signs of a budding prospect. No blistering velocity. No wipeout pitch that would generate buzz on Pitching Ninja. After the first 100 names are called every year in the draft, no scouts are drooling over their ability and, more importantly, there is no massive signing bonus waiting for them.

“Honestly if it weren’t for Tommy John the first time, I don’t think I would have gotten drafted,” Voliva said in an exclusive chat. “It wasn’t until my redshirt senior season that I started seeing 93s, 94s, and a few 95’s. I thought up until that point that that year in college was my last year playing baseball.”

The cleats were staying on, but now there was a new problem … money.

“I thought you just go there and play baseball,” Voliva said. “I didn’t know anything about the business aspect of it, the biggest adjustment was going there and you’re completely on your own.”

In the offseason, Voliva had to work water damage for a contractor just to make ends meet. He didn’t exactly feel like a professional athlete.

The Brady Singer-esque moment of paying their parents’ debt off would have to wait.

The stories are out there. Minor leaguers lack housing and food. Reporting from ESPN’s Joon Lee last year noted that conditions were so bad that there was a “mental health crisis.” Heck, there’s even a Twitter account exclusively documenting the struggles of being a minor leaguer (shoutout @MiLBAdvocates).

But for Voliva and other minor leaguers, some relief may be on the way through an unlikely source.

A new project, Durham Inu, is a cryptocurrency that allows fans and players to buy the $RBI token, which then allows for the Durham Inu team to provide monetary compensation to minor leaguers across all levels, on a need-based case by case basis through an application process.

David, who spoke in an exclusive interview only on the condition his last name wouldn’t be used, said, “I think we’re going to be filling an important and major role in improving and changing the landscape of minor league baseball. In doing so, we will have a major impact in improving the MLB product because everyone who plays in the majors has to go through the minors.”

To David, it’s pretty obvious that people chasing their childhood dreams should be focused on one thing and one thing only: getting better at baseball.

“What we’re going to be doing is helping to directly support minor leaguers … so that they can focus on honing their craft,” David said. “They can focus on their training without having to go work in their off-hours. They shouldn’t be showing up to a training workout after having worked eight hours and they’re so exhausted they can’t get the full effect from their training.

Voliva’s situation, like a growing number of pitchers, got a little more precarious when he underwent Tommy John surgery for the second time this spring.

“I would do (my baseball stuff) at the end of the day after I’d worked, so I was doing my baseball stuff from 7-10 (at night) after I went to work,” Voliva said. “In my mind, at the time I thought I was working hard at baseball … it didn’t hit me until I got on Instagram and saw people I had played with at the gym the whole day.”

David points out that it’s these kinds of conditions that have presumably led many minor leaguers to hang it up prematurely.

“They just have to deal with it. Some very talented people maybe could have been a Hall of Famer,” David said. “Someone our kids and grandkids could have known, he may have been washed out of the minors because he didn’t have the financial wherewithal to chase his dream.”

Crypto has become more mainstream over the past few years but, for many, it still seems like a complicated concept. So how does it work exactly?

Durham Inu models itself after Marshall Rogan Inu, a similar token that supports professional fighters. Think of it as crypto with a social cause. Similar to an investment in the traditional stock market, holders buy the token in hopes that the token will go up in value over time and every time you buy or sell the token, the holder pays a small fee.

“The coin lives on the Ethereum blockchain and you can convert your Ethereum to the $RBI token,” David said. “The way the project works is there is a modest tax on each transaction … that tax goes to the treasury and our treasury grows.“

David views it as a better way to give direct assistance to minor leaguers than your traditional online platforms. It also allows the holder to make a financial return themselves, something websites like GoFundMe or Fundly don’t allow.

“We view it as an evolution of crowdfunding via crypto … You are supporting a social cause and by everyone buying the token, the project has a robust treasury … It’s not just a donation for charity,” David said. “You are buying a cryptocurrency token similar to buying equity on the Nasdaq where you hope that equity goes up in value over time and you can make a financial return.”

Wherever the project goes from here, Voliva is already thankful for the money that he has received. Given the current conditions as well as a worldwide pandemic that canceled an entire season, there has been no shortage of hardships tossed minor leaguers’ way.

“The money has already helped so much because I’m not at the spring training facility, I still have rent to pay, food, and gas, now that that’s $5 a gallon,” Voliva said.

Where does the project go from here? David is excited at the success so far and the endless possibilities across many sectors that Durham Inu could partner with. Forty-five players have already been helped to the tune of $50,000. There are plans in place to partner with Adopt A Minor Leaguer and More than Baseball to sponsor an additional 100 players. There are also plans to make this project more than a Telegram chat with crypto enthusiasts who are passionate about helping improve the minor leagues.

“We’re working on things such as (the ability for) people to buy $RBI straight from our website with a credit card or Apple Pay,” David said. “We want to move into things like sponsoring training and not just giving direct monetary stipends. We’re interested in potential brand partnerships where we can get healthy foods into clubhouses. We’d like to purchase gloves, bats, and cleats (for minor leaguers).”

The problem has been clear for a while. Minor leaguers are not compensated properly. For the first time in a while though, a solution might be coming into the picture.

Next. Examining early spring training results for some Baltimore prospects. dark

To learn more about Durham Inu, Join the Durham Inu Telegram Chat or Follow Durham Inu on Twitter.

Note: This article is not meant to be taken as financial advice. Personal research is recommended before making any investment.