Greetings noble baseball fans!
I am writing from a nice city called Medford, Oregon. A VERY long way from Pensacola, and even farther from my home in Naples, FL.
I wanted to focus this blog on the topic of what summer ball can mean to different types of players across the country. It will also include an update on how I am doing, and what I feel I’ve been able to learn so far this summer.
So, lets jump right into it!
While I was sitting in the dugout during our game today in Oregon I was thinking about what summer ball was really all about. For me, a opportunity to travel the country and get much needed experience so I can put myself in a better position to help contribute to my team next season. For some, an opportunity to perform in front of scouts to either raise your draft stock, or try to get signed.
When I talk about my experience I have to start with decided the appropriate league to play in. The league I’m playing in this year is the Sacramento Rural League. (http://bit.ly/summerleague) A league like this is mostly comprised of college baseball players that are from the surrounding areas. My team is comprised of players from around the Bay Area in San Francisco. I am able to play against competition that is challenging for me, but still able to compete. At the stage in my development as a pitcher, it is important for me to be in a situation where I can be successful! It wouldn’t make sense for me to travel to a more prestigious league where the main focus is to WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP! I want to be in a league where the main objective is, getting experience! Obviously the main objective is to win each game, but being able to be put into certain situations that will help in the development of a player is key in the type of league I am in.
From a different perspective: The player that is a stud, looking to face the best competition. For a player like this, the goal of summer ball is a little bit different than what I am doing. Most often in a better league, such as, The Cape, The Valley League, The Alaska League, etc., players are there to be seen. It is their opportunity to be in a situation where more people can see them. They are also there to get better, because in my opinion, the more innings you get, the better you will be. But, the main reason for a type of player of this caliber is to see a higher level of competition to prove they can play at the next level.
Now for my first pitching update of the summer!!
I’m playing for a great team called the Walnut Creek Crawdads. I’ve been with the team for over a week now and I’m just starting to open up and be able to be myself. Its funny how no matter where you play the game, baseball players are all the same. The comrade among a team is always the same. The group of guys on this team are funny, and I fit in just fine.
When I first arrived there was a lot of questions about what it was like to win the World Series, and at the time it was still hard to describe. I was put on the mound the first day I arrived, which was after a flight from Pensacola to Atlanta and Atlanta to San Fran. Needless to say, my flight left at 7:30 in the morning, and my 22nd birthday was the night before I left, so I didn’t get a lot of sleep. Anyways, pitched the 9th inning and finished the game allowing 1 run.
I have found a lot more consistency with my slider, which has been a big problem for me throughout the whole development of pitching. My work in the bullpen has been legit! It feels like one more thing that I can check off my list of improvement. It starts in the bullpen, and ends on the field. I have to continue to keep telling myself that if I can do it in the bullpen, I just need to transfer it to the field. I think as a pitcher, that is one of the hardest things to do. It’s always different with a batter in the box. Everything speeds up, and each pitch means something.
In my last outing I was put into a situation like I had never faced before. Bases loaded, no outs, tie ball game….. yikes! I was able to block out the situation, and focused on the hitter. I got the first guy to fly out to shortstop, the second guy flew out to second base, and I had a 2-2 count on the next batter. I had the momentum, and I just needed to execute one more pitch. I hit the batter in the leg, run scored. I was mad at myself, but calmed down before the next pitch. I got the next guy to fly out to 2nd base.
Down by one in the top of the last inning, we got 2 runs, so I had a lead to work with when I went back onto the field. I was thinking about how Shane Waller had been so dominant in these situations, and I give him so much credit for being as dominant as he was all year.
A new situation for me, pitching with a 1 run lead to win a game. I walked the first guy on 4 pitches…. UGHHHH! So frustrating for a coach, and team. It was also my first opportunity to experience and umpire “squeezing” the zone. I am as accountable as any person that plays the game, but the strike zone from the first inning I pitched to the second was a lot smaller. There were 3 good pitches that were closer to being strikes than balls, but the umpire called them balls. I guess its just the way the cookie crumbles some times.. I eventually walked the 2nd batter. Our coach made a pitching change, and I was able to reflect on my outing.
I am throwing the ball well in my opinion, I am around the plate with my pitches, and I feel comfortable on the mound in a tight situation. The problem for me right now, which has been a problem since I started pitching is I’m killing myself by giving free bases. The runners that have scored against me this summer have all gotten on base by being walked or hit. Now its only been 3 runs in 6 innings, but my immediate goal for my next outing is to not hit or walk a batter. I feel great though, and I’ve loving every minute I have out here! Most players work during the summer…. I want to play baseball! I have the rest of my life to work!
Stats so far… (which I DO NOT care about, but some people may be interested in)
4 appearances, 6ip, 4h, 3runs, 3k’s, 5bb, 4hbp, 1 W (which happens to be the first of my career)
I will keep everyone updated soon! Thanks for all your support!
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GO ARGOS…. and CRAWDADS!!!