Posts Tagged ‘New York – Penn League’

Everyone has a story.  Some are simple and predictable, and you know the ending before you finish the prologue.  Others feel more like a Goosebumps book, with every chapter forcing seemingly life altering decisions.

One of my favorite aspects of working in Minor League Baseball is the opportunity to meet and talk to many different types of people and hear their stories.  Fans, boosters, scouts, reporters, families, players and coaches from all over the county and the world come out to Eastwood Field over the summer, and they all have experiences to share.

Throughout the offseason I’m going to interview several former Scrappers in an attempt to give you an insight into their offseason life and tell a little of their story. This week I was lucky enough to speak with 2013 Scrappers first baseman, Nellie Rorriguez.

Nellie Rodriguez looks like a ballplayer.  With his broad shoulders, wide stance and boyish grin when Rodriguez’s bulky 6’2 250 pound frame walks into a room, there is no mistaking that he was born to play baseball.

“I’ve been playing since I was three years old” said Rodriguez.  “Even at that age I had quite a passion and love for the game.”

That passion has fired the New York City native through countless practices, conditioning sessions, workouts and of course, baseball games.

At nineteen, Rodriguez leads a far from typical life.  February through August he wakes up, works out, goes to practice, and then plays baseball.  There are no weekends, there are no vacations, and there are fewer off days then you have fingers.

His life fits in a suitcase because as a baseball player, he can relocate at anytime with only a few hours notice.  Every three to five days he finds himself on a bus to a new town and new hotel.  He travels the country the way many of us wish we could, one ballpark at a time.

Like many kids who go away to college at his age, Rodriguez spends months without seeing his friends and family.  When asked one of the highlights of the summer Nellie didn’t hesitate to answer the Scrappers trip to New York.

“You don’t get to see your family everyday like you do in the offseason.  Being able to see them for a week, seeing my friends and family just pumped me up to play at a higher level and have fun.”

On the above mentioned trip to New York the Scrappers faced McNamara Division rivals the Staten Island Yankees and Brooklyn Cyclones.  The team was one game separated from a twelve game losing streak, but during the six days in New York they took two games a piece from both Staten Island and Brooklyn winning back-to-back series for the first time that season.

A little home cooking and family time did him well and in Rodriguez’s first game back in his home state he went 4 for 5 with a double, two homers and five RBI.  He went on to have four more multi hit games, another homerun and two more doubles giving him a .464 batting average for the two series.  Rodriguez’s performance was noticed by both the Indians and the league garnering him Indians Minor League Player of the Week and New-York Penn League Player of the week honors.  To state it simply, he put on for his city.

When asked about the greatest moment in his career Rodriguez could have answered the series’ in New York, the 2013 New York-Penn League All-Star Game, getting drafted in the 15th Round of the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft, or shattering Manny Ramirez’s high school home run record (both attended George Washington High School in New York City).  Instead, he values his two walk-offs at Eastwood Field.  Still a teenager, Rodriguez demonstrates something most adults struggle with, putting a team’s success over an individual’s stellar performance.

When asked how he plans on spending his down time over the next few months, Rodriguez responded like any average teenager,  “hangout with my friends, go to the movies a lot, go bowling, and just talk about life”.  For those, who are fortunate enough to listen, his story is far from average.

Listen to some of Nellies 2013 Hightlights: https://soundcloud.com/mvscrappers/nellie-rodriguez-highlights

“This is the best thing ever for a ballplayer, just being able to get to this point.  You dream about it. You don’t know if it’s going to happen, but when it happens, it’s a big blessing” ~ Carlos Beltran (MLB.com)

October Baseball.  Are there two better words in the English language?  Maybe “Opening Day” or “Play Ball” but other than that you would be hard pressed to find a better combination of two words that instill the excitement and anticipation that October Baseball does.

This month young Pirates fans experienced the bittersweet post season for the first time.  The city of Boston rallied behind a beard.  St Louis placed their hopes on the shoulders of young rookies that have gone above and beyond every time they have been asked to take the mound.  It is emotionally charged baseball on the biggest stage.

With Game 6 just a few hours away I got to thinking, how many former New York-Penn League players are playing in the World Series?

Any guesses?

Both the Red Sox and the Cardinals have New York Penn League affiliates, so odds are good that a few of the players you’ve seen in the league have made it to the big show.  However, the fact that there are eighteen players currently listed on World Series rosters is incredible.  Six of the eighteen players have been selected to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and these New York-Penn League alumni have combined to win four Golden Gloves, three Silver Sluggers, Comeback Player of the Year Award, American League Rookie of the Year, and a Roberto Clemente Award.

Even more mind-blowing, thirteen former New York-Penn Leaguers comprise over half of St. Louis’ roster and six of those thirteen have played for Batavia (the former St. Louis Cardinals affiliate) in the past five seasons. These players didn’t only play for Red Sox and Cardinals affiliate teams either.  Seven different teams representing half of the New York- Penn League have a former player in the 2013 World Series.

Former New-York Penn League Players in the 2013 World Series

BOSTON RED SOX

Quintin Berry

Ryan Dempster

Felix Doubront

Jacoby Ellsbury

Will Middlebrooks

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Matt Adams

John Axford

Carlos Beltran

Matt Carpenter

Randy Choate

Allen Craig

Tony Cruz

Dan Descalso

Joe Kelly

Pete Kozma

Lance Lynn

Seth Maness

Kevin Siegrist

So how does this all relate to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers?

Most Scrappers are young, so young in fact that many had never seen a Pirates postseason prior to this year.  They are fresh out of college or high school and starving to prove themselves in their first year of Professional Baseball.  The New York-Penn League is a place for them to work out their kinks, refine their skills, and start to develop who they are as a ball player.  Our games may not be as clean and orderly as Major League Baseball (excluding this very bizarre World Series) but that talent is here both on our roster and on the visiting teams’.

Whether it be tonight or tomorrow former New York-Penn Leaguers will be crowned World Series Champions, and as cliché as it may sound, they started right here.

The Mahoning Valley Scrappers start the 2011 season with Fan Fest on Saturday, May 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Eastwood Field. This event kicks off individual tickets sales and season ticket package pick-up. Fans are able to enjoy $1 hot dogs, soft drinks, and beer, and take advantage of merchandise specials in the team store. Additionally, the team invites fans to participate in an open batting practice from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. while games, inflatables and face painting will be provided for children’s entertainment.

The Scrappers are also looking for performers. Open auditions for National Anthem singers occur from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.

This season the Scrappers are reducing the price of general admission tickets to only $5, making Scrappers baseball the most affordable entertainment value in the Mahoning Valley.

For more information, contact the Scrappers front office at (330) 505-0000 or visit mvscrappers.com.

Why purchase Scrappers season tickets? Here are a few reasons:

1. Guaranteed seats to all 38 Scrappers home games.
2. Exclusive gift
3. Benefit coupons
4. Guaranteed giveaways for selected games
5. Access to VIP Gate, which opens 15 minutes earlier than the main gate
6. Pre-season Meet-The-Team party
7. Free Scrappers media guide
8. Season wrap-up party
9. Unused ticket exchange program
10. Recognition in the 2011 souvenir game program
11. Nightly stat sheets and game notes
12. Special group outing discounts
13. Free box seat ticket vouchers
14. Extra VIP events featuring Q&A sessions with special guests

Don’t forget that season tickets are the perfect way to entertain clients/friends/family!

ALL NEW FOR 2011:  If you sign up for a 3-year season ticket package, you will receive a FREE SUITE RENTAL EACH SEASON ($500 added value). The suite rental includes 12 tickets and 3 parking passes. This can be used for any Sunday – Thursday game (one per account).

Full season ticket packages are priced at $304 per seat with payment plans available. Don’t forget about our Early Bird Discounts! These discounts are available if tickets are paid in full by December 31, 2010.

For more information, please call 330-505-000.