Minor leagues hold dreams for Flagler men’s baseball players
By Eric Albury | firstname.lastname@example.org
Former pitcher for the Flagler College Saints Jonathan Armold has just completed his first season of Minor League Baseball pitching for the Milwaukee Brewer’s affiliate in the Arizona League.
For him and other rookie minor league players, it has been a year filled with learning and accomplishment.
“I’m trying to see how far I can take this thing,” he said. “This is every kid’s dream.”
Right-handed pitcher Armold has thrown in nine games and 22 innings in his first season. He has a 2.61 earned run average and has recorded 23 strikeouts, walking only eight batters.
“I’m very happy with my first year,” Armold said. “I even got bumped up to advanced rookie level, so that’s something to be proud of.”
Armold, Garrett Bush and John Sgromolo were all selected in June’s 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, marking the first time three players from the school were selected in one draft. Flagler had the most players selected in the draft from the Peach Belt Conference.
Armold went in the 30th Round, Bush, a right-handed pitcher, went in the 24th Round and Sgromolo, a first baseman, was selected in the 37th Round.
For most players transitioning into professional sports, the requirements of high-level play demands a change in pace and commitment to succeed in the minor leagues.
“It’s a huge jump from playing a few games a week with college ball to playing almost every day professionally,” Armold said. “The biggest transition for me was from being a starter [at Flagler] to spending most of my time in the bullpen.”
Sgromolo knew the strains of professional baseball and the kind of adjustments needed to be made.
“I understood the process and knew more or less of what I was signing up for,” Sgromolo said. “The main thing to learn is that playing professional ball is a marathon, not a sprint like in college games.”
Sgromolo is playing as first baseman and designated hitter for the Los Angeles Dodges’ affiliate, also in the Arizona League. For the 16 games he played, Sgromolo is batting at .293 with 17 hits, two doubles, a home run and scored on 11 runs.
With a higher level of play comes a higher level of responsibility in professional sports. Both on and off the field, players are required to have a different persona than the college days.
“You have to be professional about everything,” Armold said. “If you don’t get to play that day, you have to learn to accept it and control what you can.”
Even if these players’ professional career is cut short from the minor leagues, the experience can still put them in a position to continue a career in the sport they love.
“It’s always been my dream to play in the major leagues,” Sgromolo said. “I want to coach if pro ball doesn’t work out. I want to stay involved with the sport.”