30 July 2008
It’s On-the-Job Training for First-Year
Players Rowe and Pineda at Wareham
WAREHAM, Mass. -- It can’t be found on the statistics sheet that’s distributed at the gate.
Nor will it be seen on the scoreboard at the end of the night.
But it is there, in the mind of every collegiate player who steps out on one of the 10 baseball diamonds stretching across Cape Cod.
It is the inevitable progression for which the Cape Cod Baseball League is designed.
For Wareham Gatemen Connor Rowe (Texas) and Ryan Pineda (Cal-State Northbridge), both upcoming sophomores, the experience is different, but the concept is the same.
Rowe and Pineda are playing in the Cape League to develop as ballplayers.
And both know that there is no better place.
Rowe is different than most Cape League players: He got into only six games for the Longhorns during the spring, starting just one.
He has taken the field more times for the Gatemen than in his first season as a college player.
At first glance, his batting average at Texas looks impressive – a mark of .333. But Rowe had just six plate appearances, which he made the most of, with four RBI and a double.
While playing opportunities at Texas were few and far between, Rowe has played in all but one game for the Gatemen. “From not seeing college pitching much and then coming up to the Cape with its real good pitching, plus using wooden bats, it is just a lot tougher,: Rowe said, adding, “I have finally been able to play, so it has been a lot of fun.”
Rowe saw little playing time in college because of Texas’s solid outfield corps of Jordan Danks, Kyle Russell and Russ Moldenhauer. This summer, Rowe has been the usual starter in center, and he believes the time he spent on the bench was a blessing in disguise.
“It helped me learn a lot about being patient,” he said. “And I definitely learned a lot from Danks and Russell.”
Rowe is batting a steady .241 for the Gatemen. He has used his speed with seven stolen bases and seven doubles through Sunday. Regardless of the numbers, Rowe is happy to be playing every day and getting the chance to sharpen his skills.
Manager Cooper Farris recruited Rowe for the summer and has not been disappointed.
“Connor is a great defensive outfielder. He is a five-tool player, which is what the major league scouts look for,” Farris said. “He has to shorten his swing up a little bit this summer, which we are working at. If he can just settle in and try to spray the ball around the field, then he can use his speed.”
Farris is impressed with Rowe’s defensive skills and his willingness to recognize the areas where he needs to improve.
“He has a great arm. He gets great jumps. If he can start shortening up a little bit with his barrel and start putting balls in play, it is going to be hard to keep him out of the lineup (next spring at Texas),” Farris continued.
Rowe acknowledges the goal for growth this summer and the learning opportunity he has before him. “I learned from the beginning not to get frustrated with myself. This is a tough league for hitters and at first I was hard on myself, Now I am starting to learn from my mistakes.”
Rowe agrees with Farris. His area of focus has been working on his swing in order to utilize his speed on the base paths.
“I want to get my swing so it is the same every time,” he said. “Right now, it is different every at-bat. I just want to get a hold on my swing and figure that out.”
For infielder Pineda, however, it is not the adjustment to playing regularly that is his focus. Rather, Pineda said his biggest area of growth revolves around getting used to the Cape League’s top-notch pitching.
“I am getting used to everything being faster up here because everyone is stronger,” Pineda said.
Pineda was named Big West Freshman of the Year for the numbers he put up as a true freshman in 2008 ay Northbridge. He is maintaining a .284 average and is tied for second on the Gatemen with 15 RBI through Sunday.
Pineda recognizes that it is necessary to keep focused – both mentally and physically – because of the demanding Cape league schedule. “It is tougher on your body having to play every single day,” he said. “You have to stay in shape and really take of yourself. You can’t just mess around.”
Unlike Rowe, Pineda discovered he would be playing for the Gatemen in late May, about a week after his college season concluded. Farris notes that Pineda’s baseball sense, work ethic and hustle combine to make him a player worth watching.
“He is the same all the time. There are no highs or lows. Whether he strikes out or hits a home run, he will be the same. That’s what you need to play on the next level,” Farris said. “He doesn’t get real excited … he doesn’t get real down. He basically just comes to play every day.”
On July 19 in Hyannis, Rowe and Pineda led the way in a 13-2 Gatemen victory over the first-place Mets. Both blasted home runs to right field -- Rowe a two-run shot. Pineda a three-run blast.
With smiles spread across their faces as they crossed home plate, one thing was certain: Beyond the statistics, Rowe and Pineda were doing the job.
They were making that progression. After all, that is what the summer is about for them.
“We try to get them to play the game right and prepare them for the next level,” Farris said. “It is really fun to watch them progress.”
Laura Rasmussen, CCBL Intern (Rasmussen@capecodbaseball.org)
John Garner, Jr.
Director of Public Relations & Broadcasting
Interns: Chris Blake, James Chandley, Ashley Crosby, Phil Garceau, Stefanie Marini, Laura Rasmussen