The Tri-City ValleyCats, former class A affiliate of the Houston Astros, held their first open tryout since 2010 last week at Joseph Bruno Stadium in Troy. The tryout comes after the ValleyCats lost their affiliation in the recent minor league reduction, and are now responsible for signing their own players.
The 2018 New York Penn League Champions will become the 14th member of the Frontier League, a professional independent baseball league that is considered an MLB partner league. The ValleyCats will be the league’s second New York team, joining the New York Boulders of Pomona, NY.
The tryout drew a crowd of 45 participants, 28 position players, and 17 pitchers, with ages ranging from 18 to 46. 23-year-old Penn State graduate and LHP Adam Michalesko drove three hours early Friday morning from Hazelton, PA with his father and sister to attend the tryout. Others traveled from Texas, Massachusetts, New York City, Connecticut, and more.
The day started at 9 am sharp with a 20-minute stretching routine in left field. From there the players split into two groups, pitchers and position players. Pitchers stayed in left field to loosen their arms while the position players crossed over to right field to run the 60-yard dash.
Once loose, the pitchers got a chance to throw 15-20 pitches off the bullpen mound for Valleycats pitching coach Joe Gannon. This would take up the rest of the 3-hour tryout for the pitchers. Michalesko was the last pitcher to get up on the mound, but didn’t mind the wait saying, “[Gannon] took his time with everyone which was cool of him.”
Meanwhile, the position players got to show off their arms with throws from right field to third base, took ground balls in the infield, and put on a show with the bats during batting practice. Once the pitchers finished, the day concluded with the catchers making throws down to the second base and getting their turn to take BP.
Although no one walked away with a contract that day, players were able to network and form relationships that will help them with their pro-baseball dreams in the future. Pitchers Edwin Veras and Matthew Bénin Ing were able to bond over their shared home of New York City, and plan to train together this summer while they await a potential call from ValleyCats General Manager Matt Callahan.
The ValleyCats season begins on the road on May 27, with the home opener at Joe Bruno Stadium scheduled for June 4 against the Jersey Jackals. This season brings a new era of professional baseball to the Capital Region as the ValleyCats embark on their new journey in the Frontier League.
Will you be attending a ValleyCats game this year? Let us know on social media @thedavidpayne and @capitalsportmn