The giant leap from the college campus to the professional ranks has been a relatively smooth transition for three former Cal State Bakersfield baseball players.
Pitchers Edgar Barclay and Darius Vines, along with catcher Jake Ortega all made their minor league debuts in the last two weeks, with varying degrees of success.
Barclay, who was drafted in the 15th round by the New York Yankees, has pitched three scoreless innings of relief in two appearances for the Yankees’ Gulf Coast League rookie affiliate based out of Tampa, Fla.
“It’s great putting on the pinstripes, and being a Yankee is a blessing,” Barclay said. “There’s a different sense of pride putting it on. That’s not dis-similar to CSUB. Knowing that I’m playing pro ball, and especially the first couple of outings, I was a little anxious, but so far it’s going well.”
The 5-foot-10 left-hander led the WAC in strikeouts this season, finishing 6-4 with a 3.69 ERA in 16 appearances, including 14 starts.
“I’ve worked really hard to get to this point and I just have to trust myself that I have it,” Barclay said. “It helps keep me calm when I think about it along those lines.”
The native Hilo, Hawaii says despite being so far from home, he’s adjusting to life on the opposite coast.
“I’m just focusing on baseball right now, and I don’t have a car yet, but there’s a beach about 30 minutes away and a lot of nice places to eat,” Barclay said. “Tampa is a really fun place to be.”
Of the three, Ortega has had the most immediate impact. Drafted in the 28th round by the New York Mets, he started two games behind the plate last week and is batting .455 (5-for-11) with two RBIs for the Class A Short Season Brooklyn Cyclones.
Ortega was a second-team all-Western Athletic Conference performer the last two years at CSUB, hitting a team-high .326 with one home run and 26 RBIs.
Vines had mixed results in his debut. He was charged with the loss in relief for the Danville (Va.) Braves, the rookie ball affiliate for the Atlanta Braves.
The 7th-round draft choice gave up an earned run on one hit, striking out two in an inning of relief last week. The 6-foot-1 right-hander was 5-3 with a 4.10 ERA at CSUB this season.