|Admirals 1st base coach and player development director speaks to prospective Admirals at the end of the tryout.
By Gabe SchapiroVallejo, CA — The Vallejo Admirals Professional Baseball Club is charging into its third season with championship aspirations. To reach that mountaintop, they’re spanning the globe — literally — to find the best possible talent. That was on clear display this past weekend, when the team held a try out on CC Sabathia Field, at Patterson Park.The venue may have been local, but the talent pool in attendance included some that were anything but. There were players from the Bay Area, Southern California, Phoenix, Utah, Alabama, New York and even Japan and Korea.
Hailing from the aforementioned Korea, was a young man named Young Lee. He flew to California specifically for the try out and an opportunity to follow his dream of playing professional baseball in the United States.
A lanky right-handed pitcher who stands at 6’ 3”, Young sports a 91-MPH fastball at just 19 years of age. Admirals player development director and first base coach, Mike Samuels, compares him to Texas Rangers ace, Yu Darvish, both in his build and quick arm action.
Young has not yet attended college, however, and signing a contract with a professional team would force him to lose his eligibility and amateur status.
Samuels, who oversaw the try out, commented, “he threw very well, and the pitching coach actually wanted to sign him. But after we talked about him and his story, we agreed that we couldn’t take his opportunity to go to college away from him.”
He describes Young as being quiet, but a very nice kid who expressed an eagerness to learn and take the right steps to eventually realizing his dream.
So Samuels did the right thing and what was best for Lee. He used some of his wealth of baseball connections and directed Young to attend Napa Valley Community College. He has already gotten Young in touch with their pitching coach, Warren Brusstar.
At the end of the day, 12 players received invites to Spring Training, more than double the total from last year’s try out. Pitcher David Dinelli, a returning Admiral, ran the pitching portion of the tryout, and specifically noted the impressive level of pitching talent. “I felt like I was being too nice,” Dinelli said, “I kept giving guys a ‘yes’ on their evaluation form.”
Among the group of pitchers invited to camp was a 56-year old knuckleballer from Utah, Thomas Wright. He quickly drew comparisons to the fabled Roy Hobbs, Robert Reford’s character in “The Natural.” His dancing knuckler kept hitters off balance, and a it’s a pitch that leads to long careers for baseball players, making it possible for him to be effective and get an invite at his age.
A local product, 29-year old shortstop Danny Wansley, also impressed enough to earn an extended look. He was one of two Vallejo natives to go home with an invitation, after showing off a cannon of an arm, which Samuels described as being “big league material.”
Admirals spring training begins May 20th at Dan Foley Park in Vallejo and is open to the public. The Admirals will use Dan Foley for spring training while the brand new infield at their home field of Wilson Park continues to take hold.