Baseball alumni hit up Florida for spring training
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Oakland’s Division I sports teams have seen a few of their athletes go on to play professionally after finishing their careers with the Golden Grizzlies. Just last year, the Athletics department saw eight of its 2016 graduates from different sports sign professional contracts.
One of those eight was baseball standout Mike Brosseau, who signed a free-agency contract with the Tampa Bay Rays two days after the 2016 MLB draft and plays in the Ray’s minor-league system. Brosseau heads to Port Charlotte, Florida, on Feb. 20 for his second season with the team.
The Rays organization noticed Brosseau’s calm and collected nature. This year, he was invited down early for spring training.
“It’s a pretty good sign,” Brosseau said. “They want me to report down a few weeks before other players come to the Florida facility.”
The relationships Brosseau built at Oakland have continued to be helpful throughout the process of going from collegiate athlete to professional athlete.
Current co-head coach of the Oakland baseball team Jacke Healey was the assistant coach for three of Brosseau’s seasons with the Golden Grizzlies, and the two developed a close relationship.
“We had a really good relationship while I was in college, and even after we have remained close,” Brosseau said.
Having been drafted by the Houston Astros in the 27th round of the 2010 Major League Baseball draft, Healey was a source of information and guidance during the process of finding a professional contract.
“He told me everything to expect and gave me more insight into everything that was going to happen since he’d been through it before,” Brosseau said. “He kept me level-headed.”
Additionally, Brosseau has spent much of the offseason living and training with a couple of his former Oakland teammates who also continued on to play professional baseball. He described living with his baseball friends and training during the offseason in a west Michigan facility as a “perfect situation.”
At Oakland, Brosseau played shortstop, but upon joining the Rays organization, he began playing third base. Brosseau said the change wasn’t too difficult to make.
Looking to the future, Brosseau has high hopes for what’s to come. He was named to the All-Gulf Coast League after his first season with the league’s Tampa Bay Rays affiliate. He posted a .319 batting average, good for the 12th highest in the league, with 36 hits, 21 RBIs and 20 runs scored.
The minor league system has several leagues, from Rookie to Triple-A. Brosseau is optimistic that he will be able to make his way up.
“I think, if I perform well, I can move on up in the system,” he said. “I think I opened a lot of eyes last season.”
Brosseau isn’t the only player from Oakland currently playing for an affiliated team. In June 2014, the Cincinnati Reds signed pitcher Jake Paulson in the 27th round of the MLB Draft.
Since then, Paulson has moved up in the Red’s minor league system. He first played in the Rookie League for the affiliated AZL Reds, then Full A-Ball with the Dayton Dragons and is currently a part of the Daytona Tortugas in the Advanced A league.
“The biggest thing about getting higher in the system is just staying consistent,” Paulson said. “In college, you could get away with making mistakes. In the pros, you make a mistake, and you pay for it.”
As a pitcher, Paulson’s credits his success every year to “just trusting my stuff, staying consistent and trusting my teammates to keep getting batters out.” Paulson also attributes his success to the help he gets from others.
“The support I get from my family and my teammates help[s] keep me motivated,” he said.
Last season, Paulson was battling bicep tendinitis all year. It affected his game statistically, but Paulson said he’s back to 100 percent now. He was also invited to attend spring training early this season and heads to Florida on Feb. 26.
“I’m looking forward to a great year in 2017,” Paulson said.