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Dec 4, 2018 6:43 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Ryan Osborne To Continue His Baseball Career In The Pecos League

Dec 6, 2018 9:56 AM

All athletes have a strong desire to play the sport they love. For some of them that desire wanes through the progression of higher levels of competition, and for others that desire never seems to go away.

It hasn’t for Ryan Osborne.

After a successful high school career at Westhampton Beach, Osborne spent the next three years playing baseball at Farmingdale State University before transferring to John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City where he played his final year of eligible collegiate baseball this past spring. While most players pack up their uniform and equipment for the last time once the season ends their senior year, Osborne, 22, wasn’t ready to do that.

So, thanks to a heads-up by a coach at John Jay, Osborne, who played a few summers on the Westhampton Aviators of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, attended a try-out for the Santa Fe Fuego of the Pecos League this past October in Malden, Massachusetts. The Pecos League is an independent baseball league—similar to the Atlantic Baseball League which the Long Island Ducks play in—but operates throughout the southwestern corridor of the U.S., including parts of California, New Mexico, Arizona, Kansas, Texas and Colorado. According to its website, the Pecos League, from 2010-2018, has promoted 412 of its players to higher independent league or Major League-affiliated teams.

A few weeks after the tryout, Osborne got a phone call from Sante Fe manager T.J. Zarewicz that he had made the team and was offered a one-year contract. He’ll head to New Mexico in May for spring training before the season starts at the end of the month.

“I’m not gonna lie, I did break down a little,” Osborne admitted. “It’s kind of a cool thing to get noticed. It is a dream come true in a sense that this was validation that I can play at the next level.”

Osborne is currently finishing up his bachelor’s degree at John Jay, where he batted .314 with five home runs, 27 RBIs, 28 runs scored, and stole 19 bases out of 20 attempts to help the Bloodhounds to their best season in 10 years this past spring. He will be looking to earn his master’s degree so he can become a lawyer at some point down the road.

Osborne played outfield throughout his high school and college careers and that’s what he’ll continue to do in Sante Fe. Zarewicz said that with a 22-player roster—which is three players less than that of a Major League roster—he likes to have a backup catcher, a backup infielder and a backup outfielder to go along with 11 pitchers. Since there is no designated hitter in the Pecos League, Zarewicz said Osborne is going to get his opportunities.

“Playing with National League rules gives everybody on your bench an opportunity to see live pitching every day,” he said. “A lot of the time guys will have to come off the bench and come up in a big spot at the plate. We play on smaller fields at higher elevations so the athleticism of a player plays a little more, and so I need guys who can come off the bench, get a big hit or steal some bags, and Ryan fits that bill.”

Zarewicz ran the try-out in Massachusetts along with league commissioner Andrew Dunn. Right away he could see that Osborne was an athlete.

“Ryan ran well. We went into some defensive stuff and worked him out in the outfield. We liked his footwork, liked his arm. We actually threw a live pitcher and Ryan handled that fairly well against a guy we knew could pitch a little bit. He handled everything pretty well and showed a strong interest in playing at the next level.”

Like all professional baseball clubs, the Santa Fe Fuego sign and release players throughout the year, but Zarewicz was quick to point out that while Pecos is one of the lowest forms of professional baseball in the country, it’s a good league because the teams do give good opportunities to those players who still have that drive to make it to the Majors, so Osborne is going to get his shot to prove himself.

“I once saw a manager in one league release a player on the spot because he didn’t like how he swung the bat. I’ve also seen teams make over 180 transactions in a single season, which is just crazy,” Zarewicz said. “We don’t have that never ending carousel of players. The guys we bring into spring training, we usually stick to those guys because we had faith in them off the get-go.

“Now things do change,” he added. “If a guy is batting .085 and it’s halfway through the season, this is a professional league ... you can either hang or you can’t, and at the end of the day, managers are paid to win. But with Pecos those players are going to be given a more fair evaluation, as for playing time.”

Osborne is going to give it his best shot this summer to continue his dream of one day playing in the big leagues. If it means he has to go the long route, so be it.

“My body is in great shape. I love to work out, love to run. My thing is my body is still telling me I’ve still got a lot left, so until it gives out I’m going to continue to play, and whether it’s in the Pecos League, or if God willing I can catch on with a minor league team somewhere, so be it. I have a strong interest in coaching also, so this can also be an opportunity to do that, and when it’s all said and done I can just pop right back into law school.”

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