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Power Pick-Ups

May 30, 2011

They began filtering in at 7:30 in the morning. Clad in baseball pants and a vast array of jerseys from different schools and former teams, the young men took the field, hoping to impress the coaches lingering in the bullpens and behind the “turtle,” i.e. the big shell around home plate and the general hitting vicinity during batting practice. The ballplayers fielded bouncing grounders at second, short, and third, shagged flies in the outfield grass, and showed off their arms, throwing bullets to catch hypothetical runners gunning for the plate. The Southern California Collegiate Baseball League’s (SCCBL) open tryout brought thirty-one ballplayers to Palm Springs Stadium, where the league’s six teams evaluated them and decided who they’d like to offer rosters spots and who would be better off trying again next year.

After many on-field meetings between the Palm Spring Power’s brain trust of manager Harry Gurley, assistant coaches P.J. Jimenez and Dan DiPace, and owner Andrew Starke, the tryout’s host team extended offers to five players. While two have yet to make their final decisions, three tryout participants inked their names to 2011 Power contracts right after the workout. Donald Glover, Cade Gotta, and Jose Garcia will return to the stadium Tuesday, along with the rest of the Power’s recruited roster for the team’s first official practice of the year.

Glover, at six-foot-nothing and 185 pounds, boasts a much more muscular frame than the Community cast member of the same name. The lefty-swinging sophomore ran a 6.5 second 60-yard-sprint at the tryout and cites speed as his greatest strength. Though Western Nevada only gave Glover 35 at-bats in his freshman year, he made the most of them, hitting .286 while getting on-base at a .409 clip and scoring 15 runs. To put the run total in perspective, in an everyday major leaguer’s typical season (600 at-bats) that’s the equivalent of a 257 (!) run season. Small sample? Yes, but impressive none-the-less.

While Glover’s speed stands out as a premier aspect of his game, his new teammate Garcia wants to “pick up [his] speed on the bases” this season. The College of the Desert sophomore primarily plays first, but also has experience on the mound. He threw just two innings this past season, but looked comfortable in his bullpen session today. Asked whether he thinks the Power will play him primarily at first or on the mound, he responded quickly, “whatever’s going to help make the team better. I’m open to whatever opportunities they present to me.” A team player, Garcia always expects to have his head in the game so that knucklehead mistakes never take away from his progress on the field. “I can always improve on everything, but mentally I think I got it down.”

The Power’s third signee, Gotta, joins the only two of his Riverside City College teammates who sported higher slugging percentages than him this past season: outfielder Frank Torres and corner infielder Chad Erikson. An impressive-looking hitter, Gotta prides himself on plate discipline, “I’m really visual with the ball and I think I make the pitchers work a lot more than a lot of other guys do.” With a .428 on-base percentage for Riverside, that intensity and patience clearly paid off, and it should reap rewards for Gotta and the Power lineup this summer.

With the addition of the 3G trio, as they’re apt to be nicknamed, the Power are ready to get the season rolling this Friday, when they’ll face the Casa Grande Cotton Kings on Opening Night. While Garcia, Glover, and Gotta impressed at the tryout, they plan to improve every day, all season long. Glover put it best when he summed up his summer goals: “working on just being a better player, a better person, [and] having fun with the team.” Progressing as a ballplayer and making the most of it, that’s what baseball’s all about.

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