SCF alums trying to climb pro baseball ladder

jdill@bradenton.comFebruary 23, 2014 

BAYSHORE GARDENS -- Failure is common in baseball.

A batting average of .300 is considered good, which means a success rate of only 30 percent.

So when Taylor Wrenn bounced from one club to another last year, it was easy for the State College of Florida alum to get bogged down with a negative mindset.

"There's really no guarantee in professional baseball," said Wrenn when he arrived at the annual Manatees alumni game last month. "And you find that out."

Wrenn, a Lakeland native, played for SCF when it was still called Manatee Community College back in 2009. He left for USC before finishing at the University of Tampa and getting drafted by the Cincinnati Reds.

Wrenn toiled last year with the Texas Rangers organization and independent league baseball.

The middle infielder said he thought his dream was over after the Rangers released him prior to the regular season.

But Wrenn received an invitation to the Washington Nationals minor league spring training at the beginning of 2014.

"When they call you in the office and tell you, 'We think you can play, but we just don't have a spot for you,'" said Wrenn about his previous experiences with the Reds and Rangers, "it's a tough pill to swallow."

Wrenn advanced to the final cuts before bouncing around the independent circuit and said preparation with some good luck is needed to make the Nats' minor-league system.

But this year, Wrenn isn't alone on Florida's east coast during spring training. Former SCF teammate Austin Chubb signed with Washington after the Nationals drafted him in 2012.

While Wrenn's journey in professional baseball has had bumps in the road, Chubb's ride is more consistent.

The catcher spent 2012 in the Gulf Coast League and was with Auburn (N.Y.) in the New York-Penn League last season.

"I just want to get on a full-season team," Chubb said. "Hopefully, most likely it would be low-A which is Hagerstown, Maryland, in the South Atlantic League. ... I'll do what they tell me and hopefully keep my job."

That optimistic attitude is precisely what professional baseball is about: keeping yourself in the game that sparked passion as a youth.

It's a mighty difficult proposition, but one that Wrenn and Chubb are hopeful will continue in 2014 and beyond.

"I'm going to try making the most out of every opportunity," Chubb said.

Chubb, who collected 21 hits in 105 at-bats (.200) last year, said four of his teammates were released in the past month.

"It's an eye-opener," Chubb said.

Only time will tell how long either remain in the game, but both said they know how difficult it is to make it and neither are taking the chances they receive lightly.

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