BRADENTON — The reason Jeremy Farrell became a professional baseball player is simple: He wanted to.
No nudging from his father, John, a former major leaguer currently serving as the Boston Red Sox pitching coach. No pressure from his family to become the third generation of Farrells to play baseball after his grandfather, Tom, pitched in the Cleveland Indians organization.
Farrell decided to pursue his career on his own, and playing third base for the high Single-A Bradenton Marauders is part of the process.
The Marauders continued their strong play at home, beating the St. Lucie Mets 14-5 on Friday night at McKechnie Field. They have scored 38 runs in three home games and are 6-2 overall.
Make no mistake — baseball was a constant for Jeremy and his brothers, Shane and Luke. John Farrell broke into the majors with the Indians in 1987, and Jeremy’s idea of going to work with dad meant spending summer nights at the ballpark.
“It was a really fun childhood to be able to do that,” Jeremy said.
But the Farrell boys’ athletic exploits weren’t limited to bats and balls. They played basketball and hockey, too, with full encouragement from their father.
“It wasn’t one of those things where we were forced to play the game by any means,” Jeremy said prior to Friday’s game against the St. Lucie Mets. “We were encouraged to play other sports, and that’s what we did.
“We were very fortunate to participate in many different things and grew to love the game on our own — and still do to this day, obviously.”
Having baseball in your blood does have its perks. Prior to going to the Red Sox, John Farrell was the Indians’ director of player development, allowing Jeremy to work out with Cleveland’s instructional league camp when he visited his dad during high school vacation.
One guy who paid close attention to Jeremy was Neal Huntington, then a special assistant to Cleveland’s general manager.
Huntington became the Pittsburgh Pirates’ general manager in Sept. 2007 and wound up picking Jeremy in the eighth round of the 2008 draft.
“I remember watching him taking batting practice and taking ground balls, and he belonged there, even at 16,” Huntington told MLB.com. “But we didn’t draft Jeremy thinking he’d become John. We knew his abilities alone warranted his being drafted.”
After spending all of last season with Pittsburgh’s low-A affiliate in West Virginia, Jeremy appeared in four Grapefruit League games this spring.
During a game against the Boston Red Sox at McKechnie Field, Jeremy hit a home run, trotting around the bases while his father watched from the Boston dugout.
“That game in spring training, I have to say, was one of the cooler moments I’ve had in the game,” Jeremy said. “First of all, being in a big-league game, that’s cool in itself, and to do it with him sitting in the other dugout, that’s pretty special.”
The same can be said for Farrell’s start this season. He hit two home runs — including a grand slam — during the Marauders’ inaugural game April 8, and he began the weekend leading the Florida State League in RBIs.
“I don’t know if there’s a specific plan for anybody in baseball,” he said. “Everyone’s got their own path that they take. So far, that’s the path I’ve been on.”
It’s the path Farrell always wanted to walk.
“If you’re involved in this, it’s a six-month grind. You’re doing it every day,” he said. “If you don’t love it, it’s going to be tough. I absolutely love it — I love coming to the ballpark every day, and I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.”