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Three former pitchers continue in pro ranks
Smith, Augliera, Sosa head to spring training sites eager to advance promising careers
February 14, 2013
Contact: John Hartrick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
VESTAL, N.Y.—With Binghamton baseball alum Scott Diamond leading the way with the Minnesota Twins, three other former Bearcat pitchers are preparing for spring training with their respective MLB organizations. Murphy Smith, Mike Augliera and Lee Sosa are continuing their quests for both stability and mobility in the professional ranks. Bubearcats.com caught up with all three players in this Q&A segment.
Murphy Smith (Oakland)
Finished 2012 with: Midlands (Texas), Double-A
Next team on ladder: Sacramento, Triple-A
Smith was selected in the 13th round of the 2009 MLB Draft and began his pro career with the Athletics’ Rookie League team in Phoenix. He quickly earned a promotion to the organization’s short season Class A team in Vancouver and after one start, was moved up to its Class A team, Kane County, in Geneva, Ill. Smith split the 2010 season between Kane and Oakland’s High Class A team in Stockton (Calif.) and went 11-7 with a 4.49 ERA. In 2011, he dropped that ERA to 3.94 and pitched 137 innings for Stockton. This past summer, Smith was promoted to Midland (Texas), the A’s Double-A affiliate. There, he ranked second on the team in wins (6), third in ERA (4.82) and WHIP (1.63) and fourth in strikeouts (83 in 140 IP). In June, Smith was selected to represent Midland in the Texas League All-Star Game.
Mike Augliera (Boston)
Finished 2012 with: Lowell (Mass.), Single-A
Next teams on ladder: Greenville (S.C.), Low Single-A; Salem (Va.), High Single-A
After a brilliant senior season, Augliera was selected by the Red Sox in the fifth-round of the 2012 MLB Draft and spent the season with Lowell in the New York-Penn League. He was the highest draft pick in program history and the first America East pitcher taken in the 2012 Draft. Augliera drew attention from more than two dozen MLB teams throughout his senior season and cemented his high standing with a nine-inning one-hit gem against Albany in an America East Championship game witnessed by nearly 20 scouts. A three-time all-conference selection, he graduated as the school’s career leader in wins (23), innings pitched (298.1), starts (50) and complete games (13). He ranked No. 2 in the entire nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio (83 Ks vs. 7 BBs) and finished his four-year career with 253 strikeouts — second all-time. Following the taxing collegiate season, Augliera was kept on a strict pitch count at Lowell, and posted a 4.42 ERA in 38.2 innings. He had 43 strikeouts and only three walks and finished strong, allowing no runs in his final three combined outings (9.1 inn.).
Lee Sosa (Oakland)
Finished 2012 with: Arizona, Rookie
Next teams on ladder: Vermont, Short-Season Single-A; Burlington (Iowa), Single-A
Sosa was selected by the Athletics in the 26th-round of the 2012 MLB Draft. In his junior season, he earned first team all-conference honors as the premier closer in the America East. His mid-90s fastball attracted attention from MLB scouts all season long and he made 18 relief appearances with a conference-best 10 saves. Sosa had a 1.06 ERA in the regular season and struck out 18 in 18 innings of work. He spent the summer with the A’s Rookie League team in Phoenix, working 24.2 innings and posting 29 strikeouts and a 4.74 ERA in 18 appearances.
Q. What’s your schedule and where/when do you report for spring training?
Smith: I have finished my offseason workouts and throwing program and I fly out for spring training on Feb. 12. Spring training for the A’s is in Scottsdale, Ariz. I am flying out for a minor league mini-camp that starts prior to regular minor league spring training.
Augliera: I report for a mini camp February 19 at their spring training facility in Ft. Myers, Fla.
Sosa: Currently I’m practicing five days a week and working out three times a week as well. I am due to report for spring training in Arizona on March 4.
Q. Have you been told anything by the parent club about what their plans are for you this season?
Smith: I have not been told anything about where I may end up this year. As usual they keep us in the dark about that and I’m sure a large reason is because they probably don’t know where guys will start out yet.
Augliera: I haven’t been told what my plans would be, but I am prepared to strive in any role or level they assign me to.
Sosa: As of now I haven’t been told much, but I should be hearing these plans as the days get closer to spring training. As of now, it’s mainly been short term goals to get me prepared for the upcoming season.
Q. What was your focus in the off-season - how have you been spending your time in the last few months?
Smith: My focus for the offseason is both to gain weight and strength to be prepared physically for the season but also to have a good feel for a consistent delivery on the mechanical side of things. I always want to stay healthy through the offseason and I have done so this year so I don’t think I could feel more prepared for spring training than I currently do.
Augliera: I wanted to get stronger and in as good of shape as I could be for the start of the season. More importantly I wanted to improve my core and shoulder strength to help me get through the long season. I’ve been working out and throwing at home during the last few months and I feel like I am in a good place.
Sosa: My main goal has been to try to get my arm back in shape for the upcoming season and also to focus on my secondary pitches as well as my accuracy.
Q. What are your goals as you head into the 2013 season?
Smith: The goal every year is to make it to the big leagues and stick there. Obviously this is easier said than done but rather than try to think too big picture I just try to work hard day in and out and when my name gets called I try to compete to the best of my abilities.
Augliera: My personal goals for this season are to keep making progress through the Red Sox system and to make improvements on all of my pitches.
Sosa: My main goal for the 2013 season is to be the best pitcher that I can be and help my team out in any way that I can. Winning, on any level, is very important to me. That will always be my priority.
Q. At the Double-A level (Smith), you seem to be so close to the Majors ... how does it feel to have come this far and how often do you let your mind wander about what it would be like to get a call-up?
Smith: My goal has always been to make it the big leagues but I can’t dwell on it. I just try to work hard day in and day out in hopes that one day it will happen.
Q. Having gone through one season of pro ball ... do you think certain aspects of the daily grind will be easier for you? What did you learn last year that will help you this year?
Augliera: I definitely think that after having played last summer with Lowell that I will be more prepared to go through the rigors of such a long season. I learned how important it is to take care of my arm and body in order to stay healthy for the season. There are a lot of little things that go a long way into making it through the season and with what I learned last year I will be better prepared to do so.
Sosa: Many things will definitely become easier having already been through a season in pro ball. A few examples are coach expectations, catching signs, pitcher’s defense, team defense, etc. Extreme heat should also be easier to handle now that I’ve had a good taste of it.
Q. ESPN’s Keith Law made reference to you (Augliera) in his listing of top 10 Red Sox prospects ... and wrote about a possible future as a reliever. Did you see the piece and what are your thoughts about remaining a starter versus a reliever?
Augliera: I was shown the article by a friend and although I try not to pay much attention to that stuff, I would not mind relieving. Whatever role the Red Sox think will best benefit myself or the organization, I will be ready to do.
Q. The Bearcats start their season Feb. 22 at JMU ... what do you think about this year’s BU team ... will some part of you miss being back on the college diamond?
Augliera: I think that this year’s BU team definitely has the talent to compete and win the conference. They return a very good majority of the team back from last year and have a lot of experience. With both Jay Lynch and Jake Lambert, as well as many of the other guys the pitching staff will be in very good hands. Offensively the only loss they took was Dave Ciocchi, who will be tough to replace, but with everyone else returning and gaining another year of working together they will also be set for a big year. Hopefully they can get over the hump again and make it to a regional. I would say that I miss the guys and coaching staff at Binghamton more so than playing, although it would be nice to play on that new field. I still stay in touch with many of the guys there so going through the season with all of them is what I will miss the most.
Sosa: I believe the Binghamton’s team this year has many quality players. They have a lot of potential to win many games, and make it deep in the conference tournament. I wish nothing but the best for them, and hope that they accomplish all of their goals. I personally miss Binghamton and the team a lot. I had a very memorable three years being a Bearcat and couldn’t have shared it with a better group of guys. Binghamton has a great baseball program and I am very glad to have been part of it.