Newbies adding to MV’s mix

NILES — Every year, especially in the lower levels of minor league baseball, players move up or move out via trade. For the Scrappers, they have 14 guys that played minimally or didn’t play at all for the Scrappers a year ago.

With all the talent that will grace Eastwood Field starting Friday, the Scrappers will be looking to build off of last year’s Pinckney Division winner.

“It’s a lot different. In California, you have the nice California weather as everyone says. Out here, it’s a little different and a little more humid. You are still playing baseball either way,” Scrappers infielder Tyler Freeman said. “I was drafted out of high school. The transition has been good. I was very well prepared by great coaches. The transition has been easier than I thought it would be. There are still difficulties here and there.”

This is the furthest East that Freeman said he has ever played baseball. Last year in the Arizona League, Freeman batted .297 in 36 games with two home runs and 14 RBIs.

Freeman is one of 12 guys on the roster with Arizona League experience. He said playing with a lot of those guys again will be helpful in chemistry terms.

Last season, outfielder Mitch Reeves came up during the Scrappers playoff games. Mahoning Valley would be swept by the Vermont Lake Monsters in two games.

“I was here last year for the playoff run. I was moved up from Arizona so I got to be apart of it. We got a lot of good training in Arizona before we got here. I feel like I got to know a lot of the guys really well,” Reeves said. “I think we play well together. Getting a lot of reps out there helped me get off to a running start.”

Last year, Reeves batted .291 with the Arizona League (rookie) Indians while hitting four home runs and collecting 19 RBI. In eight at-bats with the Scrappers last year, Reeves had four hits, drew three walks and had an RBI.

“Any time you have some familiarity, it’s going to be a lot easier. With some of the veteran players coming back as well as the coaches that have been here, they’ve been very welcoming. The front office has been here so they have been helpful,” Scrappers manager Jim Pankovitz said. “There are a lot on the plate for these kids right now. As much as we can simplify it for them, the better.”

For the team, Pankovitz and his staff are going to make sure everyone is focused on playing well and winning where they are now.

“For me, you can only control what is happening now. You can’t judge anything else. You still play baseball and have fun,” Freeman said. “Whatever happens, happens.”