PORT CHAROLTTE, Fla., – Jake Bauers has been on a meteoric rise to professional baseball.
The 19-year old Tampa Bay Rays prospect did not make his high school varsity team until his junior year.
Bauers, who has been playing baseball since the age of four, was excited to finally make the team.
“It was great,” said Bauers, sitting inside the media room at the Rays minor league facility. “It was definitely something I expected to do a little earlier, but you know waiting almost made it that much sweeter so it was great to finally get there.”
Making his high school varsity team turned out to be just the beginning of his playing career. During his senior year, he had a batting average of .577 with 41 hits, six home runs and seven doubles.
Those numbers meant that Bauers had extra spectators at all of his games, college and professional scouts. He quickly had to adjust to all of the extra attention.
“It was definitely a little nerve wracking until you kind of find a way to block it out and just treated like any other game,” said Bauers. “Once you do that, then it didn’t really effect anything, but definitely those first few games they started showing up it could be a little nerve wracking.”
He was selected in the seventh round of the 2013 draft by the San Diego Padres. Bauers had to make the tough choice between college and professional baseball.
A commitment to the University of Hawaii was the alternative, but he decided to sign with the Padres.
“It was a huge decision and it came down to really was all I wanted to do was play baseball and not worry about anything else, so than obviously professional was the right route,” said Bauers. “I don’t really regret any decisions I’ve made and I definitely still want to get back to school one day and get my degree and all that stuff, so that will come.”
Just two years after finally making the varsity team, Bauers made his pro debut with the Arizona League Padres in 2013. Last season he played for the Class-A Fort Wayne TinCaps hitting .296 with 18 doubles, eight home runs and 64 runs batted in.
During the off-season, Bauers was traded to the Rays. The change in teams came as a shock so early in his career, but he is looking forward to the season ahead.
“It was definitely unexpected, it is not something you wake up and think one day that you will be traded,” said Bauers. “It definitely came as a huge surprise to me, but it is a great opportunity and I am looking forward to this first season.”
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