Young athletes are often told to worry only about the things that they can control.
Things such as passion, effort, energy and attitude.
If athletes concern themselves with those attributes, the results will normally be positive.
Unfortunately, that apparently was not the case with former Eastern York High School standout Dylan Stoops, who was recently released by the San Diego Padres organization.
Pursuing his dream to pitch professionally, Stoops said he did his best to compete with passion, effort, energy and a positive attitude after getting signed by the Padres.
He pitched in three games for High-A Lake Elsinore last summer, and he continued it during spring training with the organization.
The 6-foot, 4-inch left-hander said he was one of the first players on the field or in the weight room. He said he remained positive to both himself and his peers chasing the same goal. Stoops, however, could only control so much.
As it turned out, the primary thing that Stoops couldn’t control was one the biggest factors working against him.
At 25 years old, Stoops was older than many of the players in the low minor leagues. He also wasn’t drafted by the team, so his spot in the pecking order was anything but secure.
Stoops said he did everything he could to continue his dream. He said he pitched well, allowing two hits over a dozen appearances during his time at spring training. He also said he dominated batters regularly, as evidenced by a gaudy strikeout rate of nearly 18 per nine innings pitched.
So, when Stoops got word that the coaching staff wanted to meet with him in late March, he thought he was getting information about which minor-league team he would be joining.
It only took a few moments for him to realize that the message he was about to receive was quite the opposite. Stoops wouldn’t be breaking camp with any of San Diego's affiliated teams. Instead he was offered a choice of whether he wanted to leave camp to go home that night or the next morning.
“Part of it is my age,” he said. “Being 25, they couldn’t really afford to keep me at extended (spring training) or even send me to Low-A. It was one of those things where they had money invested in these guys and it starts to become a little political. And I totally understand that. If they signed a guy for $2 million, they need to give him a chance. But it’s tough because I felt like I outplayed a lot of guys and threw up some really great numbers.”
This spring was certainly an eye-opening experience for Stoops. While there is always doubt in the back of any minor leaguer, Stoops was not prepared to be released after performing so well.
“They told me it wasn’t an effort thing,” Stoops said. “It wasn’t a work thing. All of the coaches out there raved about how I was out there so early every day. I was picking everyone’s brains and doing what I could. But they said that they couldn’t keep me at High-A. They have four or five first-round pitching prospects at Low-A and High-A and they have another guy on the 40-man (roster). It was just a numbers thing.”
Now Stoops is figuring out how to proceed with the next chapter of his life. That chapter likely will not include pro baseball.
“Getting released was a tough pill to swallow,” he said. “That was kind of my last hoorah.”
He still plans to pitch a handful or more games this summer in the Susquehanna League for East Prospect. But he knows that he has to move on with his life.
“The life of a baseball player, unless you’re in the big leagues, you don’t make a lot of money,” he said. “I have student loans and other expenses. And my family has been absolutely great. They have done everything to help support me along the way. And I think that I’m now at a time in my life where I have to start supporting myself.”
Susquehanna League tidbits: Here a few news notes from around the Susquehanna League, which was scheduled to start its season on Saturday, May 6. Rain, however, has plagued the league thus far and only three games have been completed.
Hallam will return most of the same cast that led the Express to the league title a season ago. The defending champs, however, will be under the direction of a new skipper this year. Rich Day takes over for Terry Golden. A couple of new additions in Xavier Bonilla and Clayton Miller figure to fit in nicely with a veteran squad.
Jacobus and East Prospect figure to field championship-caliber squads after chasing Hallam a season ago.
Red Lion figures to be in the mix for the league and playoff titles after several down seasons. Manager Mike Zelger is excited about the potential of his team that features 11 college-level pitchers on the roster. Red Lion last won the league title back in 2011.
Central League tidbits: The Central League baseball season starts Tuesday night.
Following are few news and notes from around the league.
Jefferson will now be entirely under the management of Pat Schultz this season.
Schultz, who assisted manager Steve Gentile over the past several seasons, believes the Titans have a chance to repeat, with many of the same players returning from last year’s championship squad.
Stoverstown appears to be set for another successful season. The Tigers, who won both the Central League playoff and Tom Kerrigan Memorial crowns last year, were edged out by a point in the standings behind Jefferson during the regular season. The additions of Austin Rickrode (Dover) and Josh Hildebrand (Tommy John surgery) figure to boast an already formidable squad led by manager Tim Thoman.
Mount Wolf will be under new management after the untimely death of former skipper Tim Brenner. The Wolves will be led by the duo of Jeff Kuhn and Dave Heckert, who will split coaching duties.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.