ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Tabor senior Tyler Marsh took another step toward his childhood dreams Monday when he drove off for Florida.
Marsh had been invited to try out for a position on the Pensacola Pelicans of the Southeastern League of Professional Baseball, an independent league.
Other members of the SLPB are the Baton Rouge River Rats, Montgomery Wings, Houma Hawks, Macon Baseball and Selma Cloverleafs.
“They have a 15-day ‘spring training,’ as they refer to it,” he said late last week. “I’m just going down there to give it my best shot. “They’ve invited 30 to 35 players, and they’re keeping 24.”
The Pelicans are a professional team with a skill level somewhere between ‘A’ and ‘AA’ ball.
The Pelican season runs from mid-May through August.
Marsh, a senior from Elk City, Okla., was selected for the KCAC All-Conference first team this spring at Tabor.
While playing in all 44 games, he led the Bluejays in most offensive categories, including at bats (146), batting average (.486), runs (37), hits (71), doubles (12), home runs (6), runs batted in (30), total bases (103), on-base percentage (.578), stolen bases (16-18), and slugging percentage (.705).
A good contact hitter, Marsh struck out only 11 times all season.
“For the most part, I was happy with my play this season,” Marsh said. “I thought I improved during the season.
“Tabor gave me the opportunity to play,” he added. “Baseball is one of those games you can practice, but you need to be in game situations to determine if you’re able to play or not.”
Marsh is quick to credit his brother Brady, an assistant coach at Tabor, with his opportunity to compete for a position with the Pelicans.
“Brady has been a huge part of it,” he said. “He’s basically given them (Pelicans) my stats and times and made all the contacts.
“I’m sure having someone like Brady that gets your name out is a big factor,” Marsh added. “Coming from a small school, you have to have someone believe in you and get your name out, because that’s what it’s all about.”
While the Pelicans aren’t associated with any specific professional team, it’s a good springboard for signing minor league contracts, Marsh said.
“They had three guys who played for them last year that signed professional minor league contracts,” he said. “It’s a showcase for baseball players.
“The Pelican coach said he’d like to keep everyone, but that can’t happen,” Marsh said. “But he also said if you’re one of the guys that gets cut, he’ll take you into his office and make some phone calls to see if he can get you on another team.”
Marsh found out only recently that the Pelicans had offered him a tryout, so he and brother Brady have been busy preparing Tyler for the 15-day spring training.
“We’ve been working out to get prepared,” Marsh said. “I’ve been taking fungoes, infield and outfield work and hitting practice. Pretty much just working out.”
Marsh said the best case scenario for him would be to make the team, and see where it leads.
In contrast, the worst case sees him returning to Hillsboro to complete work for his college degree, which he’ll attain in December.
An accomplished pilot and flight instructor, Marsh said he has a couple student pilots on hold for the summer, pending the outcome of his tryout.
“If baseball doesn’t work out, flying is definitely in my future,” he said. “But I hope I have to put it off indefinitely.”