This summer, Penn baseball alumni Austin Bossart and Ronnie Glenn have taken their talents from the Ivy League to the minor leagues.
Bossart and Glenn recently began their professional baseball careers after being selected in June’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Bossart — a catcher taken in the 14th round by the Philadelphia Phillies — has been playing for the Class A Short Season Williamsport Crosscutters. Glenn, a left-handed pitcher who went to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 22nd round, was assigned to the Rookie League Orem Owlz.
“Honestly, it has been a fairly smooth transition coming from Ivy League baseball,” Bossart said. While noting that pitchers across the board consistently throw harder, he added, “I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the transition, which in my mind is a credit to the high level of play in the Ivy League.”
Bossart has transferred the excellent play that won him co-Ivy League Player of the Year honors this past spring to the Crosscutters, as he has batted .365 in 52 at-bats for Williamsport. Glenn has also pitched well, winning a team-high five games for the Owlz and striking out a dominating 30 batters in just 21 innings.
While the game they play is the same, both have had to adjust to new roles and a new lifestyle.
After playing almost exclusively on weekends for the Quakers, the duo now must play a game (or possibly two) each day. While different from college baseball, it hasn’t been a radical change for either, as both experienced similar playing schedules in the collegiate summer baseball leagues in which they participated in summers between school years.
Glenn — who finds himself playing in Northern Utah — has had to make the added transition from starting pitcher to reliever. But again, he credits his quick adaptation to the new role to his time in summer leagues.
“Last summer in the Cape Cod League I had a similar transition from a starting role to a relieving role,” Glenn said. “I think having undergone this period of adjustment once before has really helped me this season.
Glenn and Bossart both feel the environment in which they have played has helped make them better ballplayers. Bossart had the opportunity to catch David Buchanan — a two-year member of the Phillies’ major league starting rotation — while the pitcher underwent a brief stint in the minor leagues as he returned from an injury.
Similarly, Glenn credits the high level of competition he has faced and the instruction he has received from the Angels as contributing to his rapid improvement since joining the Owlz.
Minor league baseball is often made out to be a difficult experience. While Major League Baseball players take home some of the highest salaries of any athletes, minor leaguers often receive a fraction of that.
Furthermore, buses are the preferred mode of transportation, with many rides exceeding 10 hours. Healthy and tasty food is either rare, expensive or both. And, since baseball has an extensive minor league system consisting of many levels, it’s not uncommon for those at the lowest levels to feel that a journey to the Major Leagues is insurmountable.
However, little of this has fazed Glenn and Bossart.
“The minor league life is definitely an interesting lifestyle,” Glenn said. “I am sure there are many things one could complain about, but I frequently find myself distracted by my appreciation of the game and for my opportunity to be living out a childhood dream. The conditions of this lifestyle are insignificant compared to my faith in God and my opportunity to play professional baseball in the Los Angeles Angels organization.”
“There are long bus rides, but the Phillies organization takes care of the players,” Bossart added. “We are fed twice a day at the clubhouse and have many healthy options to choose from, which makes staying in shape and in tip top form much easier.”
Outside of baseball, both players also appreciate the settings in which they are playing.
Williamsport is the home of the Little League World Series, in which the best Little League teams from around the world meet each year to crown one global champion. Many remember Philadelphia’s own Mo’ne Davis’s outstanding performance as last year’s tournament.
“I can imagine it is going to be an awesome experience,” Bossart said. “I can’t wait to go catch a few games whenever the time comes.”
Likewise, Glenn has enjoyed playing baseball in the friendly community of Orem.
“The fans are wonderful, the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains is breath-taking, playing baseball everyday has been fun and the facilities are incredible,” Glenn said.
“I really could go on and on.”
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