It takes a lot to be a Penn athlete. It takes even more to be a successful Penn athlete.
And it’s damn near impossible for a Penn athlete to excel in the world of professional sports.
But Ronnie Glenn — a lefty pitcher and 2015 Red and Blue baseball graduate — is doing just that. After being selected in the 22nd round of last year’s first-year player draft by the Los Angeles Angels, Glenn is steadily working his way up the minor league ladder.
After playing for the Rookie-level Orem Owlz last summer in Utah, Glenn was promoted to the Single-A Burlington (IA) Bees, a strong step forward as he pursues his goal of making the majors.
“The players in this league are more polished,” the Florida native said of playing at the next level. “They have a good sense of the game. Even the guys without out-of-the-park talent, they know how to compete with their stuff.”
After pitching exclusively as a reliever with the Owlz, Glenn has moved back to being a starter — his role in college — this season.
“Going into this offseason, they wanted to have the mindset of having me as a starter,” he said. “They made no guarantees, but I really worked on my conditioning in the offseason; they told me to come back in the best shape that I could.”
When the Angels broke camp in Arizona a week ago, Glenn was named the Bees’ No. 4 starter. He made his season debut Monday night, surrendering just one earned run over five innings of work in a game the Bees would come back to win in dramatic fashion, 4-3.
“I felt comfortable. I worked well with the catcher I had back there [Nebraska product Tanner Lubach]. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to finish the game, so I’m just gonna work on being more efficient in my next outing,” Glenn said.
A season ago, Glenn pitched to a 6-1 record with a 3.73 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, all team bests among Orem players with at least 40 innings pitched. In the offseason, Glenn, in addition to making the transition to starting, focused primarily on developing his fastball.
“I really have to trust that my fastball is good enough to get these hitters out, so I don’t have to rely on my slider or my changeup,” Glenn said. “When you’re facing guys two or three times [as a starter], you really have to trust your fastball.”
Even as he makes his personal progress through the minors, Glenn keeps a close eye on goings-on with the Penn baseball program.
“[2015 graduate and former Penn shortstop] Mitch Montaldo just up came to watch us play in Peoria. He was catching me up. ... I’m really proud [of] how the guys work together as a team and manufacture wins the way they have,” he said.
The Red and Blue sit at 5-3 in Ivy contests and will play a crucial four-game set at Princeton this weekend as they look to win the Lou Gehrig Division — something the Quakers never did during Glenn and Montaldo’s tenure.
“Ivy League play is tough; a lot of young talent has stepped up. It’s great to look at the box score and see those guys succeed the way they have,” Glenn said, singling out the success of pitchers Billy Lescher and Gabe Kleiman. “They’ve really found a way to win ballgames. They’re in a good spot right now.”
If Glenn continues to distinguish himself, his next steps along the Angels’ minor league ladder will likely be Advanced-A Inland Empire (CA), followed by Double-A Arkansas. As a versatile lefty — capable of either starting or relieving — his high ceiling belies his late-round draft slot.
But even as he works his way to the game’s ultimate stage, Glenn is quick to reminisce about his formative years at Penn.
“The guys on the team, the senior class I graduated with, they were just so fun to be around. The bus rides, the locker-room talk, the off-the field bonding ... those guys were my best friends.
“We really shared something during college that you just don’t find anywhere else.”
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