Minor obstacles on road to Majors
Recently graduated Penn pitcher shares about life in the minor leagues after being drafted by Phillies
July 28, 2011, 1:18 am · Updated July 28, 2011, 12:00 am·
Only one out of ten players drafted in the Major League Baseball Draft ever make it to the MLB. Penn pitchers Paul Cusick and Vince Voiro were both selected in the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft last month and hope to someday find themselves on the right side of that statistic.
But while Voiro is currently deciding whether to return for his senior season at Penn — he may be hoping to get drafted higher than his 47th-round selection by the San Diego Padres in next year’s draft — Cusick, picked in the 29th round by the Phillies, is making the most of his month and a half in the minors after graduating.
Cusick has amassed a 2-1 record with a 4.00 earned run average in eight appearances for the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Phillies in Florida. It’s been a quick and challenging turnaround for Cusick, who signed his first pro contract with the Phillies on June 9.
“You come down here and get started right away,” Cusick said of the team’s minicamp schedule. “You get to the ballpark about 7 a.m. every day, stretch, throw, condition and lift weights before the practice starts. It’s hot and you’re outside pretty much from about 8 or 9 [a.m.] till about 3 or 4 [p.m.], so it’s a long hard day and the heat’s starting to get us.”
The heat is not the only obstacle for minor league players this time of year.
For GCL rookie leaguers such as Cusick, the biggest challenge is standing out among teammates and opponents who are suddenly as talented as them.
“Everyone can run, everyone can throw, all the pitchers can throw 90-plus miles per hour, so you know you’re going to see a lot of talent down here,” Cusick said. “Everyone’s working hard and everyone wants to do well, so it’s very competitive.”
One Penn grad has already felt the bite of the intense competition.
Quaker catcher Will Davis was sent home by the GCL Phillies due to injury concerns last month, something that Cusick called a “sober reminder” of the dog-eat-dog nature of the minors.
“It’s cutthroat down here, obviously if you get injured or don’t perform, there’s that chance that they might just drop you and send you home. You just have to go out every day and be happy that you’re put here.”
Cusick got off to a great start in the first game of the season on June 20, coming in to pick up the win in his initial professional appearance on the road against the GCL Tigers.
“I was pumped to get that out of the way,” Cusick said.
After the season is over at the end of August, though, Cusick’s plans are up in the air.
“The Florida Instructional League is used for people who sign real late or were rehabbing injuries during the season and didn’t really throw a lot,” he said. “If I don’t do that, I’ll most likely just be moving back to the Philadelphia area and just working out and trying to get a part-time job in the offseason to help pay rent.”
More than anything else, though, Cusick is still thrilled to be a professional rookie league baseball player in spite of the challenges that come with that status.
“You’re playing baseball every day as a job and it’s a dream come true,” he said. “I can’t complain at all.”