Manager Patrick Osborn has made the jump in the minor leagues with a few of his former players.
After managing Class-A (Short Season) Staten Island, he enters his first year leading the High-A ballclub.
“The number of games is the main change, 70 verses 140, and guys are older here. I was lucky I spent my first three seasons in Atlantic League. There’s ups and downs that I’m used to and I hope to help get these guys through them,” Osborn said before Tampa’s home opener against the Lakeland Flying Tigers. The team eventually won 7-1.
Osborn, 33, was a third baseman and a career minor leaguer, who played in the Cleveland Indians system from 2002-2007. He managed the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the independent Atlantic League in 2011.
Tampa’s roster boasts an impressive rotation, with Ian Clarkin and James Kaprielian, who was with Osborn in Staten Island in 2015, and is among the top starters for the team. Osborn also points out that another of his pitchers last year, Chance Adams is entering an important career season.
“[RHP] Chance Adams moved quick to [Class-A ] Charleston last year. He was a fifth round pick last year. But he was a back end reliever, who’d come in and go one inning. This year he’s going to start,” Osborn said. “The Yankees brought him into instructs and told him. And he’s really taken to it. He has an electric fastball, a really good breaking ball, changeup. He can hold his velocity over five innings. He’s been a sprint runner not a marathon guy. So it’ll be a challenge for him.”
“No matter who we have out there, we have a chance to win,” Osborn continued “It’s a fun group to be around. They’re talented players, good kids. Hopefully we go about everything the right way and move them on out of here.”
Ian Clarkin’s First Start A (No-Decision) Gem
Ian Clarkin’s command and use of an effective mix of pitches kept Lakeland hitters guessing (and swinging) in the home opener.
The lefty went five innings, allowing an early run, and looking uneasy in the first inning. But he shook off what might have just been first start jitters. For the rest of the outing, Clarkin’s confidence seemed to grow with each hitter. He was able to keep them off balance with a mid-70’s curveball and a 90 mph fastball that he neither relied on or shied away from using. He didn’t fear contact, going up and in on hitters and inducing swings, as well as putting his infield to work to get a number of ground ball outs.
Clarkin allowed just the one run on 4 hits, and no walks. He also notched five strikeouts.
Catcher Wes Wilson was announced as a roster addition just two hours before Friday’s game. Francisco Diaz was promoted to Double-A Trenton. When asked where Wes was originally schedule to play, Osborn explained it was going to be dependent on addition by subtraction. “Wes was held back in the extended Spring Training group. He was basically waiting for this type of situation, where someone higher in food chain goes down, and a spot opened for him.”…. Zach Zehner is another player who spent 2015 in Staten Island. He had a rough night coming up empty in four plate appearances…Top Yankees prospect Jorge Mateo also struggled to hit a trio of Lakeland pitchers, going 0-4 with an error. Still, he was integral to Clarkin’s success that night, making a few tough plays to first…Daniel Camerena pitched 3 innings for the win, giving up a hit and striking out one batter.