Locals get first taste of big leagues

Spring training experience leaves them wanting more

slynch@mercedsunstar.comApril 5, 2013 

Bradin Hagens said it was a moment he's never going to forget.

The former Merced College ace got his first taste of spring training with a one-inning outing for the Arizona Diamondbacks at the end of February.

The 23-year-old right-hander surrendered a hit and then sat the next three guys down in order.

It was the only spring work Hagens got with the big league club, but the experience left him longing for more.

"It was pretty crazy," Hagens said. "You don't even realize how much adrenaline you have until get back to the dugout and you can't get your hands to stop shaking.

"It was pretty nice getting out there and playing in front of a big crowd like that. The entire environment was awesome.

"I think I was the most nervous while I was warming up in the bullpen. Once I got out on the mound, I forced myself to calm down."

Hagens was one of three minor leaguers with local ties that got a little taste of spring training this year.

Former Buhach Colony catcher Jake Jefferies got six spring at-bats with the rebuilding Miami Marlins. Jefferies went hitless, but drew a walk, scored a run and picked up an RBI.

Former Merced High and Merced College star Curtis Partch got the most extensive look, pitching in six games for the Cincinnati Reds.

It wasn't the greatest statistical showing with an ERA on 9.00, but Partch struck out eight in seven innings and took a lot away from the experience.

"It was a lot of fun," said Partch, who was added to the Reds' 40-man roster after an All-Star showing in the Arizona Fall League. "It kind of sucks when you have to go back to reality, but I enjoyed every second I was there. I got to face a lot of big league guys, that was probably the part I enjoyed the most.

"I've always known that I had the stuff to pitch in the majors, it's just about learning to use it properly. It felt like this was another step towards that. If I keep working hard and progressing, it's feeling more like I could get there soon."

The trio joins six other local players that are set to embark on another minor league campaign in 2013.

Eddie Gamboa (Baltimore), Cody Martin (Atlanta) and Jake Sisco will all be looking to continue their advancement up the ranks. Shawn Stuart (Colorado), Dylan Floro (Tampa Bay) and Brett Mooneyham (Washington) will all be competing in their first full season after getting drafted last June.

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