Former Red embraces each moment with Otters

Photo by JImmy Lafakis/The Herald
Vinny Santarsiero (17) recently joined Austin Gossmann in going from the Jasper Reds to the Evansville Otters.

By JIMMY LAFAKIS
jlafakis@dcherald.com

EVANSVILLE — The “Superman” series depicts Clark Kent as a humble journalist for the fictitious “Daily Planet” newspaper. Kent is mild-mannered in the comics and motion pictures, but he breaks out of his shell when he tears open his shirt and transforms into Superman.

Vinny Santarsiero has the chance to play a similar role. Santarsiero suited up as a pitcher for the Jasper Reds earlier this summer, but he signed with the Evansville Otters last week. He works for TRH Mortgage in Evansville during the day and pitches for the Frontier League club in the evenings.

“Mortgage broker by day, ballplayer by night,” Santarsiero said with a chuckle.

The new opportunity gives Santarsiero a chance to fulfill two of his passions in the same city. He pitched for the Reds in their season opener against Hoosier Townball in Jasper, but a rainout prevented him from recording any official stats.

The last few weeks have certainly been a bit hectic for Santarsiero, but Reds business manager Bob Alles encouraged him to pursue his chance with the Otters.

“It’s kind of a no-brainer to try it,” Alles said.

Santarsiero worked his way to the Double-A level in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. His demeanor and velocity give him an edge on the mound.

“It’s the way he carries himself,” Reds manager Bill Alles said. “You can tell that he’s got a lot of experience. He’s been around. He knows what he’s doing out there. You can tell that he’s had a lot of coaching. Things don’t seem to shake him up. He goes with the flow, which is what you want out of a pitcher.”

He joins former Red Austin Gossmann, who also signed with the Otters earlier this month. Bob, who is in his 49th season with the Reds, said they’ve never had two players signed with the Otters in such a short span.

“It’s good for our other guys to see that,” Bob said. “It’s like, ‘Hey, people can come out of this and go somewhere.’ For certain guys, that’s their dream.”

Last summer, Santarsiero struck out four batters in two innings against the Owensboro (Ky.) Bombers. He heeded Bill and Bob’s advice during his lone appearance for the Reds.

“They just told me to go out there and throw strikes,” Santarsiero said. “There’s not much better advice than, ‘Throw strikes.’ ”

Santarsiero struck out three batters and posted a 2.45 ERA in a 7-5 win over the Windy City ThunderBolts on Friday. He is learning the ropes of Independent baseball while staying true to what he knows.

“The biggest thing is just having confidence in what you’re throwing,” Santarsiero said. “I’m a big guy, and I probably throw harder than the average person. The biggest thing, whether you’re 5’8” or 6’8”, is going out there with confidence in your pitches and executing them.”

A sizable fan club came out to support Santarsiero in his first outing. He estimated that 150 members of his friends and family made the trip to Bosse Field. Their fervent support helped him overcome his nerves.

“After you get some weak contact and see them miss a few fastballs, you get a little bit more confidence with every pitch,” Santarsiero said.

Right now, flexibility is key for Santarsiero. He is unsure about pitching in the big leagues, but the past month has taught him to keep his options open.

“If something crazy were to happen, I’d jump at the chance,” Santarsiero said. “It’s just fun to be able to go out there and compete.”

Ultimately, Santarsiero aims to make a difference in all of his ventures. The baseball diamond provides a peaceful place.

“Obviously, with baseball, a lot of people are looking up to you,” Santarsiero said. “You really enjoy being able to make an impact in people’s lives.”

Whether he’s pumping fastballs past hitters or educating customers about the mortgage industry, Santarsiero is prepared for the tasks at hand.

“We feel really good for him,” Bill said. “He’s a hardworking guy, and I think it will turn out all right for him. I think he will do a good job for them.”




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