Roenicke moves to double A
When coming up through the ranks of the minor leagues, the jump from single A to double A can sometimes be the toughest.
When it comes to 2001 Nevada Union graduate Josh Roenicke, however, the move was made just this week.
Roenicke, who plays in the Cincinnati Reds’ organization, appeared in the Florida State League All-Star game last week, then returned to record his 16th save of the season during the single-A Sarasota Reds’ first game back after the All-Star break.
Roenicke pitched one inning and gave up no hits, no runs, no walks and struck out one in his last appearance at the single A level. He finished his season there with a 3.25 ERA.
Then Roenicke learned he was headed for the double-A Chattanooga Lookouts in Tennessee.
“We heard the buzz in the locker room that some of us may get called up,” Roenicke said in a phone interview. “As it turns out, five of us were called up to double-A.”
The fact that there weren’t any major injuries or shifts in the organization to facilitate the move means it was most likely a performance-based promotion.
The promotion means Roenicke met his goals within the first half of the season.
“I wanted to be in double-A by the end of the year,” Roenicke said. “The fact that I’m there already, I’m surprised it was that quick.
“But I knew the organization wanted to move me up as quick as possible. I was just hoping to get the opportunity.”
Josh was told his role won’t change – he’s still the team’s closer. The team of players that had been closing out games for Chattanooga have struggled, Roenicke said. That leaves the door open for him to finish up when his team is winning a close game.
“I was told that if we’re in the lead, I’ll be coming in,” Roenicke said.
Josh’s father, Gary Roenicke, said the organization knows who Josh is and what he brings to the team.
“He got the promotion for doing a good job,” Gary said. “There are typically two big hurdles – from single A to double A and from triple A to the majors. Getting to triple-A is big because he gets to face a lot of veteran guys, but there aren’t a lot of prospects at that level. At double-A, he’ll face a lot of good prospects.”
Gary said many of the players at the triple-A level are veterans who need some work out of the spotlight, where double-A ball typically means younger players who haven’t seen any action in the Major Leagues.
Gary said that if Josh doesn’t land in the Majors this year, he may be chosen to play for the Team USA squad. A stint at the Major-League level would mean Josh is no longer eligible.
“The manager in the Major Leagues (Jerry Narron) knows all about (Josh),” Gary said. “Other scouts have had great reports. There’s talk of him moving up pretty quickly.”
Josh isn’t convinced a call to “The Show” will come this year – but isn’t saying it’s impossible, either.
“No,” Josh said. “I hope so, but I don’t see it happening. I know a couple guys up there are struggling, and it would sure be nice, but I’m so young as a pitcher … but it would be nice.”
The path to professional baseball has been an interesting one for Josh, who played football and baseball at UCLA. According to his father, Josh was both the starting center fielder and the closer for the Bruins.
If he’d had a choice, Josh may have preferred to continue his career as a center fielder and have the opportunity to play every day. However, “He didn’t hit well enough to catch the scouts’ eyes,” Gary said.
So, with just two innings of college pitching under his belt, Josh entered his final college season without much experience.
“This is really his first full season of pitching,” Gary said.
Josh and Gary may have been a little concerned that heading into the minor league system at age 24 was too late of a start, but those worries have subsided.
“There’s guys out there now pitching well into their 40s,” Gary said. “So age isn’t that big anymore. Most are looking for a fresh arm.”
Josh showed he’s ready. During his debut with the squad on Thursday, Josh pitched the last inning of an 8-3 loss to Birmingham. He threw one inning giving up no hits, no runs, no walks and he struck out two.
He returned to the mound on Friday when the Lookouts went 14 innings in an 8-7 win over Birmingham. Roenicke pitched the 13th giving up no hits, no runs, no walks and striking out one.
Through two innings with his new club, he’s faced the minimum of six batters and struck out half of them.
Here’s a look at how some athletes with local ties fared recently at the college level:
Robby Alcombrack (Bear River, ’06); Gulf Coast League Indians (Cleveland Indians) – The season started Tuesday for the Indians, and Alcombrack was in the lineup as the starting catcher and cleanup hitter both Tuesday and Wednesday, both victories.
Alcombrack was 1-for-4 with 2 RBIs, a walk and two strikeouts during a 5-2 win over the Braves on Wednesday. Tuesday Alcombrack was 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
Alcombrack didn’t play in Thursday’s loss to the Phillies or Saturday’s win over the Tigers. Friday’s game was rained out.
Gary Daley (Nevada Union, ’03); Palm Beach Cardinals (St. Louis Cardinals) – Daley remains on the disabled list and didn’t see any pitching action this week. The Cardinals went 4-2 this week with a rainout on Thursday.
Have we missed anyone? If you know of a college/professional athlete with local ties, please contact Ross Maak via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 477-4244.
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The Nevada Union Junior Miners Football and Cheer teams traveled on Saturday to Casa Roble High School in Orangevale to play the Casa Roble Junior Rams in Sacramento Youth Football League action.