Since being made the 12th-round selection of the San Diego Padres in the Major League Baseball amateur draft June 14, Tom Cosgrove has tried to keep up with his new life as a professional player.
The former Manhattan College lefthander, who led the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in strikeouts this past season, left his Staten Island home shortly after the celebration parties died down and immediately got down to business.
That included a trip out west to meet with Padres brass, getting poked and probed by team doctors, and learning how to do things the “Padres’ Way” with his new team, the Arizona League Padres.
“I flew out to Arizona where they have their spring training facility and I signed my contract,” said Cosgrove, whose 105 strikeouts in the 2017 season tied the Manhattan school record. “I took all my physicals, and then there were a lot of meetings with the pitching coordinators and them telling us about how they do things here. Then we finally had some team practices, and the season finally started about four days ago. I’m here with the rest of the kids who got drafted.”
Cosgrove adapted quickly to his new environment, but said the first case of nerves came last week when he sat in the Padres bullpen and the phone rang. It was time for Cosgrove to begin his career — for real.
“I had a pretty good idea that I was going to come in at some point that day,” Cosgrove said. “But I was a little nervous in the bullpen getting ready. You’re always more nervous before your first time doing something new. But once I was on the mound and I started working, it was just like any other game.”
Cosgrove stuck to his basic philosophy, which made him one of the best pitchers in Jaspers’ history.
“I prepared pretty well to get here, so I had to just pitch as I usually do, and just throw strikes,” Cosgrove said. “I just tried to fill up the (strike) zone and tried to get outs as quickly as possible. It worked out pretty well.”
Did it ever. In his first professional appearance, Cosgrove worked two-and-a-third innings in relief, facing eight batters. He allowed just one hit, didn’t walk a batter, and struck out three.
A very impressive first step as he chases his baseball dream.
“I was all right once I got on the mound and settled in,” Cosgrove said. “I was pretty happy with my performance.”
One who didn’t get to see Cosgrove’s initial foray into pro ball was his father, Tom Sr. The elder Cosgrove made the trip to Arizona with his son when he signed his contract, but left the day before Cosgrove was handed the ball for the first time.
“He went home right before I got to pitch,” Cosgrove said with a laugh. “He wasn’t too happy about that.”
Cosgrove hears from his former Jaspers teammates and coaches often. That continued contact has been a source of strength for him in his new home of Peoria, some 2,400 miles from his more recent home.
“I speak with (Jaspers catcher) Fabian Peña a lot. We talk pretty much everyday,” Cosgrove said. “Me and him have a great relationship, so we’ve been talking a lot. So I’ve had a lot of support from my teammates and coaches.”
So until the phone rings again in the Padres bullpen and he’s called upon to get some more outs, Cosgrove will continue to work with his new coaches, absorb all he can about what it takes to make his dream come true, and become more accustomed to his new life. And who knows, with continued success there may be another move or two up the minor league chain for Cosgrove before the season is done in early September.
“In the beginning I just didn’t know what was really going on, so you just kind of have to adapt at what’s getting thrown at you,” Cosgrove said. “You just got to get comfortable, and I’m comfortable now, and everything’s going well. The other kids on the team are great and this has been a great experience.
“I haven’t been told much, but I don’t care. I’ll pitch anywhere. If they tell me to pitch, I’ll pitch. It’s no big deal.”