By Bill McCaughey
For the Fort Bend Star
On May 15, the Skeeters acquired Kevin Ahrens in a trade with Lancaster. Ahrens quickly took over the shortstop job and from the clean-up slot is leading the team in runs-batted-in. It has been an up-and-down journey since he left Memorial High School (Houston) ten years ago. But he would do it all over again, if he had the chance.
“I may not have reached my career goal of playing in the major leagues, but I have had a fun time. My first year in Lansing, Michigan I met my wife.
If I had not been drafted and gone to college, I would not have met her. We now have a five-and-a-half-month-old boy,” Ahrens said. “So, it has worked out great. When you have a family, you look at baseball differently, but I enjoy going out there every day and playing.”
In June 2007, the Toronto Blue Jays selected Ahrens out of Memorial High School with the sixteenth pick in the first round. “It was a very special moment for my family and me. To get to celebrate it with my mother, father and brother was really special,” Ahrens said. “I didn’t know who was going to pick me, but I thought I had a good shot at going high. Fortunately, I was able to be selected in the first round, along with a lot of great players.”
Ahrens, a switch-hitting shortstop in high school, played a few games at shortstop before switching to third base.
He spent five years in Class A and High A before moving up to Class AA New Hampshire in 2013. “I got stuck in High A for a long time, before I got moved up to AA. But at that point, I wasn’t getting to play every day,” Ahrens said. “It was a little frustrating, but I am thankful I got to play with a lot of great guys who are in the big leagues. It’s been fun to pick their brains over the years and be able to talk with them.”
In 2015, Ahrens joined the Atlanta organization at AA Mississippi. After a season there, Ahrens joined the Lancaster Barnstormers, and was traded to the Skeeters in May. “I wasn’t really happy with Lancaster. I wasn’t getting to play every day. At the end of last season, I heard there might be an opportunity with the Skeeters, and I was able to work it out with Gary (Gaetti). Sugar Land is close to where I grew up and I thought I could come over here and help the Skeeters win.”
“I got to know Gary last season while playing against him, and had heard nothing but good things about him,” Ahrens said. “With him being a player in the big leagues for 20 years is really cool. Just to hear him talk about baseball is great. We all try to pick his brain about the game. It’s been a good time over here.”
Ahrens would like to play a few more years but some days his body reminds him he is getting older. “I would like to keep playing as long as my body will let me,” Ahrens said. “I would like to play at least four or five more seasons so my son will get the chance to see me play.”
Ahrens doesn’t spend much time thinking about when his playing days are over. “I haven’t thought much about coaching, but I have been in professional baseball for over ten years and I have learned a lot about the game. Coaching may be a possibility,” Ahrens said.
“Baseball is a game built on confidence. If you lose your confidence, the game can play tricks with your mind. Some days, you have to convince yourself that you are the best player on the field. You have to go up there and take your A swing. If you hit balls hard, you are more than likely going to get some hits,” Ahrens said, sounding just like a coach.
Skeeters’ manager Gary Gaetti was selected to manage the Freedom Division all-star team in the Atlantic League All-Star game to be played on July 12th in Somerset. This will be the second time Gaetti has managed in the Atlantic League all-star game, the first being in 2014 when the game was held in Sugar Land. Gaetti has a record of 381-318 in five years with the Skeeters.
Last week, the Skeeters were 1-5. Last Monday, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs beat the Skeeters 6-2. The Blue Crabs continued their winning streak by beating the Skeeters 3-2 on Tuesday, and 9-4 on Wednesday. The Skeeters won the opening game of the series with Bridgeport last Friday 2-1, but lost the next two games by scores of 7-4 and 7-6.
Anthony Giansanti, .313 leads the Skeeters in batting average, with Kevin Ahrens leading the team with 30 runs-batted-in.
Brett Marshall leads the Skeeters’ starting pitchers with a 5-2 record and 4.85 earned run average. Jake Hale is 4-1 with a 2.65 earned run average. Felipe Paulino has 6 saves with a 2.25 earned run average.
The Skeeters will play a four game series at New Britain before they return home on Friday June 23 for a seven-game homestand with the Long Island Ducks. The Ducks are 28-28 and in third place in the Liberty Division.
Friday night’s game will be followed by fireworks. Saturday is Parrot head night. Jerry Diaz and Hanna’s Reef will perform after the game. At Sunday’s game, fans will receive a replica championship flag. Monday June 26 is Margarita Monday and Dollar Dog Monday, and Tuesday June 27 is two for Tuesday.
Infielder Andy Wilkins signed a contract with the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Double A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. Wilkins was leading the Atlantic League in homeruns with 13, and had a .318 batting average.
The Skeeters have signed Johan Limonta, Dane De La Rosa, Manuel Corpas and Joel Guzman. Corpas and De La Rosa are right-handed pitchers, and Guzman is a right-handed infielder, and Limonta is a left-handed outfielder.
Skeeter of the Week
Catcher Wilfredo Rodriguez is the Skeeter of the week. During the last week, Rodriguez’s batting average was .391 with1 home run and 2 RBI’s.