Michael Fransoso just needed to blow off some steam when he had yet to be selected on the third day of last month's Draft, so he decided to go out and shoot nine holes of golf and get away from it all.
He didn't make it to the first tee box before his phone started blowing up with congratulatory text messages. Then came the call from Chris Kline, area scouting supervisor for the Pirates, letting Fransoso know Pittsburgh had just selected him in the 27th round, No. 809 overall.
"I was getting very anxious," said Fransoso. "You're told you can go anywhere from the seventh to 30th round, so you just have to trust it will happen at some point. I just needed to get away for a bit."
In three of his four seasons at the University of Maine, Fransoso played in all of the team's 56 games and showed a patience at the plate and aggressiveness on the bases that Pittsburgh was looking for.
The 2013 America East Player of the Year, Fransoso batted over .300 and scored 40 or more runs each year with the Black Bears while drawing 98 walks and stealing 74 bases during his collegiate career.
According to the Pirates front office, Fransoso's tools made him a prime target for the organization based on their analytical models.
"From a statistical standpoint, he has shown to be better than average defensively at shortstop as a starter in College," said Larry Broadway, Pirates Dirctor of Minor League Operations, as to part of the reason why Fransoso fits the team's analytical model. "He has continued to show that early in his professional career with the Jamestown club."
His discipline has carried over into his professional debut, making Fransoso stand out in the early going of the season as one of the Jamestown Jammers' better offensive weapons.
In 15 games, the shortstop has a .326/.492/.391 split with 10 runs scored, five stolen bases and 14 walks.
"It's a work in progress," said Fransoso on adjustments at the next level. "Pitching is a bigger jump, and each team has different philosophies for their pitchers on this level, so things change each game based on how a certain team wants their pitchers to throw, not so much how they want to throw to you."
On top of a full college career, Fransoso credits three summers of wood bat experience in the New England Collegiate Baseball League and Cape Cod League as a factor in helping him get ready for pro ball.
"You're playing against the top competition every night with no breaks," said Fransoso. "It made me a better hitter and made it easier to adjust."
Now that it's all coming together with some early returns, it will be a matter of sticking to the tried-and-true measure of playing to your strengths, something that all are well aware of.
"You have to use your strengths to your advantage," said Fransoso. "It's all about getting on base any way you can, then putting pressure on the other team's pitcher, make him make mistakes while benefiting our guy at the plate."
That approach is evident in his statistics, but he still wants to work on all aspects of his game, particularly driving the ball to the opposite field and taking an advanced approach when batting with two strikes, as well as learning what to make of his new career in life.
"It's all starting to sink in that this is my job," said Fransoso. "Now I just have to show up and be ready, but also keep in mind that this is a game that we've been playing since we were kids. So just have fun and do your business."
That day on the golf course he did his business as well, shooting a 39 while more importantly having fun.
Taking a big bite: Tri-City ValleyCats right-hander Mark Appel, the No. 1 selection in the 2013 Draft, will make his highly anticipated professional debut at home Friday night against the Lowell Spinners. After choosing to return to Stanford for his senior season despite being selected No. 8 overall in 2012, Appel signed with the Astros last month and received a bonus of $6.35 million. He will be the first top overall pick to play in the New York-Penn League since 2008 when Tampa Bay's Tim Beckham appeared in two games with Hudson Valley.
Cutting into the lead: The Williamsport Crosscutters as a team have 65 RBIs over their first 16 games and a three-headed attack has accounted for nearly half that number. Zach Green (13 RBIs), Gabriel Lino (11) and Logan Pierce (8) have contributed 49 percent of the team's run production through Wednesday, helping the Crosscutters to an 8-7 mark.
Putting the 'K' in Brooklyn: The Cyclones pitching staff has jumped out to an early lead in team strikeouts, fanning 148 batters through their first 16 games. They are averaging 9.3 strikeouts per game, evoking memories of the 2008 staff that averaged 10 strikeouts per game for an entire season. The last four teams to lead in the strikeouts for a season averaged 8.8.