After sitting down and speaking with IronBirds players and coaches, one theme remains constant: Humility. Every word spoken and every handshake given has the best intention. These individuals are professional baseball players, with professional being the key word. Some might say these guys are wasting their time, that they will never make it to the big show. Others, such as those of us who know these players behind the scenes, see things very differently.
The 2013 Aberdeen IronBirds roster is full of quality guys whose goals are similar. They want to continue to harness their potential and develop their craft on the field. While off the field, these young men eagerly await any and all opportunities to interact with fans. They realize there is more to the game than the action on the field and exemplify extraordinary development behind the scenes.
After sitting down with IronBirds' Pitcher Harry Marino, all of the aforementioned opinions rang true. This is a young man who already experienced free agency after one year in the minors. After spending one year in the Arizona Diamondbacks, Marino's phone rang with a few other teams that were interested.
"I worked out for the Royals and spoke with the Nationals and Orioles. Luckily, it worked out with the Orioles and they brought me in to sign a contract and I couldn't be happier to be here" replied Marino.
Looking back at his stat line from his time in the Arizona League, it is easy to see why other teams made it a point to reach out to Marino. He went 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in 17 and one third innings pitched. He struck out 19 batters and only walked 10. These are intriguing stats if you are a baseball scout. Here is a kid with upside and has shown quality command on the mound in limited action. In signing Marino, the Orioles acquired a young man with tremendous potential.
Marino signed with the Diamondbacks as an undrafted free agent in 2012. He pitched for Williams College, a Division III school in Williamstown, Massachusetts. One of Harry's favorite baseball memories occurred in the last game he ever pitched for the team. He threw the first no-hitter in more than 20 years at the school.
"It was a great game. It was the last home start for me in college and Williams is a place that is near and dear to my heart after four years there. To leave on that kind of a high note was a special day for me. My younger brother is on the team currently, so to have him and my parents there in the stands made for a great day all around" he said.
Marino shows exceptional character even under the spotlight. Not once will anyone question his integrity. In light of all his successes, he relishes the opportunity to prove himself on a big stage.
"I'm just grateful to be here. My whole life I've played baseball and then for a couple of months in the offseason it was up in the air for me. That has left me with a better perspective, I think, on how lucky I am to be playing this game. It can be over on any day and it's not necessarily a reflection of how you do" said Marino.
As genuine as Marino is in interviews, he transitions into a deceptive mode when he steps onto the mound. His fastball tops off in the Mid-80s, but the breaking ball is his bread and butter. Harry bends his pitch with precision, especially to left-handed batters. His curveball has dropped in at 69 miles per hour on more than one occasion.
Since he arrived in Aberdeen, Marino has stepped into tough situations and risen to the occasion and beyond. The season is young, but Marino is constantly maturing.
"It's all about being consistent day in and day out and bringing that same level of focus and intensity to the field every day. In baseball, especially as a pitcher, you only make so many throws and only spend so much time doing your work. The most important thing is to be focused on efficiency while you're working" said Harry.
After speaking with Harry Marino, it is safe to say that the IronBirds are grateful to have his presence in the clubhouse. They are even more excited to see him jog out to the mound each time his number is called. He is honored to wear number 18 for the IronBirds.
"It's been great! It has blown my expectations away in terms of what minor league baseball can be. It's been great and an awesome experience so far" said Marino.
For now, Marino continues to push himself on and off the field. There is no room to question his character, but there is ample space to wonder about how high he can go. Harry Marino is an extraordinary guy to speak to and, if he keeps this up, will be a joy to watch on the mound all the way up to the majors.
(Photo Credit: Bob Rinker/Aberdeen IronBirds)