Tim Locastro is embracing a brisker tempo as he begins his professional career with the Bluefield Blue Jays. The middle infielder out of Division III Ithaca College has been off and running at a pretty good clip in the Appalachian League.
"Everything is a little faster pace," Locastro said.
Locastro has shown the ability to stay up to speed, producing a .328 batting average through 20 games, including a four-hit performance July 10 in Burlington. He's also stolen seven bases in eight attempts and walked seven times while only striking out four.
He said he knows he has work to do to show that he belongs at this level after excelling at a non-scholarship program in college. But when Toronto picked Locastro in the 13th round of June's Draft, he said he felt ready to make the next step.
"I would've been happy anywhere," he said of the selection. "Knowing we were so good at Ithaca [in 2013 and potentially 2014], this was a better choice. Going as a junior was the best choice."
Bluefield manager Dennis Holmberg said Locastro, who has been successful on seven of eight stolen-base attempts, is raw in many areas. But the rookie has shown tools that could bode well for the future.
"The one thing he can really do is run," Holmberg said. "He runs very well. He's a hungry kid. He has desire and fire to play. He's just got to get hands-on with the roving coaches and fine-tune his skill set."
Playing a college season for a school in Upstate New York has its challenges. So when Locastro, who's from Auburn, N.Y., arrived in the Appalachian League and was suddenly involved in a string of postponements and weather-related delays, he knew the drill.
"The weather, it's raining all the time, but I'm used to that," he said. "We always had delays. I'm used to this kind of stuff."
Ithaca placed third in this year's Division III College World Series. Playing so deep into the postseason meant a reduced layoff between Ithaca's season and the Draft, something Locastro said may actually be beneficial. Still, there are several areas of adjustment for him. He played as Ithaca's shortstop, but he's mostly slotted into the other side of infield with Bluefield.
"I've been playing second here," he said. "Just having a different view from the other side of the infield, so I'm still adjusting a little bit."
When Locastro joined the Blue Jays organization, it wasn't the first time he had come across Holmberg. Locastro attended youth camps conducted by his hometown's Minor League team when Holmberg was the manager of the New York-Penn League's Auburn Doubledays, then a Toronto affiliate.
Holmberg said he likes Locastro's versatility so far.
"He has a good attitude, a good makeup," he said.
Holmberg said, in general, scouts are working harder beyond the first few rounds and at colleges of various sizes "to find these sleeper guys."
On a roll: Rain put a temporary hold on a franchise-record 10-game winning streak for the Greeneville Astros, who will finish Monday's suspension on Aug. 12 in Johnson City. In the meantime, the Astros made it 11 straight with a 5-4 win over the Cardinals on Tuesday, their fifth one-run victory since the streak began.
Battering an ex-mate: Pulaski Mariners infielder Zach Shank produced a pair of RBI triples Sunday against Burlington Royals starter Kevin McCarthy, his Marist College teammate as recently as May. "I've been struggling a little bit offensively," Shank said. "I don't really care who it's against at this point, but I'll take a little bragging rights."
Coming in bunches: Johnson City second baseman Brett Wiley racked up half of his league-high 24 RBIs over an eight-game period from July 12-20. He had only 16 RBIs over 40 games last season in the Gulf Coast League.