BELOIT, WI - Dealing with failure and mistakes is part of life for every athlete. Regardless of the sport, regardless of the level, every athlete is going to deal with a situation where they messed up. Across all sports, no game is more humbling than baseball. This is something Seth Streich knows all about. The Snappers starting pitcher has experienced his fair share of highs and lows in baseball. What's made him into the player he is now is how he dealt with mistakes and used them to get better. "I learned from mistakes," he said, "more than I learned from success."
Like most kids who start playing baseball at a young age, Seth Streich always had the ambition to play pro ball. Streich grew up in a family where sports were always a part of things, especially baseball. "I have two older brothers who both played the game at a young age," he said. "It's kind of a running joke in our family that we come into the world with a ball and a bat in our hands." One of those older brothers is a former Snapper. Tobias Streich played in Beloit in 2010 and 2011 after being taken in the fifth round of the 2009 draft by the Minnesota Twins. Seth, meanwhile, was showing that he might have the talent to follow the same path.
At Johnsonburg High School in Johnsonburg, PA, Seth Streich established himself as a devastating two-way player. In his sophomore year, Streich batted .449 with eight homers and had a 7-1 record and a 1.45 ERA. One season later, he hit .475 and pitched to a 2.85 mark. "I think I hit more in high school than I pitched," he said. "Even going into college, I was recruited as a two-way guy." The college that would be receiving Seth's services would be Ohio University. College would prove to be an enormous learning experience.
When Streich arrived at Ohio, he was excited about playing for a coaching staff that he felt would really be able to help his game. "What really was the deciding factor [in picking a college] was the coaching staff at Ohio," he said. "[Their coach] was a real old-school guy and they had a young pitching coach. I looked up to them immediately." Seth's first year with the Bobcats didn't exactly go smoothly, however. He did bat .317 with five homers, but as a pitcher, he posted a 7.82 ERA with a 2-5 record. It was a season that definitely took a toll on his psyche. Even as he dealt with this, Streich also used it as an opportunity to get better. "I picked up a good work ethic after my freshman year," he said, "when I was on the fence about whether or not I should come back. It was a rough year for me being away from home. I didn't know how to deal with failing because you go from high school where you're top dog, to college and you're just a little fish again and you have to start all over. I think I learned more during my years in college from failure because if you look at my stats, I did not have the type of year that people with pro potential have in college." Seth returned to the team for his sophomore year and showed himself to be a completely different pitcher. He lowered his ERA by almost four runs to an even 4.00 and struck out 80 in 96.2 innings. It was a huge step forward for the young right-hander.
Streich followed up his sophomore year with another solid season as a junior. Soon after, the day of the 2012 MLB Draft arrived, which would prove to be very special day for Seth. "My girlfriend, my roommates and I were all sitting in my room and we were watching the draft," he said. "I was getting calls in the fifth round by a couple other teams." While there were several teams Seth had talked to, it was a team that hadn't contacted him that ended up drafting him. "The A's called out of nowhere," he said. "I had no pre-draft communication with them. I was totally surprised." Despite having another year of eligibility remaining, Streich felt like the time was right for a fresh start. "It was a pretty easy decision [to sign]," he said. "I sat back and thought about it as much as I could. Looking at the opportunities you have, it was just time to move on, start over again." Seth Streich would be joining the pro ranks. "It didn't set in until later that night when I was out to dinner," he said. "I was just like 'We did it! This is another start, it's another opportunity.' It's just funny looking back on where I was to where I am now, it's pretty special."
Streich's first days in the Oakland Athletics organization were not without anxiety. "When we first landed in Arizona," he said, "I got in the lockerroom and I was a little bit overwhelmed by everything that was going on around me. There are people who don't speak the same language as I do. It was kind of like going back to my freshman year of college and just getting thrown into everything. I remember sitting there like, 'Man, what'd I get myself into.'" Streich soon settled in and, after a short stint in Arizona, was promoted to the Vermont Lake Monsters in the New York-Penn League. The righty continued honing his craft there with help from the club's skipper. "Playing in Vermont was a great experience under Rick Magnante," said Streich. "He was an awesome skipper to have in my first year to ease into the lifestyle of pro baseball. I learned a lot from him." Seth's season proved to be a successful one, as he went 4-1 with a 2.65 ERA in 17 games between Arizona and Vermont. He also struck out 48 in 37.1 innings. He also gained a lot of knowledge about developing good work habits, invaluable information for a young player trying to survive in a new environment. "Some of the things I took away are just developing good habits," he said, "because you do some things every day and you have to stay disciplined. I learned discipline and hard work and about the daily grind of it all. You have to understand that you need to embrace the grind or it's just going to eat you up and spit you out."
For the 2013 season, Streich's target was long season ball in Beloit. "I was definitely hoping that I was going to get the chance to play a full season." He got his wish and hit the ground running with the Snappers, earning his team's first win of the year on April 5th with five scoreless innings. Unfortunately, the first two months of the season proved to be tough for Streich. He would mix good starts with mediocre ones with a couple of really difficult outings. "The first half was really up-and-down for me," he said. "I was riding the emotional roller coaster. I was going with the ups and downs. If I had good start, I'd be a little higher than I should've been and if I had a bad start, I'd be a little lower than I should've been. It sounds cliché, but you have to stay low during the highs and high during the lows to stay on an even keel." During some of the rough times, Streich was able to draw on some the experiences he had during his college days. "If you have a bad game," he said, "you can always go back and look at how you managed it and how you might manage it differently now that you're older and more mature. It gives you something to look back on and learn from."
After enduring some difficult times in his first two months in full season baseball, Seth Streich found a groove in June and turned into one of the best pitchers in the Midwest League. In that month, Seth's record was 4-2 and his ERA was an outstanding 1.54. In six starts, he never allowed more than two earned runs and totaled 32 strikeouts in 35 innings. This stretch included a start against Peoria in which he threw seven scoreless innings and struck out six in a 5-1 victory. That performance earned him Midwest League Pitcher of the Week Honors. He's continued pitching well into July and has totaled up ten wins on the season.. "It's more of a collective thing," he said. "It didn't happen all at once. Each start I'm learning something different that I might be missing. I'm filling myself with positive thoughts instead of the negative thoughts that tend to creep in sometimes. Overall, I think it's simple, just constantly telling myself to take it one pitch at a time."
Seth Streich's baseball career hasn't always been easy. He's encountered more rough patches along the way than a lot of other pro ballplayers have dealt with. While these may have been trying times, he's better for all that he's been through. Without it, he might not be where he is today. "I didn't really have a successful college career," he said. "I was just fortunate enough to be blessed with this opportunity."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.