Saturday, August 19, 2006

Fortenberry Adjusting Well To Pro Ball

STATEN ISLAND, NY -One player who has made a positive impact on the first place Baby Bombers this season is left fielder Seth Fortenberry.

One of six Bombers to represent the club at this past Tuesday's All Star Game in Aberdeen, the 22 year-old left fielder has become a steady presence near the top of the order. With plenty of speed which has produced five triples and 10 stolen bases, Fortenberry has mixed in the occasional drag bunt to reach base along with his respectable .287 average, four home runs and 24 RBI's.

Lately, Staten Island skipper Gaylen Pitts has utilized him in either the leadoff or number two role. Something the former Baylor star was accustomed to entering his first season of pro ball.

"In college, I hit two-hole. So I'm really comfortable with two-hole," Fortenberry noted prior to Saturday's game. "I like setting up the game. Kind of like hitting at the top of the order. Get a lot of at bats."

In the Bombers' 4-2 win over Mahoning Valley Saturday night, the Waco Texas native had two hits including an RBI single and a perfect bunt single past the pitcher's mound. Bunting for hits has become a weapon the first-year pro has added to his game.

"I started working on it this past college season," he explained. "I think I had 11, 12 in college and just something I had to add to my repertoire. It's a threat that I can bring. Open up some holes down the line and it's been working well."

In particular, Fortenberry spoke highly of his Baylor experience which helped get him ready for the next level.

"That was great. We're in the Big 12 Conference and that helped a lot preparing us for great competition and great preparation for what it had in store for me. That experience seeing the pitchers in the Big 12 Conference is a lot like seeing what we see not only every starter out there but every pitcher that comes on the mound out there."

The Staten Island starting left fielder credits that kind of experience for his quick adjustment to the NY-Penn League. In particular, he hasn't been fazed by the switch from aluminum bats to wood but did point out one other difference as well.

"A lot of people think the wood bat makes a lot of adjusting," he said. "I used the wood bat this summer and kind of got in a groove with that and gotten used to it. It wasn't quite as big of an adjustment for me. But there's a lot of adjusting as far as pitch selections. That's a big thing at this level."

While he's made a smooth transition, his team finds itself in a tight battle for first in the McNamara Division with archrival Brooklyn. With a win last night, the Bombers moved two games up on them with a key home-and-home coming up starting later today in St. George.

"We've been battling them for most of the year," Fortenberry pointed out. "They got a great club over there. We're just trying to keep pushing forward. [Pitts] always talks about pushing forward, pushing on. Hopefully, we can put a streak together here and hopefully get a few games up. We got them tomorrow and Monday. We got to try to take care of business and add a few games to that lead."

While it's been a solid first year for him, just being drafted by the Yankees in the 11th round of this past June's MLB Draft was something he'll remember.

"It was exciting. Kind of up in the air when the day comes and it's an exciting day when it comes around," he remarked.

"It's exciting and what can you say- it's the Yankees. I was very pumped about that. Great organization. The best. It was a very exciting time."

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