Buried behind the likes of Jesus Montero and Austin Romine at single-A Charleston earlier this season, Brian Baisley was sent to Staten Island after a few injuries caused a need for a catcher there.
"At first it was disappointing coming from Charleston and being how old I am," said the 25-year-old Baisley, "but it's a better situation now than it was in Charleston. I'm getting the opportunity to play everyday and getting the opportunity to get at-bats."
Disappointed maybe, but it has been the first opportunity during his career to play everyday and he's taken full advantage of it. Entering play Saturday night, Baisley was hitting .354 with six homers, 39 RBI's, and a .927 OPS in 46 games for Staten Island.
"In terms of playing time he hasn't had as much as he's needed because he's been hurt so much," Staten Island hitting coach Ty Hawkins said of Baisley's career. "So it's probably the first time he's really had a chance to play on a consistent basis."
It was important for Baisley to get off to a start like this because there isn't a long leash for 25-year-olds playing in a league of mostly 22 and 23-year-olds.
"I definitely had something to prove," Baisley said. "It's my third go around here and I obviously have to prove myself. I have been playing with a chip on my shoulder."
He's older than the rest of the league because Baisley is playing catch-up, thanks to a few injuries he has suffered during his career.
Drafted in 2006 he started his career with the Staten Island Yankees, but didn't see much playing time because more highly touted prospects Francisco Cervelli and Jose Gil were blocking him. He got a break when he was sent to the Gulf Coast League to get regular playing time, but after about 14 games he suffered a leg injury.
Last season he started out on the Staten Island Yankee roster again but was promoted to Charleston before even playing in one game. In 25 games there he got off to a hot-start, hitting .341, but an injury to his quad once again cut his season short.
"Once I got in I was hitting the ball well," Baisley said. "Then unfortunately I actually tore my quad. That affected me for a long time, even into this year."
Baisley had another scare this season when he pulled a hamstring running down to first, but fortunately for him he only missed about a week or two.
"He came up here to help us and to support the catchers," Staten Island manager Pat McMahon said. "He caught in his first start and actually hurt his hamstring running to first base so that is what caused the move to first base where he is seeing the bulk of his playing time now."
The latest injury could have been a blessing in disguise as playing first base has allowed him to stay in the lineup and get consistent playing time. Although if it were up to him he would still be behind the plate.
"First is a lot easier on the body, but there is a lot more down time. You're not really in the game as much as you are when your catching. You're in the game a lot obviously, but when your catching you're going 100 percent the whole game."
Since the injury he has felt good enough to get back behind the plate, but his teammate Mitch Abeita has still seen the majority of the playing time, although coaches say that they won't hesitate to use him when Abeita needs a rest.
"We've been working on a lot of drills with him and he looks ready to go," Staten Island coach Victor Valencia said. "His legs are good now, he feels great. He's been able to do all the catching drills. He's good to go now."
Even though he may like playing behind the plate Baisley says that the fact that he is a first baseman now may have helped him put up the big numbers he has in Staten Island this season.
"I think the big thing is just getting at-bats," Baisley said. "It's tough enough to hit when you play everyday let alone when you take a week off. I think I was on the DL for about 97 days last year and then a few games this year.
"I think a big part is just getting more at-bats and more repetitions, and getting back to a grove and getting back to where I was last year, and playing first has allowed me to stay in there."
Being one of the older players on the teams he's played for has given Baisley an opportunity for on the job coaching training. Since he's older than most players they will often go to him for advice. The time he's spent on the DL has also allowed him to gain a unique perspective that passes by many minor leaguers.
"He's a good leader," said Staten Island shortstop Addison Maruszak. "People are going to follow him because you watch the way he acts and he's clearly a good role model for the people who don't have as much experience. He's always been a person to go to with a question, but it he's also a guy who jokes around and keeps it loose."
Essentially he's received a lot of on the job training in becoming a coach and it is something that Baisley has noticed too.
"I don't know about a mentor exactly," laughed Baisley, "but I definitely help some of them out when or if they come to me. I'd definitely want to coach one day. Obviously I want to play as long as I can be productive, but if that doesn't work out I'd love to coach and stick around a little longer."
Baisley Getting His Opportunity To Shine
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