Just 25-games into his professional career, Helena Brewers infielder Nick Roscetti is already proving that the Brewers organization made a smart choice when they selected him in the 2016 MLB amateur draft. Despite sitting for much of the final two months of the 2016 season with an injury, the 23-year-old is off to a fast start this season with the Brewers and is quickly proving that he is the kind of catalyst that can jump start a team on any night.
However, it is not just his performance at the plate that has the Helena Brewers ascending through the standings, now just a game out in the North Division of the Pioneer League. It is the heart and passion for the game that has him pushing himself each night, not only to be the best player that he can be, but also so that the Brewers infielder can do all he can to help his team win, while living up to the standards of excellence that his parents taught him.
Baseball Was King from the Start
Nick Roscetti grew up in Sherman, IL, the son of Joe and Teri Roscetti. His mom and dad were both athletes in their own right, as Dad had played football at Western Illinois and mom was a Junior Olympics gold medalist.
Older sister Ashleigh was also interested in playing sports. She was coached by her dad in Little League, which led Nick to want to play baseball himself. His mother, however, balked at the idea at first.
“My dad had coached my older sister. It’s the kind of thing that when you’re younger you play with all of your friends and it doesn’t really matter if you’re a girl or boy, I was too young to play. I always saw my sister out there having fun, and I would actually go up to my mom and start crying because she wouldn’t let me go play. I would always stay after and have my dad throw me those little wiffle balls, those little golf ball things, just to try to get into the game a little bit. I think that was like the first moment that I really wanted to play baseball.”
While playing other sports growing up, Nick also loved baseball and it became the sport that he wanted to pursue, hoping it would lead to a career in the game. He was enamored with the sport and found that his passion was for the diamond.
“I just love baseball the most. Ever since I was younger I just knew that this was the sport I wanted to pursue throughout college and maybe even in professional baseball. It was just a game that I fell in love with. It was just love at first sight.”
While focused on baseball, playing other sports helped him to improve his own game. His dad emphasized that he would have much greater success if he was a middle infielder, and he was wise enough to take his father’s advice.
“Growing up I was always a middle infielder. I think playing other sports really helped me along with that. Football gave me a little more power, soccer helped me with my footwork, basketball helped me with my lateral shuffling. Growing up my dad just always told me that if you play middle infield you can play anywhere else on the field. Which is pretty cool. I take pride in that. I can take flyballs in the outfield, I’ve been playing third base, short, second, so wherever I can play I’ll do it.”
A Resume Built in High School
Nick Roscetti starred for his baseball team at Williamsville High School (IL). In his sophomore season, his performance really took off. Nick hit .474 with 35-RBI and 13-stolen bases. He also posted a .522 on-base percentage, and was listed as a Perfect Game Top Prospect.
The numbers tailed off slightly in his junior season, primarily because opposing pitchers were simply not going to let Nick beat them. He hit .465 that season, but improved his on-base percentage to .574 and drove in 25-runs. Williamsville was the conference champ that year, and he went 6-3 with a 1.81 ERA and 68 strikeouts on the mound to aid the team in their run for the title.
As a senior, he proved to be one of the most highly touted prospects in the country, hitting .525 with 54-runs scored and 29-RBI. He set a career high with 29-steals and also starred on the mound, going 9-3 with a 1.84 ERA and 84-strikeouts.
The success was earning him all kinds of accolades. Following his senior season, he was named to the Class 2A All-Star team at both pitcher and shortstop. He was the State Journal Male Athlete of the Year as well. Three-times he was named to the All-Conference team and he was a Players Choice Award winner.
Ready to Soar
With numbers like this, a player is going to garner a lot of attention and that is exactly what happened. Nick Roscetti had been offered some opportunities to play baseball at several schools but, after a meeting with two coaches the University of Iowa, the decision of where he was going was a no-brainer.
“I didn’t get too many big offers out of high school. At the time, it was Coach Jack Dahm and Ryan Brownlee who principally recruited me, but they got me on campus, took me around, and I instantly fell in love with the University of Iowa. It was probably one of the best decisions of my life to attend there and develop as a person and as a baseball player. It was just a great atmosphere, a great school, great community, great fans. I just met a lot of lifelong friends there. It was the right decision for me.”
His first two seasons for the Hawkeyes, Nick played in a combined total of 70-games, but only started 44 of those contests. He hit .272 his freshman season and .246 a year later. However, in his junior campaign the numbers rose greatly. In 56 games that season, Nick hit .303 with 27-runs scored and 27-RBI. He also stole nine bases. The season earned him Third-Team All-Big Ten honors.
As a senior, Nick upped his game. He appeared in all 56-games, averaging .305 at the plate, and setting career highs in hits (72), RBI (39), runs scored (43) and walks (22). He also set a career high with 10 doubles and three homers.
While performing well on the diamond, what was most impressive was that Nick was choosing to continue his degree as a biology major. For those who are unfamiliar, being a science major requires long hours in the lab. That is not easy to do when your weekends are spent in other cities playing baseball, but Nick still excelled despite the exceedingly long hours.
“There are some long days. Some days I had to go to the lab at 6 AM, had a lab at 730, had class until 1 o’clock. We had practice at two, get done around five, then go to the library and study for four hours. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it. I was always interested in biology, science, chemistry, so it was fun. It was a lot of hard work but I definitely don’t regret it.”
With the Fifth Pick in the 26th Round, the Milwaukee Brewers Select…
After making baseball such a significant portion of his life, all the hard work, passion, and devotion to the game paid off when Nick Roscetti was chosen by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2016 MLB amateur draft. It was an exciting time for the then 22-year-old, but one that was also a bit emotional for him.
“I was actually down in St. Louis with my little brother. He had a baseball tournament, so I was watching him. I was just spending time with my family and wasn’t really watching the tracker. My phone started ringing and I saw Milwaukee, and I hadn’t really talked to them at all. So, that’s when my heart started racing and I picked it up and they told me that they had just selected me in the draft. I hung up and my little brother came running over and I gave him a big old hug, got a little emotional. It was just one of those memories that you’ll never forget. It will always be in my heart and I’m forever grateful for that opportunity.”
While Milwaukee was a surprise in terms of them selecting him, it was also a great blessing as far as he was concerned. It not only afforded him the opportunity to eventually play near the area where he grew up, but the city itself was very much like what he was accustomed to.
“Coming from Iowa, being a smaller big school, it was really cool, because the Brewers feel kind of the same way. They’re a professional team but they aren’t the Dodgers or Cubs or Cardinals, like that. Even the NL Central is pretty cool being from Illinois. I thought it was pretty cool because it was pretty close. I always had a soft spot for the Brewers growing up, so that was pretty cool.”
Nick was sent to the Arizona League to begin his professional career, but would only appear in 13 games before suffering a season-ending injury. He had shown that he could perform, hitting .277 with 9-runs scored, giving the Brewers a glimpse of how good he could be. Many would look at an injury like this is a serious setback, but Nick viewed it as an opportunity to improve his game in other ways.
“I got hurt, and just watching the game that kind of really helped me, too. Watching people and how they approached things differently from college, talking to different coaches, managers, about different situations really kind of helped me to take it in.”
Clearly, Nick was an exceptional observer, as he has started the 2017 Pioneer League season with a lot of success. In 12-games this season, the Brewers prospect is hitting .294 with 14-runs scored and 3 driven in. So far, seven of his 15-hits have been for extra base hits, including 5-doubles, and he has hits in nine of the 12 games he has appeared in.
It is early in the season, but Nick is already leaving his mark in other ways. The Helena Brewers started out the season 0-5 and it took a six-game winning streak for them to finally reach above .500. Since then, they have hung right around the even mark, never winning or losing more than two. That is the kind of rollercoaster atmosphere that can easily fray the nerves of a team, but Nick is ensuring that his teammates don’t let the successes or failures of the game affect him or his teammates.
“I think I’m consistent with my attitude, with my energy. You can’t be too hyped up when you get ahead or too low when you strike out. I think that is one of my biggest assets is that I keep a level mind and try to be consistent. If I make an error the next time I’m ready. If I get a hit, that’s cool that I got a hit, but there’s another at-bat so you have to be ready for that. So, just keeping an even mind, a level mind and always being ready for the next page.”
Even in his young career, he understands that a professional season can be long and grueling, and his teammates are going to be frustrated, angry, and even depressed at times. When he knows his teammates are struggling, either on or off the field, they have a good friend who is there to listen.
“When someone’s down they can come to me. If their kind of too high or too low, I try to get them to calm down, that we still have another game to play. I just try to be the calming force of the locker room. If someone’s upset and they come to me, I’ll usually try to talk to them and try to get their hopes up. I just try to be the calming force.”
A Career Which Matches His Character
Nick Roscetti is bringing his heart and passion to the field every day. He is the kind of player that teammates love to be around and coaches love to coach because he is receptive, passionate, and even-tempered. That makes it easy for teammates to open up to him and to know that he has their back when they are struggling.
That passion has made him committed to give his all every time he takes the field. He is committed to giving his best every time, something his parents instilled in him early on in life.
“They’ve always been there for me. They’ve always pushed me to my highest level, they push me to be the best person I can be, on and off the field, and I think they really inspire me to do my best, to always go out there and want to do things the right way. To always to be a good person on and off the field.”
No one knows how far Nick Roscetti will go in professional baseball. Sadly, the most talented are not always the ones who advance, as you have to have a little blessing to make it all the way to the top. Regardless, fans and teammates can be sure that Nick will give his heart to the game.
That is only fitting. When he is finally ready to hang it up, Nick will be seeking to become a perfusionist. For those who are unfamiliar with this profession (as I was), this is a person who assists during open heart surgery by ensuring that oxygenated blood continues to flow to the vital organs while the heart is being worked on or is being replaced. In essence, he is being the heart for the patient.
How fitting that is. Right now, Nick Roscetti is giving his heart and soul to the Helena Brewers trying to help the team win and to help himself and his teammates reach the highest level of the game. In essence, he is bringing heart to them as well.
By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA