American Association Daily provides insights and features on the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions going on with teams around the league. In today’s edition. we feature Wichita Wingnuts utility player Logan Trowbridge, who has a great of confidence that his experiences with the 2017 Salina Stockade will help to make him one of the best players in the American Association.
Introducing Logan Trowbridge
If you ask a lot of minor and independent league baseball players what it takes to get to the next level, you will frequently hear things like talent, hard-work, mental toughness, a great baseball IQ, and passion. While all of those things are true, it may be that the most real key is confidence.
This is a game of failure. A baseball player is going to get out on average of three out of every four times and, while pitchers have greater success than hitters, the mistakes they make are often magnified, so that a hurler who successfully gets batters out 70 percent of the time is actually looked upon as not very good at all.
Through all of that, players have to believe that they are going to get the better of their opponent. Even if they are embarrassed on the previous pitch or play, they have to know that the next pitch, the next ground ball, the next time they take the mound or step into the batter’s box, they are going to be the victor.
It is that kind of confidence that helps a player go 0-3 with three strikeouts and then hit a dramatic walk-off home run. The kind of confidence that turns a .225 hitter one season into an All-Star the next. This is the kind of confidence that every successful professional baseball player must have and is why the Wichita Wingnuts Logan Trowbridge seems destined to reach the highest levels of the sport.
Adding to the Psychological Debate
Logan Trowbridge grew up loving to play baseball. It was how successful he was on the diamond that really enhanced his love for the game, this despite the fact that he jokingly acknowledges that his parents were not the most athletic of people.
“So, I was writing a paper about the nature versus nurture aspect of it for my psychology class, and how, from a young age, the nature of my baseball IQ and my baseball ability was just far out better than I could even imagine. Better than my parents could even imagine. Neither of my parents were extremely athletic in their fields. My mom is a dancer a little bit, so she has some athleticism. My pops taught me how to play baseball and put a lot of time in helping me play ball but never did in himself. So, the athleticism came from out of nowhere.”
From an early age, baseball was all that Logan could think of. Each day, getting out on the field became a passion.
“My mom told me that I would always wake up at 6 AM and be excited to jump out of bed and get going to the baseball field. We would have an 8 o’clock game over the hill and I’d have to drive an hour to get to the field. I was always excited from a young age, so it was never work, it was never hard for me. It was always just a fun time that I enjoyed.”
While he had the natural talent to succeed, it was the opportunities that his parents gave him that really helped him to thrive in the sport. To pursue his passion to the fullest.
“My dad always played with me when I was a young boy. He’s made some really good decisions in his life, therefore, he got to spend a lot of time with me when I was growing up. He didn’t have to work a 9 to 5 job. My mom has always worked her butt off, but at the same time has always been there for me. Wherever there is a baseball game, she’s come out there a lot.”
Earning a Reputation for Excellence
Logan Trowbridge played football as a child as well, but early on in high school he realized that baseball was the only sport he truly wanted to play. Even as he was reaching into his teenage years, he already knew that there was just one sport for him – baseball.
“Going through high school I played a little football my freshman year, but thought, ‘I don’t really love this, don’t really like going to practice, don’t love showing up every day and doing this,’ but baseball is a totally different thing. I would just be ecstatic to get out of class in high school and college as well, and get over to the baseball field. People call it working hard, I would say it’s playing for me, so it’s always been a game for me and it’s always been fun.”
In his senior season at Aptos High School (CA), Logan earned honors as the Santa Cruz County Player of the Year as well as the SCCAL Player of the Year. That year, he led his team to the conference title.
It’s Your Opportunity…
After graduating high school, the baseball star headed on to the College of San Mateo where he would play for two seasons before transferring to California State-Bakersfield. This was an exciting opportunity for Logan Trowbridge, because it gave him the chance to play against the very best competition in the country.
“We played in the Western Athletic Conference and we went on to win our conference title that year (his junior season). We went on to regionals, did some cool things, knocked out a really good Ole Miss team. That was a dream come true. I played against UCLA when they were the number one team in the nation when we played them.”
In 2014, the junior had a solid year, hitting .262 with 14 RBI and 11 runs scored in 35 games. A year later, Logan struggled, hitting .141 in 34 games with 12 runs scored and 10 RBI.
Starting Small, But Thinking Big
It was a disappointing campaign, but not one that diminished his belief that he could continue on in his pursuit of baseball excellence. Undrafted coming out of college, Logan Trowbridge was looking for an opportunity to continue to play. He spoke with Lincoln Manager Bobby Brown about joining the Saltdogs, but the team did not have an opening at the time. Brown encouraged Logan to join the Pecos League until an opportunity arose.
“He told me to go play there and see how things were going and see if he could make a move on me. So, I went and did that. I just enjoyed playing the game, even if it was not always the best places to be playing, but I took it as a kind of temporary thing, and I knew that it each level, whether it’s AAA or it’s a low level independent league, you have to take it as a steppingstone and say ‘I’m not where I want to be yet.’ It was a good reminder and still is a good reminder to look back and think about how I got to keep making moves in the right direction.”
While this may not have been the level where Logan wanted to be playing, he made the most of the opportunity. In 58 games with Great Bend, the then 22-year-old hit .359 with 40 runs scored, five homers, and 45 RBI. He also stole 29 bases and posted a gaudy .465 on-base percentage.
The following season, the Salina Stockade moved up from the Pecos League, joining the American Association for a season. Logan did not start the year with the team, but joined them after a month.
While this was a golden opportunity, it was also one that came with a number of challenges. The Stockade spent the entire season on the road, which was taxing both physically and mentally on the Salina outfielder.
“The Stockade was incredibly challenging. Playing every game on the road, being the road team. It’s always a tough thing to be a visitor and then to do that for 100 games straight was challenging. You don’t have a home base to go back to, the bus rides were tough, but it was still a cool experience when we got to a destination. We were still just as excited as you would be for a home game. I was just excited to play ball and to have some good competition and be in some good atmospheres.”
Logan began the season with Tucson, hitting .278 in five games before being signed by Salina. In the final 71 games of the year, he batted .224 with 24 runs and 22 RBI. While the numbers were not what he desired offensively, this gave him the opportunity to showcase his defensive skills, as Trowbridge played everywhere on the diamond but pitcher.
A Humbling Season Inspires Greater Success
After a humbling season with the Stockade, Logan Trowbridge was looking for an opportunity to shake off the struggles of 2017 and show that he had what it takes to be a key contributor on a team. In March, the Wichita Wingnuts gave him that opportunity when they signed the 23-year-old to a contract. This was just the opportunity he was looking for.
“Talking to (Player Personnel Director) Josh (Robertson), it just seemed like he was excited to have me out there. They’re going a little bit younger this year, they’re trying to rebuild and have that fire and that energy every day. I played well there last year. When you are playing at a place that you enjoy playing at, that you play well at, it’s just kind of got a little bit of a nostalgia for you. It’s like hitting off of the pitcher that you you’ve owned in the past. You have a little bit more confidence. Last year they had a lot of success. You want to be surrounded by successful people because that’s only going to make you better.”
The 2017 season was a learning experience for Logan. While excited that he had the opportunity to move up to a higher level, it also came with some growing pains, both as a player and with his team. The Stockade went just 18-82, and he is relishing the opportunity to showcase his skills with one of the best teams in all of independent baseball.
Last year, it took me a little bit to get used to it. Then I was struggling a little bit. This year, I get a fresh start, I’m on a fresh team and I know I have a lot more confidence, a lot more excitement going into this season that things are going to go well. I’m going to have winning guys around me in a winning atmosphere. There is so much more to be excited about and I think that I’m a lot more prepared this year for what’s to come.”
This will not only be an opportunity to shake off the memories of 2017, but also a chance to prove himself against some of the best competition in independent baseball. This has helped to give Logan a whole new focus for 2018.
“Last year was a big step because I was going from a lower level indy league to a pretty legit one. I was excited to be there and this year I’m not quite as excited to be there. I’m more excited to set some goals and to break those goals. To break some barriers and impress some people, so I definitely have some goals I’d like to achieve this year. It’s a little bit different. Last year I just kind of wanted to be there, this year I want to be the guy. I want to be in the lineup every day, I want to be playing every day. I want to really make my presence known. It’s definitely a different feel going into this year.”
Logan is not the only one who is seeing this as a great opportunity. His ability to play a multitude of positions made him the ideal commodity for the Wingnuts. In fact, that ability will make his luggage a little bit heavier when he reports to Spring Training.
“I texted Brent and I just asked him if he wanted me in any one position, I’ll be working this off-season to get prepared, so was there a specific position he wanted me to focus on. He told me to just bring all my gloves. So, I’m prepared to play some infield, some outfield, play behind the plate, wherever they put me.”
A Lesson in Confidence
Baseball is arguably the most challenging sport to play because, as a hitter, you are a success for being less of a failure than others. A sport where 30 percent success is considered one of the best in the game.
This is a humbling experience for many ball players. They know they could be doing everything right and still have nothing positive to show for it. It causes most to simply say, “That’s just baseball,” but that is not the outlook that Logan Trowbridge has. In fact, he expects to see himself produce and isn’t letting excuses become a crutch for his lack of success.
“If you hit enough balls hard, they’re going to find some holes. That’s always been my outlook on it. I talk to guys and they explain that they’re hitting it hard but it’s always going right at guys. Well, that just means you have to hit the ball harder and more often. That’s the way I look at it. I think you can always do better from day-to-day and that’s what you got to look to do.”
He knows he will have success, not as much because of his great hand-eye coordination or exceptional baseball IQ, but primarily because he simply loves baseball. Why else would someone play a sport where you put in 10 hour days, seven days a week for virtually no financial gain.
“What inspires me? It ain’t money, I’ll tell you that much,” Logan explains with a laugh. “You’re not playing minor league baseball if you’re here to make money. Our coach would always tell us if you want to make money go work at McDonald’s. I’ve done the math and a McDonald’s employee is absolutely earning more money than a lot of people in that league. It’s not money.
“It’s just loving the game, and loving to compete, because it’s a very humbling game and you got to ride out the waves so you’re not too high or low. It builds a lot of mental toughness. I think that I have become a lot more mature human being through the process of playing against tough competition, and so it’s just an uphill battle that keeps you coming back for more.
“Those good days really do it for you too. I feel the same way about golf. Everything is going bad, but you hit one good shot and it keeps you coming back for more. I think your success absolutely helps you wake up, get out of bed and get to the field.”
Logan is not just driven by his desire to be a Major Leaguer one day. It took two people to give him the opportunity to be where he is at, and he wants to do all he can to show his love and appreciation for what they have done for him.
“My mom loves baseball just as much as I do. My dad gets sick of us because we’ll talk about baseball for hours if I keep it going, because she just loves it so much. She works in the wine business and when I’m with her helping her out, others are always saying, ‘Oh, you’re the baseball player.’ She’s always bragging about me and loves to talk about me and live vicariously through me. They share how proud of me they are, and I want to do well because I know they are watching, they are wanting to see me succeed.”
Get Ready to Play Ball!
With 40 days left until the 2018 American Association season gets underway, Logan Trowbridge is busy training and preparing himself for his debut with his new team. He will probably see a lot of action for the Wichita Wingnuts at a multitude of positions, looking to help the team to reach their third straight appearance in the championship series.
He will also look to build off what he learned with the Salina Stockade last season, using his new found knowledge to help turn him into one of the best players in the league. It will give him a chance to make a big difference for his team while also driving himself toward joining an affiliate club.
It is true that the vast majority of players in the American Association have this goal, but most may not have the confidence that will put them there. At least, not the confidence that Logan Trowbridge has. So, enjoy the skills and talent of the young man Wingnuts fans. He may not be in Wichita for long.
Featured Image Courtesy of Jim Lee/Sioux City Journal
By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA