Photo property of Bill Mitchell/Four Seam Images and MiLB.com
We'll get to the company Ryan Scoma is trying to keep in a minute or two, but first let's catch up with the San Francisco farmhand.
When last Ryan chatted with Bleacher Report, the outfielder had just been selected by Los Gigantes in the draft and his professional career was still cast in hopes and hypotheticals. There are still healthy doses of both when the discussion turns toward the Majors, but the outfielder now has two seasons' worth of professional actualities to dilute the ifs.
That much has changed; what hasn't changed is Scoma's approach.
"My experience has helped me these past couple of years because you've gotta prove yourself every day," he said. "Nothing is guaranteed."
Much like his transition from high school to junior college to UC Davis, the 23-year-old had to scrap for every iota of progress. So it shouldn't come as a surprise to hear he's done precisely that.
After a rough baptism by pro fire during Rookie Ball in 2009, Scoma bounced back with a vengeance in 2010. Having graduated to short-season Single-A, Ryan started raking once again—he posted a snazzy slash line of .310/.377/.402 with 13 doubles, three home runs and 34 RBI in 289 PA.
When asked to explain the disparate results, he showed his talents are not limited to the physical.
"It was a variety of things," he said. "Rookie ball was a little tough—I got hit in the face with a bat and pulled a muscle in my back twice. That limited me to only 100 at-bats; I got over 200 in short season."
Makes sense, right?
Your first taste of pro ball is probably going to have a bitter twinge even in the best of times. But if nagging injuries are messing with your timing and/or keeping you from the field? Oof.
Lest he give the impression the improvement was all Ryan Scoma's doing, he dropped one further nugget.
"I love the Giants...the organization is great and the coaching staff in Salem (Single-A short season) is phenomenal. (Salem manager) Tom Trebelhorn is so easy to play for."
That's an astute observation while flashing his confidence and deflecting some of the praise. Like I said, he's not just a skilled ballplayer.
As he prepares for his next step in the constant struggle to realize his dream, Ryan is keeping his nose to the grindstone while embracing the challenge.
"I'm not intimidated by anyone," he said. "They're just standing in the what of what I love to do so I'm excited. I've always believed in my abilities and worked to be ready for every opportunity."
And he's still working.
Some call him a natural hitter, but don't tell Ryan that because he sure spends a lot of time honing his craft for a guy born into the discipline. A day in the life usually includes a couple hours hitting in the cage, 100-200 balls off a tee (about the only time hitters don't like to hit) and a date with live pitching whenever he can find a coach or ex-teammate to do the dirty work.
Of course, like all ballplayers, Scoma's got a little superstition to him.
"Never finish on a bad one (swing)," he said. "You've gotta get in some kind of zone to hit."
Tough to argue with the results so I won't bother, especially since the kid's gonna need more of 'em to graduate to the next level and continue his trek over well-worn ground.