As the days of September finally arrive and the baseball season begins to wind down, unlikely sources provide the spark and fire needed during a playoff push. Their names once residing in anonymity are now revealed to the masses thanks to their sudden contributions. At times they achieve feats beyond their previous peak and astound the most casual observers who suddenly begin to take notice and absorb the moment. Since being called up to the Staten Island Yankees on August 15th, Trey Amburgey, a thirteenth rounder out of St. Petersburg College has been one of the hottest hitters in professional baseball, batting over .440 and emerging as a valuable find deep in the draft.
For most organizations, selections made the later rounds of the draft are viewed as lottery tickets. In most cases their projections are idealized and the odds faced to attain their aspirations are embedded deep within their dreams with everything to gain if proven correct. Despite those factors, Amburgey, like most youngsters sought to pursue those ambitions while passionately following his beloved team. As a Boston Red Sox fan in Lake Worth, Florida, baseball became a way of life for Amburgey, who spent his formative high school years as a centerfielder with Park Vista. By his sophomore year, Amburgey’s team competed for the state semifinal against future Miami Marlins first round draft pick Jose Fernandez. Using his now familiar mid 90s heat, Fernandez struggled against Amburgey and his Park Vista teammates, who proceeded to score five runs against him that day. The ability to hold his own against a future big league star provided Amburgey with the confidence to compete against elite talent.
By his senior year he was hitting over .350 and proceeded to put up similar figures at St. Petersburg College as a speed threat at the top of the order. Toiling in relative obscurity, Amburgey established himself a potential draft pick with the Vermont Mountaineers of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. Flanked by six future draft picks, Amburgey finished tenth in the league with a .327 average and an All-Star appearance. His strong showing prompted the New York Yankees to take a flier on him in the thirteenth round last June. Assigned to the Gulf Coast Yankees, Amburgey utilized his speed and swiped 14 bases while posting a .404 on-base percentage in the process. When injuries mounted in Staten Island Amburgey got the call and suddenly morphed into Roy Hobbs, displaying contact, power, and contributing with virtually every possible offensive statistic imaginable.
Since his promotion to short season baseball in mid August, Amburgey has collected at least one hit in 13 of a possible 15 games to close the month of August and 18 hits in last 38 plate appearances. Eleven of his 25 hits have gone for extra bases, including three home runs. Amburgey’s heroics have led to a 10-5 record for Staten Island and a .455/.475/.800 slash line. Facing a lack of position player depth and missing four key run producers entering the All-Star break in mid August, Amburgey became a focal point for the club offensively and has proven to be key addition according to manager Pat Osborn. “He’s carried us. He steps right in and looks like a world beater”, Osborn said. “This kid can hit and play centerfield. He is going to have a big impact for this team down the stretch”. Amburgey earned New York-Penn League Player of the Week honors for the second consecutive week to close of the month of August and during his short sample size he has become one of the best value picks in the entire 2015 draft class.
At the climax of a season filled with peaks of dominance and bouts with adversity the outcome can be decided by an unexpected source. Teams feed off their energy and contribution and gain a second wind at a time when each game takes on great importance. The notion of being clutch enters the vernacular and a new opportunity presents itself with each pitch. In Trey Amburgey’s case it is a time to establish a name and provide credence to the investment by an organization. In a fleeting sample size, Amburgey is running with his moment and then some, exceeding expectations in every turn. “When he came up here to Staten Island, he was advertised as a speed guy”, Osborn said. “There are people in Tampa who say that the power is there. Thankful for us it arrived here. When a guy is going as well as him, you tend to hold these guys to a high standard and you got to remember that this game is a game of failure and you can’t come through every time. I think the Yankees organization is excited to have him.”
Though sustainability is unlikely, Amburgey is currently doing his best impression of Kevin Maas and Shane Spencer in the New York-Penn League. His hitting prowess at this juncture is both surprising and unforeseen, but is creating an impact. Often we expect the decline and eventual attrition of a folk hero and fail to savor the moment. Unlike a player selected in the early rounds of the draft, projection is an unknown commodity in Amburgey’s case. His performance captivates and serves as a harbinger of peak accomplishment. Whether we hear from Amburgey at this stage again or not, his presence had been felt for a brief period of time and for a kid from a small school in St. Petersburg, Florida, his name is now on the radar screen and gradually being recognized in the present.