Meet the Scrappers
Fans get 1st look at team ahead of Thursday’s opener
NILES — Their hometowns are as far away as Nassau, Bahamas (Daalen Adderley) and as nearby as Poland, Ohio (Braeden O’Shaughnessy). The youngest (Oliver Service) won’t turn 18 for another 52 days while the elder statesman of the group (Travis Moore JR.) turned 24 in January.
They will be managed by a former MLB All-Star (Dmitri Young) who played 13 years in the Big Leagues.
Beginning Thursday, they will call Eastwood Field their summer home.
They are the 2023 Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
On Tuesday, the Scrappers players and coaching staff were introduced to the area for the first time as the team held its annual ScrappersFest at the Eastwood Mall in Niles.
The Scrappers begin their season Thursday with a home game against West Virginia. The game marks the first of a scheduled four-game home series between the Scrappers and Black Bears.
“It’s exciting; the start of a new season is always a special experience no matter what level you’re dealing with,” Young said. “There is something very unique about opening day in baseball.”
Young, who was named Scrappers manager in February, was selected as the 4th overall pick in the 1991 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He went on to enjoy an extremely productive MLB career which included a pair of All-Star appearances. After being traded from the Cardinals to the Reds in 1997, Young became a fan favorite in Cincinnati, where he played until 2001. Young hit .300 or better in all four seasons with the Reds. In 565 games with Cincinnati he hit .304 with 67 home runs and 296 RBIs.
Young also played five seasons for the Detroit Tigers and two with the Washington Nationals. He owned a lifetime MLB batting average of .292 with 171 home runs and 296 RBIs.
“At this level the game becomes different in so many ways,” Young said. “Playing every day, the road trips, the day-in and day-out work schedule. It’s all a part of the learning process.”
“Some say the game is 90 percent mental. It might be more like 95 percent. These players all have talent. They’re all physical specimens. Sometimes what separates the good from the great at this level is the mindset. It will be our job to guide these men through that part of the process.”
For the vast majority of Scrappers players, Tuesday marked their first visit to Eastwood Field. The team held its first practice in the afternoon, just prior to the Meet The Team festivities.
For O’Shaughnessy, a trip to Eastwood Field was like a return to home.
O’Shaughnessy, a 2019 Poland High graduate, just completed his fourth season with Youngstown State. The Penguins play their home games at Eastwood Field.
O’Shaughnessy estimates that has played roughly 100 games at Eastwood Field.
“I know the field, the atmosphere, the facility and the area,” O’Shaughnessy said. “I’m going to be living in the same apartment I’ve lived in throughout college. I’ll have the support of family and friends. I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”
O’Shaughnessy, an infielder, has started in 133 games at YSU, including a single-season program-record 57 games in 2022.
“It’s pretty surreal. As a young kid I came to Scrappers games dreaming to one day play for the team. First I got to play in the stadium as a college player. Now here I am with the Scrappers.”
“This really is a dream come true.”
O’Shaughnessy is one of four players on the opening day roster from Ohio. Others include A.J. Rausch (Powell), Zane Barnhart (Medina) and Derek Bolander (Oregon).
The Scrappers begin their third season as a member of the MLB Draft League. Once again, this season the league will include both amateur and professional players. The first half of the season will feature amateur, draft-eligible players who may still be eligible to return to the college level. The second half of the season will feature professional players who have exhausted their amateur eligibility or otherwise wish to begin their pro careers.
The 80-game regular season runs through Sept. 2.