A Note on the Personal Side of Chuck Lofgren
I am a 22-year old professional baseball player who was drafted out of Junipero Serra High School in 2004. My main goal in life is to get to the major leagues where I would like to enjoy a long career as a pitcher. I am also attending the University of Phoenix where I have obtained my AA degree and I am currently working on my Bachelor’s degree. My second goal is to obtain a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice within the next two years.
I’ve always enjoyed playing baseball from the time I was seven years old. I played on several All-Star and travel teams when I was young and when I was 15 years old, I was chosen to play on the USA baseball team representing the United States in Vera Cruz, Mexico. We won the gold medal and many of the players who were on my team are now playing for various teams in the major leagues. I went on to play for the USA baseball team in Venezuela when I was 16 years old and in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles when I was 17 years old. I was a two-way player on each of these teams because in addition to pitching, I was also a good hitter.
When I was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2004, my contract was expanded so that I was allowed to pitch and hit. Unfortunately a collision at home plate ended my hitting career abruptly because the Indians did not want me to get injured hitting if they ultimately see me as a pitcher.
I have spent four full seasons in the minor leagues working my way up from Rookie ball to Double/Triple A in 2007 and 2008. I attended major league Spring Training the last two years and became familiar with all the aspects and responsibilities of a professional baseball career. I am currently participating in the Arizona Fall league where I am playing for the Surprise Rafters. The Arizona Fall League is an exciting competitive program. I’m very happy that I was chosen to participate because, after struggling through the regular season in 2008, I believe I have begun to correct the mechanical and personal issues that have plagued me for the past year and a half. Although I have not produced a good statistical record in the fall league, I believe I have made great strides in commanding of my fastball and I’ve been able to get ahead of batters in the count in recent games. I’m working diligently to perfect my pitching skills and get back to where I was at the previous years.
I know I have the confidence and the ability to become a talented major league pitcher in the future. I have an extremely competitive spirit that burns inside of me and drives me to be a winner. Nothing can stop the hunger I have to reach my dream in being a major league ball player.
While in Arizona, I am living at my house with Neil Wagner and Erik Stiller who are also teammates with the Cleveland Indians. They are both very intelligent, talented ball players who have a bright future ahead of them. We have enjoyed our time together and getting to know each other on a personal basis. We spent time with my parents when we first arrived in September and we were spoiled by my mom’s home cooking for the first two weeks we were here. We’ve been attending our games every day and working out at the gym, running, playing video games and going to movies in our spare time. My parents will be returning next week for the balance of the fall league season and we are all looking forward to more of mom’s good home cooking.
The weather in Arizona at this time is terrific and quite conducive for playing games during the afternoon or in the evening. I’m looking forward to Spring Training at our new stadium in Goodyear, Arizona this spring. I feel very confident this upcoming year will be a good one for myself and let me achieve my goals I have worked towards my entire life.
Hey out there, this is Neil Wagner. I play in the Cleveland Indians’ Minor League system and I’m going to be sharing my Arizona Fall League experience with you in this blog while I’m out here, so I’ll start by letting you know a little bit about myself.
I grew up in Minnesota in Eden Prairie, which is a suburb of Minneapolis. I managed to fly somewhat under the radar throughout most of my high school career, and as a result I was faced with somewhat limited college choices if I wanted to continue playing baseball, but I eventually settled on North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND. NDSU is known more for its football program (8 Division II national championships, currently No. 6 in the I-AA polls, Go Herd!), women’s basketball (five national championships), and school of agriculture than it is for baseball, but when I saw Newman Outdoor field on my tour, I decided it was the place for me. Playing in Fargo, despite the less than ideal baseball weather, was a great experience, and winning our conference in 2004 is still one of my proudest baseball moments.
I got drafted by the Indians in 2005 after a rough junior year in which NDSU was transitioning from D-II to Division I, and I signed at the end of the summer. There were a lot of adjustments I had to make moving from NDSU to professional baseball, starting with getting used to being half a foot shorter than basically all the other pitchers (especially true with all the monsters we have on our AFL team). I also had to start essentially from scratch in terms of throwing offspeed pitches, which I never did a whole lot of in high school and college. The curveball I threw my first year in Mahoning Valley is still somewhat of a recurring joke among the guys I played with there, but I’d like to think I’ve adjusted pretty well overall. I spent most of this season playing for Kinston in the high-A Carolina League and got called up to our Double-A affiliate, Akron, for about the last month of the season including the playoffs. Double-A is a whole different beast. Hitters are a lot more adept at picking up patterns and zoning out bad pitches, but it was a good learning experience for me and hopefully I can continue to refine my pitches and delivery this fall.
I’m really excited to get the ball rolling on the Arizona Fall League season and continue working on doing the things I need to do to make that step to the big leagues. Having my pitching coach from last year, Ruben Niebla, on staff should make things a little easier for me since he knows me and helped me out a lot last year (especially in scrapping my aforementioned curveball). So far it has been great getting to know some of the faces that are usually in the other dugout and catching up with some of the guys I played with in the Hawaiian Winter League last year, but I think I speak for all the guys when I say we’re all ready to get out of Spring Training mode and get between the lines for some live game action. I’ll be checking in throughout the fall league to bring you updates and also share a bit of myself and my experience in the fall league, so look for more in the near future.