The bus rides are long. The scenery? Fine … if cornfields are your thing. And there are not a lot of five-star restaurants to dine in after games.
But none of that matters to Tom Cosgrove, the former Manhattan College pitching ace who is chasing his Major League dream as a member of the Fort Wayne TinCaps.
“My teammates here are great, we all get along so well and that definitely makes it easier,” Cosgrove said. “But the bus rides are definitely not fun. You don’t enjoy getting on a bus for a five-hour ride after a night game. But travel here in the Midwest League isn’t so bad because Fort Wayne is pretty centrally located in the league.”
Keep in mind Cosgrove uttered those words before the TinCaps’ seven-hour bus ride to Cedar Rapids recently, where the Class A ball club dropped two of three games.
But still the thrill of chasing his boyhood dream trumps any bumpy bus ride or endless days of fast food. Cosgrove, a 12th-round pick of the San Diego Padres in the 2017 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, has his eye on the prize and knows these are the days when he absorbs as much baseball instruction as he can as he hones his craft.
“It’s definitely been great,” said Cosgrove, who currently owns a 2-4 record with a 4.62 ERA. “I’ve learned a lot of stuff. It has been up and down, but that’s just how baseball is. There’s good and bad with everything. There are a lot of people here that have helped me out a lot, so I’m lucky to be here.”
Cosgrove got his start in the Padres organization last summer through the Arizona Rookie League before earning a promotion to the Tri-City Dust Devils of the short-season Northwest League. This year he was bumped up again, this time to Fort Wayne of the Midwest League, as he continues his rise through the ranks.
“I have struggled at times, but I’m not too concerned with some of my struggles,” Cosgrove said. “But I’ve also pitched well, too. I just try to stay even-keeled and just try to get in a good routine that I can stick to and build off for next year and years to come.
“Obviously I want to pitch well and I want to get good results, but right now I feel like I just have to trust the process and not be so result oriented. Just let things work out and work hard, and see where things take you.”
Cosgrove’s struggles mostly came at the start of the season, but credits his pitching coaches with smoothing the rough edges of his game in recent weeks. He has now struck out 67 batters in 70 innings.
”I think it’s been the pitching coach here and the other coaches here that have helped me and I just try to take in as much stuff as I can,” Cosgrove said. “But I also feel more comfortable on the mound as of late than I did in the beginning of the year. I think it’s also due to just getting more innings under my belt and taking the things I’ve been told by my coaches and using them in games.”
Cosgrove has bounced between being a starter and reliever, and is willing to fill whatever role the organization wants.
“Right now I just worry about getting my innings in,” he said. “Wherever I end up in the next couple of years, whether it’s as a starter or reliever, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone could tell me right now, so I’m just trying to get in as many innings as I can.”
Cosgrove points to some guidance from former Major Leaguers in spring training as also providing some important insights, including some from one future Hall of Famer.
“Trevor Hoffman was around a lot, and he’s getting inducted into the Hall of Fame” on July 29, Cosgrove said. “So that was cool.”
There’s much to deal with on the Minor League level, from travel to constant instruction. But through it all Cosgrove remains positive as he hopes to continue his march through the Padres system.
“I do realize I’m lucky to be doing this, but sometimes you just don’t feel lucky because it is a grind,” Cosgrove said. “It’s not as easy as everyone thinks it is. But I like to remind myself pretty often how lucky I am.”