Catcher shapes as big hit for Bandits
AT just 21 years of age, Brisbane Bandits catcher Ryan Battaglia wants to be his side's No.1 backstop for the upcoming ABL season.
He has every reason to set high goals: the Brisbane junior recently proved himself with the bat and behind the home plate in the American minor leagues.
Battaglia made enough of an impression playing for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in the New York-Penn League Class A system to earn a promotion to the Carolina Mudcats in the Class A Advanced league.
Not a bad effort from someone who only started playing the game at 13.
Four years later the Cleveland Indians offered the teenager a contract that he jumped at.
Battaglia is keen to continue his rapid progression in the sport over summer with some neat tricks he learnt in America up his sleeve.
"I was just thinking the other day that I've come a long way in three years," he said.
"Spring training with the Indians is always a lot of fun.
"You're in there trying your hardest to earn a spot on one the organisation's top teams and there are about 200 other people in the same boat.
"It was intense. You're crouching and catching balls a lot, on top of all the other drills you've got to do."
Battaglia's statistics over 39 games for the Scrappers and Mudcats do not exactly scream at you, with the youngster averaging .212 and hitting 13 RBI.
What was important however was the progress he made while keeping his foot in the door at the Indians.
"It's been a great experience for me and I've managed to progress to a higher league every season while over there," Battaglia said.
"I would have liked to have averaged more but I didn't get to start every game and build momentum."
Battaglia will get more opportunities at the Bandits, with his side opening its summer against Adelaide, at its new home of Holloway Field on November 1.
"I want to play every game with my mates back in Brisbane and be the team's No.1 catcher so I can go back to the States in good form and continue to chase my dream," Battaglia said.