NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – The Mahoning Valley Scrappers open the 2015 season on Friday with Travis Fryman back at the helm. The former Indian is back as manager for the fourth time in seven years. His approach, has not changed nor has his fondness baseball here in the Valley.
“This is a phenomenal place to work, getting them from ground zero,” Fryman said. “They don’t know anything when they get in the door, and they all think they do, so that’s always fun. the first message I always give them is you guys don’t know enough to know what you don’t know. And at the end of the year they understand what i meant when i said that.”
Over the last 16 years 75 major league players have worn a Scrappers jersey, most of which got their start right here in the Mahoning Valley. Fryman was managing in 2010 when Giovanny Urshela played at Eastwood Field. He also coached All-Star Second-Baseman Jason Kipnis in 2009, and first-round draft pick Lonnie Chisenhall in 2008, who provided one of his funniest memories.
“Mr. Dolan who owns the Cleveland Indians had come down and he came to me one day and said where’s the young many I just gave a million dollars to, and he was referring to Lonnie Chisenhall, and I looked over and Lonnie was sitting right here signing autographs, unshaven with his glove on top of his hat, turned backwards. In my view that was not an impressive first impression to Mr. Dolan, Here’s a man we just gave a million dollars to wearing his glove on top of his head on top of his hat signing autographs, so they don’t know how to be professionals when they get here, hopefully after a few years they do,” Fryman said with a laugh.
The Cleveland Indians have six former Scrappers on their current 25 man roster player, and that remains the focus for this ballclub.
“Our definition of success is winning in Cleveland, not in Mahoning Valley. So we have to careful how we communicate that message to our player, we don’t want them thinking the whole universe revolves around them. But in the minor leagues our goal is to develop a player that impact our major league club. I tell these guys their value as a professional ball player is determined really by one thing: Do we win more games in Cleveland with you, or without you. If we win more games with you, you get to be a big league player with the Cleveland Indians, if we don’t, someone else gets to to do that job.”
The Scrappers travel to West Virginia to take on the Black Bears Friday night. That is the brand new minor league affiliate of the Pirates. The home opener is Thursday June 24th at Eastwood Field against the State College Spikes.