Reporting Matt Leon
By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – He is not a household name, but Valentino Pascucci can mash a baseball with the best of them.
Currently the designated hitter for the Camden Riversharks, the 34-year-old Pascucci has 299 professional home runs according to the statistical website baseball-reference.com. That means his next bomb will be #300 for his career. A special achievement for sure, but one that will most likely go under the radar. That’s because while Pascucci has accumulated his total over 15 years with 15 teams in four countries on two continents, only three of those home runs have come in the Major Leagues.
“Anytime you hit a milestone like that, it’s obviously special,” Pascucci tells KYW Newsradio. “I don’t think a lot of guys here even know about it. For me, 300 is a nice number and hopefully it will be coming soon.”
A right-handed hitter, Pascucci is one of those players that, despite putting up numbers year-after-year, for whatever reason, has never been able to get a Major League team to give him a long term opportunity. He has gotten two shots in the big leagues, one in 2004 and one in 2011. Back in ’04, the Montreal Expos gave him 62 at bats. He hit .177 with his first two big leagues home runs. Then in 2011, the New York Mets provided him his second, and to this point, last taste of the bigs with a ten-game run. He hit his third Major League home run during that stint, and it is one that, at the time, made a lot of people in the Delaware Valley groan.
“My latest one was actually against Philadelphia and Cole Hamels (it tied a September 24th game at 1 in the 7th inning. Mets would go on to win 2-1),” Pascucci says. “A lot of friends and family here in the Philly area were saying, ‘Nice job, but why did you have to do it against the Phillies?’ I’ll always remember the three that I had up there, and hopefully I can hit a couple more.”
While he may not have the big league experience that every player dreams of (just 73 at bats), Pascucci has had an incredible baseball odyssey that has taken him literally around the globe (U.S., Canada, Mexico and Japan). It is one that would have been hard for him to imagine after the Expos drafted him in the 15th round out of the University of Oklahoma back in 1999.
“You never know what the future might bring,” Pascucci says. “I’ve gotten to travel all over the world and play (in) all these different places, different countries and it’s just been a great road for me. I wish there was a little bit more big league time in there, but I’ve gotten to play parts of different years in the big leagues, and that’s been great. Being all over the country and playing different places has been fun and been an adventure for me as well.”
And that adventure is nowhere near over. Since joining Camden mid-season (his second career stint with the Riversharks), Pascucci has been a monster in the middle of the order. He is hitting .302 in 27 games with nine home runs and 27 runs batted in. Numbers that could easily turn the head of a Major League team looking to add power for the stretch run.
“I just keep going out and hopefully it’s (another shot) still to come,” Pascucci says. “I’m having a pretty good year. Something might open up at the end of this year or next year. I’ve always wanted just a chance, just somebody say, ‘Here’s a hundred at bats in the big leagues, let’s see what you can do.’”
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.