By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — One of the top teams in all of minor league baseball here in 2014 calls Dunedin, Florida home. The High-A Dunedin Blue Jays, as you probably guessed, are a Toronto Blue Jays affiliate in the Florida State League and this season they have rolled out to a 37-15 record.
One of the reasons Dunedin is so good is their starting rotation. One member of that rotation is former Temple Owl and Coatesville Area High product Ben White.
A 25-year-old right-hander, White is 2-2 in nine starts this season for Dunedin with a 3.73 ERA.
“I think the biggest thing is pitching to contact, having the confidence in the guys behind me to pick it up,” White tells KYW Newsradio. “I’ve worked on my sinker quite a bit, last season into this off-season, and I think it’s really reaping benefits. Getting a lot of bad contact and not too many guys seem to be finding the barrel, which is really important down here.”
Listen To Podcast With Ben White:
This is White’s fourth season as a pro, he signed with the Blue Jays as an undrafted free agent in 2011. His ERA has gone down every season since he turned pro and he’s happy with his progress.
“I can’t complain at all,” White says. “I think I’ve made strides every single year. The Blue Jays have been great, keeping confidence in me and moving me up every rung on the ladder. I think my progression has been gradual, I don’t think it’s been an overnight sensation. My main goal every year is just to either learn something new or just get a little bit better as a whole. So that as I do move up the food chain here in the minor leagues, I’m ready to make the adjustments and take my game to the next level with confidence and just what I’ve learned from the year before.”
He remembers the moment when it really sunk in that he had realized the dream of becoming a pro baseball player.
“I think when it really hit me was I was in Vancouver, Canada (in 2011),” White says. “I was standing on the mound and you hear the national anthem playing. There’s about 5,000 fans around you and they’re singing the national anthem and you make that first pitch (as a member of the Vancouver Canadians) and you’re just waiting to get that first out. I remember it was against Tyler Bream for the Yakima Bears, and he flew out to right field on a 2-0 fastball and I went, ‘OK, at least I have an out in my professional career and now I can finally move forward and I know I can at least get somebody out.'”
Needless to say, White’s gotten a lot of people out. He was a workhorse during his time at Temple as he finished his career in the Top 10 in school history in games started, innings pitched and strikeouts. And he isn’t going anywhere on those lists now because his alma mater decided back in December to eliminate the baseball program, making the 2014 season the last one in Temple baseball history. That news hit White hard.
“My brother was a senior there this year,” White says. “At least he’s a senior, this was going to be his last year anyway. But what about the guys that are freshmen? That had their minds made up, they wanted to go to Temple for four years. And now they’re being told no, you can’t. I think the thing that bothered me the most is when you sign a letter of intent and you commit to a school, they’re making the same commitment back to you that if you’re going to give everything that you’ve got for the name of the institution, they are going to give you everything in return. And I felt like that was an uneven trade-off that these poor kids got. And I just think that how it was done, in my opinion, was heartless.”
White is set to make his next start Friday night against Charlotte.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.