Next up in the “Inside Spring Training” series is Braves LHP Chris Masters. He’s an Atlanta native, having graduated in 2006 from Kennesaw Mountain High School. From there, he went on to Western Carolina University, where he established his dominance as a starting pitcher. At WCU, Chris twice made the All Southern Conference Team, was a six-time Southern Conference Pitcher of the Week, and was a Cape Cod League invitee. He was selected in the 11th Round of the 2009 First Year Players Draft. Chris spent last year with the Danville Braves of the Appalachian League (Advanced Rookie), where he was quite impressive. He led the league in strikeouts (85), and he was second in the league in ERA (1.42) and wins (8). He also had an impressive streak of consecutive innings without allowing an earned run that I know extended to at least 25 innings. On top of all of his impressive baseball talent, Chris is also one of the tremendous players who gives his time to L.E.A.D., the inner-city baseball league I’m always touting! Without further adieu, here’s Chris Masters on his first Spring Training experience:
Well this is my first spring training since joining the Braves organization. I went to Western Carolina University for three years and got drafted by the Atlanta Braves after my junior year in the 11th round of June Draft. I went straight to Danville Virginia to play in the Advanced Rookie League and played there the whole season. We ended up winning the Appy League title.
I did not go to instructional league so I was not familiar at all with baseball in Orlando. After training in Marietta, Georgia during the offseason I headed down to B.E.S.T. Camp (Braves Early Spring Training) on March 1st. After a seven hour drive and the antcipation of my first spring training, I arrived in Orlando. We all stay at the Fairfield Marriot in the Marriot Village close to Downtown Disney and only 5 minutes from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex where we play. The hotel is great and the location is in proximity to everything which is very convenient.
First day at the field, we met everyone and the entire staff and it was really more of an orientation day to get a feel for how a day to day schedule would go. We also received all our jerseys, pants, workout stuff. Basically for the first 9 days we threw some bullpens, went through pitcher fielding practice and eased into throwing some live bullpens and gettin adjusted to be on the field with a team again.
March 9th and March 13th were the next arrival dates for pitchers and the rest of position players and now they have divided us up on to different teams. I am on the Rome squad when we break up onto our different fields.
Some of the other cool things that we have experienced. There is a great fan base here at the Wide World of Sports Complex. The facility itself is amazing with a lot going on throughout the day. There are some guys that get called up to dress out with the big league squad which is a great experience for them to get an experience and the extra motivation to get there permanently. We see some of the big league guys around walking in and out of the field. The two hall of famers (one already in and one that will definitely be in) we have seen so far are Phil Niekro and Tom Glavine. Phil Niekro comes around to help out randomly and has done some one-on-one with some of the guys. Tom Glavine just came by these past three days and he spoke to us about his experiences and the mental side of pitching which was so insightful and amazing. He is around the fields at times and has watched us throw our bullpens, which was really neat. I prefer not knowing too much about what the rest of spring training has in store because the anticipation makes it exciting and you never know what the Braves are going to do next and who is going to get moved up or down. The competition is starting to heat up so the players are really starting to get into it. The atmosphere is awesome and the whole experience is a true blessing. I am excited to be here and very excited to be apart of such a classy organization and competitive program with rich winning tradition!
I hope you all enjoyed that great insight into Spring Training as much as I did! I’m looking forward to seeing Chris in Rome this year. For those of you who live in the Atlanta area, consider making the trip to Rome for some games this year! They have a beautiful complex, and you’ll enjoy getting to see all of the young talent the Braves have in the pipeline!
For love of the game,
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