Baseball's in Scribner family

Copyright Peter Wallace – Register Citizen – 7/19/13
In the Northwest Corner and, increasingly, beyond, the name “Scribner” and the word “pitching” have come to mean almost the same thing.
Three sons, Evan, Miles and Troy along with parents Dave and Gail, come close to defining the term “pitching” as a family.
Dave, who starred as a pitcher in Little League and at Ridgefield High School, literally does define the term for students at Thomaston’s Hit Club and Bantam’s Berkshire Batting Club, in private lessons and as pitching coach for Torrington’s P38 American Legion team.
“I pitched so many innings in Little League and high school, my arm was dead by the time I got to (Division II Southern Connecticut State University), said Dave.
That turned him into a slugging first baseman for the Owls, establishing his credentials to coach both pitching and hitting for the area clubs.
Evan, 27, the oldest of the boys — all of whom played for the P38s — opted for a final year of American Legion eligibility instead of a New England Collegiate Baseball League team so he could hit and play the field (shortstop) as well as pitch, after a breakout pitching year at Central Connecticut State University and four years of stardom at Shepaug High School in Washington.
“We (all three brothers) were Yankee fans at the right time,” laughs Evan, who now bounces between the Oakland As and their Triple-A affiliate Sacramento River Cats as a reliever in the rotation of what’s arguably the best MLB bullpen in the country.
“It sparked our passion for the game,” Evan said Saturday, a day after he closed out another win for Sacramento. “Beyond the physical, the mental side is we have a love for the game, and we don’t let anything get in the way of being successful in baseball.”
“He’s a baseball player, not just a pitcher,” says Dave. “He understands the game. He has really good game awareness.”
That’s the bio for all three brothers.
Miles, 25, the only one not yet a pro, is lights-out in the area’s high-quality Tri-State Baseball League. He’s 10-0 for the 14-1 Tri-Town Trojans.
Kidded about not pitching in their latest win, over Amenia, Tuesday night, Miles laughed.
“Yeah, but I played shortstop and got the game-winning RBI,” he said.
Still, their indelible mark comes in pitching, starting with Dave.
“He knows everything about pitching, especially about us,” said Miles, who’s an assistant varsity coach at Immaculate-Danbury. “He could be the greatest pitching coach ever.”
The whole family shares the love of baseball.
“My Mom is as big an influence as my Dad,” says Miles. “She supported us, driving three kids to all those games. That’s why we’ve done so well in pitching — playing three games a day and she was driving us everywhere.”
“Growing up, Dad would stress the fundamentals — a smooth delivery, not changing your mechanics, using your legs…,” says Evan.
“I worked with Sean Meeker (Washington Connie Mack team) recently,” beams Dave. “I showed him how to throw a curve ball correctly and he struck out 11 batters in the next game.”
Dave can analyze his sons, not just as a father, but as a coach.
“Evan’s a relief pitcher. He likes the bullpen. He has that great mentality; he likes the pressure; it doesn’t bother him at all. Also, he’s the kind of kid who can sit for three or four days and not get rusty.”
“My brother will go after somebody a Robinson Cano like any other batter,” said Miles. “I’d be star struck.”
“The first year, I’d say, ‘Oh, wow,’” says Evan, drafted in 2007 and first called up by the San Diego Padres three years ago. “After that, you don’t even think about who you’re facing. You just keep throwing strikes.”
“He’s a two-pitch pitcher — a four-seam fastball and a wicked overhand curve ball,” says Dave. “That’s what makes him a reliever instead of a starter.”
“At the beginning of the year, they were telling me I’d have to go more than two innings, so I worked on a changeup and a cutter, but it took away from my other pitches,” said Evan. “The cutter screws up your wrist action.”
“Curt Young (the A’s pitching coach) has corrected a few things, but mostly he learns from the other pitchers,” said Dave. “They get there at 2 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game and stretch for an hour. They throw all the time, in between lifting and running. He lifts after he pitches.”
“Miles (25) is more of a starting pitcher,” said Dave. “He probably doesn’t throw as hard as the other two, but he locates well and throws two change-ups, a curveball at three different speeds, a four-seamer and a two-seamer fastball. He’s great at setting up people.”
“Me and Miles just go after people,” said Evan. “Troy (who signed with the Houston Astros last month after a stellar career at Sacred Heart) is more of a Greg Maddux type.”
“After we played together last winter, Evan said, ‘Dad, (Miles) could pitch Double-A right now,’” said Dave. “He’s six feet or 6-1, 175. The others are 6-3, 190. He throws completely different from the other two. He looks away when he throws, he doesn’t have the same balance. He’s a pitcher; he doesn’t blow people away; he sets them up and just knows how to get people out.”
“He never got a shot because he played for a Division III team that wasn’t very good,” said Evan. “He has a rubber arm. When I’m home, we (the three brothers) hang out the whole time, talking baseball. We talk to each other about things like how to hold different pitches.”
“We were watching a tape of Evan pitching against the Yankees in fall ball,” said Miles. “It was cool because he was asking me what he should have thrown against Cano.”
“Troy (22) is more of a starting pitcher,” said Dave.
Nevertheless, Houston’s rookie league team, the Gulf Coast League Astros, have used him as a reliever in four of his first five games as a pro.
“They have so many pitchers there, they just want to give them innings,” Dave explained.
Troy graduated this year from Division I Sacred Heart (Fairfield, Connecticut) as the number two all-time school leader in strikeouts (261), innings (344) and wins (26), then got a call from the Astros two days after the draft, inviting him to sign.
“He doesn’t throw quite as hard as Evan,” says Dave, “but he has a real good changeup, curve and fastball. He doesn’t get rattled. He’s one of the top two or three pitchers in that whole (rookie) league.”
In 18.2 innings, through July 10, Troy carried a 1.23 ERA with 20 strikeouts, eight hits and one walk.
“Rookie ball is kind a step below college,” say Evan, 1-1 with Sacramento this year with a 1.48 ERA in 30.1 innings, 18 games. “(Troy) is almost my clone — same velocity, same curve. We’re all very similar in having rubber arms. His fastball has a lot of late wipe. He’s a very smart pitcher; he does what he can to win, not just pitch to strikeouts.”
The future for these talented, likeable guys?
“Just 750 guys in the whole world are major leaguers,” says Dave. “You have to stay healthy and be at the right place at the right time.”
Evan, who’s been on the A’s roster all year (0-0, 5.30 ERA in 12 games, 18.2 innings, with 10 strikeouts, five walks) would be in Oakland now if an errant water jug hadn’t caught his knee in the dugout, laying him up for three days just when the A’s last had him moving up a few weeks ago.
Since then, pitchers have thrown deep, the bullpen stayed fresh.
“You definitely have to be lucky,” said Evan. “Guys that go high in the draft, guys they’ve spent a lot of money on; they’re the ones with the opportunities. Guys like Troy and me, an unsigned free agent and a late draft pick (28th round, 853 overall in 2007), we’re expendable. We’ve got to keep proving it.
“For me, it’s being able to work ahead, to attack the hitter, rather than trying to nibble. I know how important that is for me to be successful.”
So far, the heights for Evan came at the end of last year when he reeled off three stellar innings for the A’s to clinch the American League West over the Rangers, then added another two perfect innings in the American League Division Series against Detroit.
“The playoffs are a whole different experience,” said Evan. “The phone rings and it could be the biggest opportunity in your career, or just another night.”
The most difficult role might be Miles’, seeing his brothers take off in the pros.
“I’ve thought of trying out. It’s something I’d love to do,” said Miles, just two classes short of a postgraduate accounting degree at Western Connecticut State University.
“I didn’t have the greatest (undergraduate) career at WestConn,” says Miles. “It was tough because we always lost. At Litchfield (Tri-Town), they’re more into it; they care about winning and I enjoy winning for them. I really believe I did get better. It’s not all about velocity; it’s throwing the right pitch at the right time. I’m more confident, more focused now.”
Miles had a bitter taste of the tryout process going into his senior year as a Colonial four years ago.
“You had to pay to go,” he says. “Then I waited eight hours and threw 12 pitches. The guy said he’d be in touch, but I never heard from them.
“I’ve been out of school for three years and it gets harder every year. They’re looking for the 18-year-old’s right out of college. Maybe I’m scared of rejection.”
Still, he mulls another tryout, dreading the idea of hitting 40 without at least giving it another shot.
“It would mean the world to my family if all three of us could do it,” he says.