Winter Garden Tangelos roster packed with local prospects
| 7:55 a.m. June 25, 2015
WINTER GARDEN — Most weekday mornings this summer, before the clock hits noon, the Winter Garden Tangelos are usually full swing into a baseball game.
Under the umbrella of the Florida Collegiate Summer League, the Tangelos are one of seven teams in the Futures Wood-Bat League. Having brought in almost a full team of local players, they have a unique and local perspective that most of the teams do not have.
With 30 years of coaching under his belt, coach Jay Welsh has a wealth of knowledge as well as a deep tie to the community and to the plate.
“This Tangelos team has a very, very local feel to it because of coach Welsh,” Winter Garden Squeeze General Manager Adam Bates said. “That’s why I went after him to be our coach, because he’s very tied to the 2014, 2015, and in turn the 2016 (high school) class — so that was very important.”
Recent West Orange High School graduate and Tangelos pitcher Ryan Ashworth said being able to play close to home over the summer gives the benefit of a good night’s sleep.
“It’s definitely a benefit when I can wake up at 9 and be here at 9:30,” Ashworth said. “It’s nice being in my own environment and being around some of the kids that I’ve known since I was 10 or 12 years old.”
Having a team made of players who have been together since their Little League years gives the Tangelos teammates the benefit of already knowing how to work together while they hope to make a good impression on college and professional scouts.
“It helps them get out of gate and gel more because they’ve known each other,” Bates said. “They’ve either played with or against each other.”
Not only has Ashworth had the opportunity to play with old friends, but also he has been able to meet future teammates with whom he will be playing at Flagler College in the fall. With two other Flagler players on the team, Ashworth has learned what playing in college may be like.
“It’s given me a little bit more sight to see what the new talent is going into college,” he said. “Everybody here is on the next level. This is definitely showing me what the college atmosphere is going to be like.”
Having 25 games to work with each player, Welsh hopes to help them maintain their passion and build trust in their own abilities.
“The most important thing for the players … is the belief and the trust in themselves,” he said. “Because you can play this game somewhere for as long as you want to play it. The minute you stop wanting to play it, it’s time to pack it in.”
After playing in college, being a graduate assistant, coaching independent teams, little league, high school and now summer ball, Welsh said he has always made the choice to continue with baseball.
“The biggest thing I try to instill in them is to keep believing in yourself, and if you love the game, keep playing the game,” he said.
Tyler Hartman, left-fielder for the Tangelos, has exhibited just this. After being out of the game for a year, Hartman decided to return to baseball this summer.
“Being out made me realize that I knew I could play again, and given the chance, I can play here and get my reps back up and get me back ready to play ball,” Hartman said.
Because he coaches so many newly graduated high-school players looking toward started their college careers, Welsh tells his team that playing for the Tangelos is the first step in the process toward success.
“You start here and you play well this year, you play for the Squeeze next year, then maybe you take a year and play for Cape Cod or somewhere outside of Florida to get a different perspective, and then you’re on your way,” he said.
The Tangelos are expecting a successful summer season. The season runs through July.
MEET THE LOCALS
Area players competing for the Winter Garden Tangelos this summer include: