The Evansville Otters have won six of their last eight ball games and are currently ranked 2nd in the West Divison. A large part of their recent success is due to the man behind the plate, Rob Calabrese, who was named to the Frontier League All-Star team this past Friday. Joe Downs has more as the New Yorker gets to return home next week, and play in front of his family.
Rob Calabrese, is just a real character, out of Staten Island,” said Otters Manager Andy McCauley.
From his walk up music to the plate, to his distinctive accent, Otter’s Catcher Rob Calabrese is as New York as they come. The Staten Island native comes to Evansville by way of the San Francisco Giants organization, where he was the odd man out at the end of spring training.
“Just a quality catch and throw catcher,” said McCauley. “Didn’t really get the opportunity with the Giants to catch every day, and you see that a lot.”
“I was just looking for an independent ball team to play on,” said Otters Catcher Rob Calabrese. “My friend, David Cronin, he played with the Evansville Otters last year, and texted him about me and everything started to connect and I found a home here to play in.”
Now having one’s major league dreams derailed so early on can be a bit of a shock to the system. However, Calabrese prefers to look at it as just a detour as well as a learning experience.
“It’s definitely tough, but you know once you get past it, you kind of turn the page,” said Calabrese. “You start to realize that you weren’t the first guy and you’re not going to be the last guy to get released. You learn from what mistakes were made over there and how you can get better from it.”
And Rob has taken those hard-learned lessons to heart, flourishing at the plate as he is leading or near the top of the team in nearly every offensive statistical category.
“Now, getting the opportunity to catch every day, he’s come up with some big hits for us, hitting in the middle of our line-up,” said McCauley. “He’s been certainly a clutch hitter. So, hopefully we can keep him in the line-up more often than not and get him back on track with affiliated baseball.”
“When you’re playing for like different affiliates, everyone’s focus isn’t the team, it’s all about the big league team,” said Calabrese. “But here, everyone’s focused on the Otters, so it’s been great, because everyone cares about us and they just want to see us win and do well.”
Still, both player and manager hope it won’t be long before he’s back with a big league affiliate.
“That position, you’re never too far from the big leagues,” said McCauley. “You’re a foul tip and a check swing away from being in the big leagues. So, hopefully we can get him back on track.”
“The dream is to just get an opportunity to play at a higher level,” said Calabrese. “It’s been a dream since I was younger and I think I’m capable of doing it. So if I can just get that opportunity, it would be awesome.”