Road to majors can involve long bus rides

Peavey impressing, learning with Class A Savannah Sand Gnats

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

Published:

Updated: June 22, 2011, 8:17 PM

 

For the first time in his life, Greg Peavey is getting paid to play baseball. So naturally, there has been a change in his lifestyle as result.

The only problem is … it has gotten worse.

“In college, you’re treated as though you’re in the major leagues,” Peavey said. “You’re staying in nice hotels, flying nice airlines. Now we’re taking 10-hour bus rides.”

The right-handed pitcher isn’t complaining, though. Peavey knows that final destinations often require long waits.

The 22-year-old Vancouver native has been piling up news clippings since he helped lead Hazel Dell Little League to the Little League World Series in 2000, and he has since monopolized the spotlight while starring for Hudson’s Bay High and Oregon State. But now, there is finally some cash involved.

So it is only fitting that Peavey’s been money.

In 14 starts this season with the Savannah (Ga.) Sand Gnats — the New York Mets’ Class A affiliate — Peavey has compiled a record of 6-2, posted an earned run average of 3.12, and recorded 69 strikeouts in 78 innings. Perhaps as impressively, he has walked only 11 batters all year.

Sand Gnats pitching coach Glenn Abbott has been impressed with Peavey’s development, noting that he has learned to stay aggressive no matter what the situation in the game may be. If one wants to return to a life of fancy hotels, after all, he has to believe in himself.

“I think he can play in the big leagues,” Abbott said. “I see him getting better all the time. He has self-confidence, you never see him get too high or low.”

His pitches do, though. At least if you are talking about miles per hour.

Peavey’s fastball hovers in the low 90s, but it is his change-up that has shown the most improvement during his time in the minors. It is that development that has allowed Peavey to stay competitive as he ascends through the minor leagues — and it is no secret that he likes to compete.

Former Hudson’s Bay baseball coach Steve Stebbins remembers how adamant Peavey would be in his desire to stay in the game. He also recalls challenging Peavey to a game of pickleball — a tennis-like game using wooden paddles — beating him, then watching Peavey practice every day in hopes of avenging his loss.

Stebbins was smart enough never to play him again.

“When I coached Greg, it was the easiest two years I had in coaching,” Stebbins said. “When your best player is also your hardest worker, everything just falls in line.”

Most minor leaguers refuse to admit that they are thinking about the big leagues, insisting they are instead focused on their daily improvement. Peavey, however, is not afraid to confess where he has set his sights. He said he feels the pressure and is acutely aware that he has to perform well.

“It’s kind of different now,” he said. “This is your one shot.”

And there are a couple of other adjustments Peavey has had to make as well — a prominent one being the move from the precipitous Northwest to the often sweltering state of Georgia.

The good news, Peavey said, is that the humidity helps keep balls in the park.

The bad news?

“There are a lot of bugs.”

Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or matt.calkins@columbian.com

UPDATE: Greg Peavey was promoted on Wednesday to the Port St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League, high Class A ball.