Miles Mastrobuoni’s opportunity

At 25, the product from Livermore continues to make strides towards the big leagues

Miles+Mastrobuoni+was+selected+in+the+14th+round+of+the+2016+MLB+Draft+by+the+Tampa+Bay+Rays+and+has+thrived+at+different+positions.

Via Miles Mastrobuoni

Miles Mastrobuoni was selected in the 14th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays and has thrived at different positions.

By Steven Rissotto, Skyline College

Miles Mastrobuoni sat with his family at the dinner table as a 13-year-old in Livermore, California. While a plate of food was waiting for his attention in front of him, the wide-eyed kid was too distracted, fixated on the baseball game playing on the TV in the background.

Growing up in the East Bay, it’s a normal occurrence to see Giants or A’s hats in the public view. Whether it’s in restaurants or out on the streets of Bay Area cities, green and orange are everywhere. However, Miles was focused on rooting for the New York Yankees, a team that his father, Frank, grew up watching in the 1970s and 1980s. Even though they were a half-hour from the Oakland Coliseum and almost an hour from Oracle Park, rooting for a team other than the Bronx Bombers simply wasn’t allowed in Frank’s view.

After the spaghetti and meatballs were finished and the dishes were washed, the Italian-Irish household would take inventory of the evening’s Yankees game. Frank would lead the way, teaching Miles and his older brother Marcus the beauty of the game.

Derek Jeter became an instant favorite with Miles, who was already a noticeable shortstop for all of his past baseball teams. Along with millions of fellow baseball fans, he even took up wearing number two in honor of the future Hall of Fame shortstop.

“Jeter was my guy growing up,” Mastrobuoni said. “Being a middle-infielder, playing shortstop for a while, just everything about the way he handled himself on and off the field. He did everything the right way, which was something pretty cool to look up to.”

As he continued to grow, more and more weekends would be filled with travel baseball tournaments at fields all over the Bay Area. After attending Granada High School in Livermore, the College of San Mateo began to take notice of his impressive skill set.

“He stood out as someone who was a really good defensive player, a real strapper, and we really liked his intangibles to play the game all-out competitively,” said Doug Williams, CSM’s head baseball coach.

“Coming out of high school, I didn’t want to go to junior college,” Mastrobuoni said. “Looking back on it, that was definitely the best decision I made in my life. When you get to a Division I program, you kind of might get lost in the mix. There’s a lot going on.”

In his two years as a Bulldog in 2014 and 2015, Mastrobuoni hit .330 with 51 stolen bases and 51 RBI in 82 games played. His advanced knowledge of the strike zone showed in his plate discipline statistics, recording 63 walks against 27 strikeouts. Defensively, he was regarded by many as a spectacular force at shortstop. In the latter season, the crew was one game away from playing in the state championship.

“You don’t get to where he’s at without having a little bit of a work ethic, he’s just a baseball rat in every sense of the word,” said Ryan Krainz, Mastrobuoni’s frequent double-play partner at second base. “He showed up to practice early for hitting and defense, and he definitely elevated other people’s game.”

His outstanding play was enough to receive attention from four-year colleges, and with a blink of an eye, he found himself with the University of Nevada, Reno. After a monster junior campaign with the Wolf Pack, the Tampa Bay Rays selected him in the 15th round in 2016.

A baseball trend of recent years has been the expanded versatility of position-players and their ability to seemingly play multiple positions at high levels. As a result, Mastrobuoni has been utilized at second base, center field, left field, third base, and shortstop. He even has pitched in a few games.

“You can’t prepare for a guy like Miles,” said Dylan Isquirdo, his college roommate and teammate. “He’s probably one of the smoothest infielders I’ve ever seen and he’s always been such a well-rounded player. It’s not surprising that he’s up there doing well for the Rays.”

Now entering his fifth season in the Rays organization, he continues to live out his boyhood dream of becoming a professional baseball player. This spring, he received an invitation to participate in his second Major League Spring Training in Port Charlotte, Florida.

He may be in the presence of Rays’ big league stars like Tyler Glasnow and Randy Arozarena, but he still has time for his junior college and the friends he made along the way. He not only regularly visited the CSM campus pre-pandemic, but he also attended Isquirdo’s wedding and promised Krainz a 3-wood golf club.

“Honestly, CSM is a big part of why I’m still playing and where I’m at in my career right now just because of the fact it teaches you to just grind,” Mastrobuoni said. “You’re trying to grow up and CSM did that for me. It was a very good experience.”

This story was originally published on The Skyline View on March 11, 2021.