Baseball takes Czech native from Tucson to Dominican Republic

Posted by : | On : 07-27-2012 | Comments (1)
Baseball players are like pilots when it comes to traveling. Opportunities come up in their playing careers that will land them in new cities and even countries. Daniel Vavrusa, 21, is well aware of this path. A native of Prague, Czech Republic, went to high school for a year at Pusch Ridge Christian Academy in Tucson, Ariz., and is now playing for the New York Yankees’ Dominican Summer League team in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic.

Vavrusa who had been playing for SaBat Prague and Korlarka Praha in the Czech was offered a contract by the Yankees in July of 2011. He considered playing at Cochise College in Douglas, Ariz., before signing with New York.

This year in his first full season in the Dominican he is batting .309 with 19 RBIs and one home run in 24 games. As a catcher, he has thrown out 57 percent of the base runners attempting to steal.

“This is my second year here and I have to say that I have improved so much,” said Vavrusa. “I feel much more comfortable at the plate and behind the plate as well. I just hope that I will keep it up for the rest of the season."

Not only has Vavrusa been able to make adjustments on the field, but also with living in a new country.

“The biggest challenge for me is language. I didn't know any Spanish before I got here. Now I'm doing pretty good.”

This is not the first time Vavrusa has had to acclimate himself to a new country. He spent the 2008-2009 school year in Tucson, attending Pusch Ridge. That year Vavrusa hit .494 with 35 RBIs, starting all 26 games behind the plate for the Lions under the tutelage of head coach Doug Jones, a former major league player. The catcher ignited Pusch Ridge’s scoring rampage in their 2A State Championship victory over San Manuel with an RBI single in the first inning. He accounted for four of the 15 runs the Lions scored that day.

“That is just something I will never forget,” said Vavrusa. “I'm very happy I went there for a year. It was one of the best years of my life.”

Vavrusa had no trouble becoming settled in Tucson. He had previously visited the city many times. At age 12 he attended a Baja Arizona Baseball Academy camp that was run by former Arizona Wildcats head coach Jerry Stitt, a long time friend of Vavrusa’s family. During his time at Pusch Ridge, he also played football and soccer, while living with the family of his fellow Lions teammate Joey DeGroff.

“Being at Pusch Ridge wasn’t just about baseball, not at all. It was about meeting new people and making new friends,” said Vavrusa. “I had a great family that I stayed with the whole year and they are still in my heart.”

After playing in Tucson and now the Dominican Republic, Vavrusa has played baseball in eight different countries, including Italy, Germany, and Russia. The catcher is also a member of the Czech National team, but admits that baseball in his home country is not the same as what he has experienced in America and the Dominican.

“Baseball in Czech Republic doesn't have the tradition like it has in the U.S., or even here in Dominican Republic,” said Vavrusa. “In Czech it is just an amateur sport that people do for fun. In the U.S. the level is just somewhere else. I don't want to say that people in Czech don't play hard, but the level just isn't there yet.”

 

 

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(01) Comment

  1. allen groff` said on

    Message An interesting story about what appears to be a remarkable young man. His attitude communicates what a great spirit he is as he talks about his obvious love for baseball, while at the same time developing strong relationships all along the way. To navigate his way with English while in H.S., then land in D.R. and learn Spanish so quickly that he modestly says that he is already “doing all right” also says much about him. His talent has to have substance or the Yankees would have never signed him. (It seems there are few Europeans who ever arrive with an American baseball team.) All of that simply to say that I will certainly keep my eyes open to see his name as he continues to move through the system.

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