After a largely successful collegiate career with the Fairfield Stags, Michael Sansone ‘22 is slowly becoming accustomed to the life of a professional baseball player as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays organization. The 22-year-old recounts the process of what led him to sign with the Rays.
“The process kind of worked through my advisor, who is now my agent, and he had spoken with a few teams,” Sansone says. “The Rays were the most interested amongst the group of teams that reached out, and there was a little bit of uncertainty for me leading up to the draft. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be taken in the later rounds, so I was definitely anticipating a little bit.”
Despite his name not being called in the twenty-round Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, he received a few contract offers upon the draft’s completion. After thoughtful consideration with his inner circle, he decided to sign a contract with the Rays.
According to Sansone, he believes that signing with an organization such as the Rays, one that is renowned for its unique abilities in player development and getting the most out of younger players, was a no-brainer.
“Yeah, they’ve got an unbelievable reputation,” Sansone says. “They’ve been treating me fantastically well. They treat everyone the same, no matter if you were drafted, signed internationally or went undrafted. One of their main sayings is that there’s no special treatment here. So with that message, they have earned great respect from us players. Everyone has been super welcoming here, so I have really enjoyed the first two weeks I have been here now.”
Sansone first arrived at the Rays Spring Training Complex, located in Port Charlotte, Fla., two weeks prior. He has begun play for the Florida Complex League (FCL) Rays, the rookie-level affiliate of the major league club. According to the Minor League Baseball’s official website, Sansone has faced 14 batters in the season, which concluded on Aug. 23, 2022.
Since his arrival, Sansone has described his first two weeks as an “orientation process”. During that time he practiced, participated in meetings and learned the ins-and-outs of how to be a professional baseball player through team-building activities and interactions with his new fellow colleagues in the organization.
“So for the last, ten-or-so days, we’ve had meetings going over expectations, how the organization works, the culture and really all of those things of, you know, getting your feel for the team, how things are gonna play out and all of that stuff. So we’ve been doing a lot of that,” Sansone explained regarding the process.
“And then for practice, pitchers and position players have been separated for the most part and it’s very individualized and guys are just doing their own work,” Sansone further elaborates.
“You’re getting the feel from the coaches down here, and they’re trying to get a feel from you. And it’s all kind of just starting to build those connections with each other and kind of understanding everyone here.”
While adjusting to the life of becoming a professional baseball player, Sansone noted that he surprisingly feels that he has a lot fewer responsibilities to worry about since he graduated from Fairfield University this past May. “I’d say about ten or so days of being in professional baseball, you have a lot more time on your hands along with fewer things to worry about,” the rookie pitcher pointed out.
“And so with that time, things are a lot more relaxed and the pace is slower. Everything is still very regimented, definitely on the professional level. You have to be on time for meetings and workouts and all of that, but now with no school to worry about, there’s not as much to tend to. Everything here is about baseball, and it’s nice to move through your day a little more.”
Sansone had a successful career with the Fairfield University baseball team, going 19-9 in 231.2 innings pitched with 227 strikeouts. Since signing with the Rays, he has pitched in three appearances for the FCL Rays, giving up no earned runs.
The future is bright for the young Cheshire, Conn. native pitcher, and it will be exciting to see what he can accomplish in the coming years as he continues to pursue his dream of pitching at the major-league level.
For more information about the Fairfield University’s baseball team, as well as Fairfield Athletics as a whole, please visit www.fairfieldstags.com for more information, news and updates.