As the Myrtle Beach Pelicans begin their season throughout the month of April, infielder Trent Giambrone might qualify as the richest player on the roster in terms of baseball experience.
Now a 23-year-old looking to climb the ladder in the Cubs organization, Giambrone has been around the baseball block plenty in his early years. Before he was drafted in the 25th round in the 2016 MLB Draft, the Louisiana native traveled a collegiate baseball journey that not many under the minor-league spotlight have faced.
After standing out at Grace King High School in Metairie, Louisiana, the LA Dodgers were the first big-league team to call. But according to Giambrone, the time wasn’t right.
“When I was drafted out of high-school, I was just too young,” he said. “I wasn’t ready to sign. I had very good mentors that told me, ‘Man, college would probably be your best bet’ and I had a whole lot of growing up to do.
“I grew up a lot, went through the being away from home adjustment. I had to adjust my game, too. Each level you have to take it up, you have to adjust to your competition and most importantly you have to do what you have to do to stand out.”
Of all the things Giambrone remembers about transitioning from high school to his first opportunity at Jones County Junior College (Mississippi), adjusting to being away from home was the aspect he emphasized as perhaps the most challenging.
“I’m a momma’s boy,” he said with a smile. ”So, being away from my family was tough. They were able to come to every game, but when I made that first step it was kind of like, ‘This is what I want to do with my life, this is where I where I want my career to go so I have to make the adjustments.’”
Off the field Giambrone might have been adjusting, but the performance on the field certainly didn’t falter. In 57 games, he hit .385 with 29 stolen bases, knocking in 51 runs in the process. As he flashed the leather at the JUCO level, comfort began to kick in both on and off the field. And although Giambrone didn’t receive further big-league looks at Jones County, it was an experience that was well worth the time.
“I had a great coaching staff there that really helped me with the transition from high-school to college,” the 5’8” defensive standout noted. “It was a good transition phase for me, being able to be somewhere I played every day I was able to play day in and day out.”
With a lack of attention via the MLB Draft, Giambrone found his next opportunity courtesy of his infield coach at Jones County, Eric Patten.
Patten, a coach who Giambrone credits for teaching him everything he knows about playing the infield, returned to his alma mater Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi to become an assistant coach.
That made the decision an easy one for the second baseman – to Delta State he would go, a move that paid massive dividends.
Giambrone hit .294 in his first year with the Statesmen, but it was last spring’s performance that put his name on the MLB radar yet again.
In his breakout 2016 season, the right-hander hit .386 with a .433 on-base percentage, knocking in 52 RBI and hitting nine HRs in the process.
He committed just three errors in the field and stole 11 bases, well-rounded numbers that had the Cubs calling. He won the ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove Award at second base in the Division-II category and heard his name called with the 764th pick of last June’s Draft.
“I talked to the Cubs a good bit through high-school, junior college and when I decided to stay in school my senior year, they came to a lot of games,” Giambrone said. “I had a good area scout who came to a lot of games. The draft came along and there it was… it was awesome, definitely a good experience.”
Now, after a well-traveled journey throughout the lower levels of college baseball, the American big-league baseball dream is just ahead for Giambrone.
After being drafted, he reported to Eugene (Cubs low-A affiliate) to make a statement with a .404 on-base percentage in 51 games with the Emeralds. Now, he’s one of three Cubs 2016 Draft picks to be promoted to High-A ball, along with top prospects Thomas Hatch (3rd round) and Connor Myers (27th round).
Giambrone is no stranger to exceeding expectations. For now, his recipe for success is unchanged and simple – one step at a time.
“I’m definitely blessed to be here,” he said. “That’s the main thing. But, it’s about not focusing on the big picture. I have to focus on today and tomorrow, take one day at a time, one pitch at a time and not really worry about everything else.”