FISHKILL, N.Y. — Steve Hiscock remembers growing up in Naugatuck, playing in the Union City Little League and dreaming of becoming a big leaguer. That vision just got a little bit closer to reality.
Earlier this month, Hiscock signed with the Tampa Bay Rays as an undrafted free agent. The 2006 Naugatuck High grad began his professional career last week with the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Rays’ single-A affiliate in the New York-Penn League.
It didn’t take long for the right-handed pitcher to get acquainted with pro ball. Less than a week after striking a deal, Hiscock pitched in his first pro game and earned a victory. While the moment was special, Hiscock took the win in stride.
“I stole a win,” Hiscock joked. He had entered a tied game in the seventh and tossed two scoreless innings.
Simply walking onto the field gave Hiscock a special feeling. Hiscock remembered his days in Little League when his dad, Tim, was a coach, and his mom, Diane, would watch in the stands.
Ten years after he played on the ballfield off Morris Street in Naugatuck, baseball has taken on a new meaning to Hiscock.
“It hit me that this is a job,” Hiscock said. “It’s something you did and enjoyed as a kid, just like any Little Leaguer. Now, it’s my job.”
The journey to professional ball took time. Hiscock pitched two seasons at UConn-Avery Point. In two seasons there, Hiscock went 11-1 with a 1.71 earned run average.
Hiscock spent the last two years at Rollins, a Division II school. He went 7-2 this season with a 3.64 ERA, 90 strikeouts and 42 walks in 100 and two-thirds innings, with two shutouts.
Once in the Sunshine State, Hiscock worked extensively with Rollins’ pitching coach, Jonathan Krot. The coach played a key role in Hiscock’s progression and his signing.
“He did everything he could to help me,” Hiscock said of Krot. “He told me the Rays were looking to sign a couple of arms and (after the draft) I got a call from a scout.”
Hiscock went to Fishkill, N.Y., to the Renegades offices to sign a contract a few days later.
Now Hiscock is officially a minor leaguer, at age 22, and following his passion. He lives with a host family and plays his home games in Fishkill.
“It’s definitely an experience playing in front of 5,000 people,” Hiscock said, while noting that the Renegades typically draw big crowds.
He made an impression with the home crowd on June 23 against the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets’ affiliate, in his first appearance. Hiscock threw two shutout innings, struck out three and faced the minimum en route to gaining his first professional win with his dad in attendance.
“It was great to get my feet wet because I didn’t know what to expect,” Hiscock said. “The win was a bonus.”
Entering play on Tuesday, Hiscock had a 1.50 ERA in three appearances. He says he aims to work hard and keep his sights on the ultimate goal.
“I’m trying to get to the big leagues just like everyone else here,” Hiscock said.