FT. MYERS, Fla. - Although the Minnesota Twins reassigned Mark Sobolewski to minor league camp Tuesday, that does not dim the hopes Twins management has for the former Sarasota High School star.
Sobolewski went from being the 2006 ABC 7 Male Athlete of the Year to the University of Miami before being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008. Now the Twins picked him up in the Rule 5 Draft, and they don't plan to let him go.
"We have seen him for quite a few years, all the way back to high school and certainly at Miami. We are pretty familiar with Mark. He has done quite a good job in this camp," says Twins GM Terry Ryan.
The Rule 5 Draft used to mean that Sobolewski had to be kept on the Major League team or be offered back to Toronto, but the change allowed the Twins to keep Sobolewski, and cultivate him. “Ron has played him quite a bit in this camp, which is a nice thing. He has fielded well and he certainly has enough arm. The main thing now is to get consistent at-bats," says Ryan.
"I was very excited, not only for the opportunity, but for the fresh start, and a great chance to go with a new team," says Sobolewski.
Before being sent down, Sobo had 6 hits and 6 RBI in 24 at-bats. He can hit, and he can hit for power. His fielding is earning praise as well. The main thing is that the Twins want him, and he wants to be there. “They want me. They want to hold on to me and I want to be here one way or the other. It is my job to go out there, play well, and have fun while getting better."
Just to be on the field at all is a blessing. In December of 2011, just around Christmas, Sobolewski was told he had melanoma. Cancer is never easy to hear, for yourself or someone you love. "Honestly, the worst part about it was trying to tell my wife, my mom and dad, and all of those close to me because I knew how scared they would be. Thankfully, it worked out the way it did."
He is now cancer-free, married, and ready to show the Twins that they made the correct decision by picking him up, and giving him the chance they wanted to give him since his high school days. "You need the opportunity, and uh, any conversation I have had, there is a good opportunity here. All I care about is going out and preparing. Whatever happens, happens."