27 Outs Baseball Network

Trenton’s Caleb Frare a rising star in the bullpen

Photo by Tony Capobianco

In certain endeavors, the first experience is usually the most nerve-racking. Such was the case for Trenton Thunder pitcher Caleb Frare on his first appearance as a reliever.

His first appearance came in Opening Day of the 2015 season for the Charleston RiverDogs of the Class A South Atlantic League. Fare spent two years getting over Tommy John surgery prior to that moment and with nerves at its peak, he stepped onto the mound against the Lexington Legends and struck out three batters in 1.1 innings.

“Pretty nerve-racking,” Frare said. “I’ve never really played in a night game before. We had 7,000 in the stands so I was pretty nervous. But I love it now because I have not been that nervous since. I mean, I’ve closed games. I came in during tight ball games. I’ve done just about anything a reliever can do at this point and that was the most nerve-racking moment because not only was I coming out of the bullpen for the first time but it’s my first game since (Tommy John surgery), I haven’t pitched in two years, I don’t remember what it’s like to be on the mound. So that was the most nerve-racking for me.”

Since that first game, Charleston has a special place in Frare’s heart as his favorite town to pitch so far in his professional baseball career.

“Just the atmosphere, the fans,” Frare said, “they don’t care if they’re with the Yankees or not. I guarantee you almost all the fans there that come to the game aren’t Yankee fans. They’re RiverDog fans and it’s really cool to see a fan base come around.”

Frare finished the 2015 season in Tampa with a total of 58 strikeouts in 55.5 innings. It was his first mid-season promotion and the very idea of moving up a spot took a while to sink in.

“I just couldn’t get it through my mind during the last month of that season that it wasn’t different,” Frare said. “Guys are just a little bit better but I’ve also proven I’m a little bit better. So you can handle it but I just couldn’t get through my mind that I could handle it.”

He pitched seven games for the Tampa Yankees to finish out the 2015 season and gave up six earned runs but came back the next year and allowed one less run through 32 games for a 0.92 ERA.

Frare has come a long way since being drafted by the New York Yankees in 2012 out of Custer County High School in Miles City, Montana. He was selected in the 11th round out of a state that doesn’t even have high school baseball. Montana has club baseball during the summer, which includes playing teams in Wyoming, which has a similar system.

“There was no teams around us so we had to venture out and find a quality team to play against us,” Frare said.

While the high altitude is hard on the lungs of visitors, and there is a huge difference between Montana and Wyoming, Frare, thrived in it.

“I loved it,” Frare said. “My pitches were better. My fastball was harder, breaking balls sharper, I loved it.”

Maybe one day, Frare will eventually get his first big league call-up just to pitch at Coors Field.

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