by Ashleigh Wheeler, Sports Information Intern
Aaron Seuss and Aaron Hartsock have more than just their first name in common. They were both teammates at CBU and the only former Lancers currently playing in the minor leagues. In 2006, Seuss was named GSAC Player of the Year, while Hartsock was named GSAC Pitcher of the Year. Both were drafted in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft—Hartsock by the Kansas City Royals in 2006 and Seuss by the Washington Nationals in 2007.
Hartsock came to CBU after playing one season each at San Diego Mesa College and Imperial Valley Community College. His older brother, Ross, played for CBU for four years and introduced him to head baseball coach Gary Adcock. After trying out, Adcock noticed Hartsock’s potential and quickly gave him a uniform.
Hartsock spent two years at CBU, and during that time really grew to appreciate the people he was surrounded by, not only his teammates but also his coaches and teachers.
“I really enjoyed my time at CBU because I met some great people and had a lot of good times there,” said Hartsock. “I also liked the friendly atmosphere that the school offers. The coaches and teachers were very caring people who really want to do their best to help others succeed.”
While at CBU, Hartsock blossomed into a go-to hurler, and he attributes much of his success to Adcock, who he credits for preparing him for the next level.
“I really am grateful to have had a great coach like Adcock because he knows so much about the game, and he really did get me ready for playing in the minors by telling me what is out there and how to prepare as a player,” said Hartsock.
Adcock just finished his fifth season at CBU and believes Hartsock had one of the most dominating pitching seasons during his tenure. Adcock describes Hartsock as a true frontline pitcher.
“One of Aaron’s best qualities is that he has, as I would term, a big-league curveball, which makes him a great relief pitcher at the next level,” said Adcock.
Currently, Hartsock plays for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the Royals’ Single-A affiliate in the Carolina League as a relief pitcher. He is 5-4 with a 4.30 ERA in 21 relief appearances. He has struck out 31 in 44 innings. He also made one appearance on the Double-A level, giving up just one run in four innings before being sent back down. Wilmington pitching coach, Steve Luebber describes Hartsock as unflappable while on the mound.
“Aaron has done well,” said Luebber, “He throws a great fastball and also has a big curveball, so he is able to mix it up and either keep our lead if we are up, or if we are down, keep us in the game so we can come back.”
Hartsock believes that it has been consistency that has helped him improve each season. He praises his father and brother for making him stick with baseball even when times got tough.
Life as a minor leaguer is grueling. An average day for Hartsock is to wake up around 10 a.m. and head to the stadium for a pre-game warm up. From there, he eats lunch with his teammates and relaxes a bit before going back on the field for an evening game. After the game Hartsock returns with his team to their hotel around 11:30 p.m. to get some rest before doing it all over again the next day.
“It’s like Groundhog Day, because I do the same thing every day.” Said Hartsock, “It is definitely a grind, but it is what I love to do and I am thankful for the opportunity.”
Life as minor leaguer also requires an intense amount of traveling. He gets to see his family twice every six months and works straight through the holidays.
“I practically live out of a suitcase,” said Hartsock, “You really have to love the sport of baseball to suit up everyday and play, but it is worth it.”
Seuss, meanwhile, is currently playing for the Washington Nationals’ Single-A affiliate Hagerstown Suns of the South Atlantic League as a left outfielder. Seuss ranks among the team leaders in hitting (.306), home runs (10), RBIs (48), runs (36) and doubles (21), and over the course of the past 10 games he is hitting .333 with four doubles, two home runs and 10 RBIs.
Seuss arrived at CBU in the fall of 2004 after playing one season for NCAA Division I UC Riverside. He proceeded to make CBU baseball history, becoming the first-ever NAIA All-American first team selection as a junior in 2006 after tying a school-record with 21 home runs. He then became the first Lancer ever to earn back-to-back All-American first team honors in 2007. His senior year, Seuss served as captain and was not only an instrumental player but also an influential leader. Seuss was not always a vocal leader but rather led by example.
“Seuss was a hard worker and really gave it his all in practice to make sure he was at his best in games,” said Adcock. “He didn’t throw too many bats away, meaning he was a great hitter.”
For Seuss, the transition from college to the minor leagues was smooth. The summer before he was drafted, Seuss played in the Northwoods League, a collegiate wood bat league in Wisconsin that gave him a taste of what life as a minor league player might be like.
He also had help in preparing for the minors while at CBU. One of the things that Adcock does as a coach is to prepare every player he coaches for the next level.
“As a coach I want to give my players a game plan on a mature, self-motivated player,” said Adcock, “You are not ready for pro ball and its rigors if you don't know how to prepare yourself for games. Aaron is blessed with bat speed and strength and I think we were able to give him direction and teach him that hard work and dedication are keys in preparing for a game.”
Seuss comes from a line of baseball players. His father played at The Master’s, while his brother Adam played at UC Riverside and in the New York Mets organization. His brother Jeremy also played at The Master’s and College of Mary (N.D).
“My whole family has been really supportive and helpful, not just my dad and brothers but also my mom and sister,” said Seuss, “They just let me know they are behind me, and they encourage me whenever they can.”
Seuss spends most of his time on the road and away from his family. One day off every few weeks is all the time he gets, but playing baseball is exactly what he wants to be doing.
Both Hartsock and Seuss have been successful at the collegiate level and at the minor league level and both also know that it takes dedication and hard work to get there. They both still keep in touch with Adcock and he checks up on them as well.
“I always go online and check out how each of them is doing and if I see they had a tough game I call them and encourage them to not get discouraged and just to keep up the hard work,” said Adcock.