Florence’s Erik Ostberg assigned to AA Montgomery Biscuits to open minor league baseball season

  • Florence’s Erik Ostberg, top center, will open the baseball season at the AA level playing for the Montgomery Biscuits. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Florence’s Erik Ostberg, left, receives a championship ring from Bowling Green Hot Rods manager Jeff Smith at the organization’s spring training facility in Port Charlotte, Fla. WILL VRAGOVIC /TAMPA BAY RAYS—

Staff Writer
Published: 4/3/2022 1:34:37 PM

Uncertainty and anxiety permeate the Tampa Bay Rays spring training clubhouse the day the minor league rosters are posted.

It happens on a board in a hallway like the high school musical cast list.

Relief and purpose filled Florence native Erik Osbterg when he saw he was headed to the Montgomery Biscuits and the AA level out of camp for his fifth professional season. They open Friday at the Mississippi Braves (7:35 p.m., Milb.tv)

“It’s really hard to make a roster out of camp. We let go a lot of really quality players. To cross that hurdle feels very good,” said Ostberg, a Williston Northampton grad. “It feels very rewarding after you go through a month and not knowing really what’s going on.”

The Rays boast one of the deepest minor league talent pools in baseball. MLB.com ranked their farm system No. 1, while ESPN said it was No. 2 behind the Baltimore Orioles. Four Rays affiliates won championships, while the Biscuits reached the championship series and Tampa Bay won the American League East, falling in the division series to Boston. Five of baseball’s top 100 prospects are Rays farm hands.

“When you look around the locker room and you say ‘wow, we’ve got a lot of really good players here.’ That’s just the fact of it. You’re in the cream of the crop,” Ostberg said. “We have so many talented guys. It’s never an easy day. We’re out there pushing the limits.”

The Hartford product will be surrounded by many of the same players he won the High A East title with last season at Bowling Green.

“This team is a team of guys that can play in the big leagues right now. People don’t really know how good AA is. We have an absolutely loaded roster with a ton of talent. It’s top to bottom one of the best teams I’ve ever been on or seen in the minor leagues if I’m being straight up honest,” Ostberg said. “We’ve got that group plus some more ammo. I’m looking at this team like it’s going to be a lot of fun with a lot of talented guys.”

Ostberg, 27, hit .258 in 213 minor league at bats last season. He had 12 home runs and 37 runs batted in. His goal is to play as much catcher as possible with Montgomery while displaying some versatility at first base and picking up as many at bats as the designated hitter that we can.

“I’m focused on walking more, doing more damage on the inside part of the plate, hitting balls really hard, getting on based doing the little things, being dirty on the bases,” Ostberg said. “Playing scrappy defense and throwing the body around to win game.”

It will be Ostberg’s second stint at the AA level after spending two weeks there last season. He was originally called up in early May but went back down to Bowling Green to fill in as an injury replacement. That short time allowed him to know the staff and become familiar with the environment and routine.

“I’m looking forward to getting back in that routine,” Ostberg said. “I’ve had a lot of experience I’ve played in a lot of situations. I can adapt very well and I can compete.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.
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