Former Forest City Owl Vince Belnome made his major league debut as the starting designated hitter for the Tampa Bay Rays Thursday July 3 versus Detroit. He marks the sixth Coastal Plain League alum to debut during the 2014 season thus far, and the 70th overall.
Belnome played for the 2009 Owls, who finished 51-9 with both a CPL Championship, and a National Championship after earning PG Crosschecker’s final number one ranking as the best summer collegiate team in the nation. That summer Belnome batted .256 with four doubles, one home run and nine RBIs in twelve games for the Owls. His summer league season was cut short after he was drafted and signed by the San Diego Padres in the 28th round of the MLB Amateur Draft in June.
The West Virginia product was traded from the Padres to the Rays in December of 2012. His best season as a Ray’s minor leaguer came last year when he hit .300 with 35 doubles, eight home runs, and 67 RBIs for the Triple-A Durham Bulls.
Belnome was called up earlier in the season but never appeared in a game during his short stay until he was recalled on Thursday. 2014 has been a down year for the versatile infielder, but the Rays showed their confidence in him by still choosing him as a temporary replacement when veteran Yunel Escobar went down injured.
It was a tough night for both Belnome and the Rays as a whole with Detroit ace, and reigning American League Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer on the mound for the Tigers. Belnome finished 0-for-3 with two strikeouts while the Rays as a team managed only two hits all night, losing 8-1.
Belnome became the third player from Forest City to make their major league debut, with all three having played for the nationally recognized 2009 championship team.
About the Coastal Plain League:
The Coastal Plain League is the nation’s hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 18th season in 2014, the CPL features 14 teams playing in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL gives college players the chance to refine their skills with the use of wooden bats. Players are housed with local host families for the summer and past experiences have been very positive for both players and hosts. Further more, the CPL has had over 1,200 alumni drafted and 70 alums – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut thus far; while another notable alum – Russell Wilson – won Super Bowl XLVIII. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at CoastalPlain.com, and be sure to friend us on Facebook (at www.facebook.com/coastalplainleague) and follow us via Twitter (as CPLBaseball).