Major-League Debut Caps Whirlwind Sunday For Vasto

(Steven R. Smith, courtesy Jerry Vasto, Dave Schofield/Lakewood Blue Claws)
(Steven R. Smith, courtesy Jerry Vasto, Dave Schofield/Lakewood Blue Claws)

RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Beginning late Saturday night, Felician University graduate Jerry Vasto '15 experienced a 24-hour period about which many young men dream – but not many sleep doctors would recommend.

Vasto spent four seasons as a left-handed pitcher for the Felician baseball team. As a redshirt junior in 2014, he won the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Pitcher of the Year Award, earned Honorable Mention Division II All-America honors and helped lead coach Chris Langan and the Golden Falcons to their first CACC championship. That June, Colorado Rockies scout Mike Garlatti convinced his employer to spend a 24th-round draft choice on the Henry Hudson Regional product.

After his first professional season, Vasto returned to Felician to complete his bachelor's degree in business administration. Meanwhile. a move to the bullpen had suited him well. As his fastball velocity and command improved and his slider became a viable secondary pitch, he steadily began to move through the Rockies' minor league system. In April, Vasto began his fifth pro campaign with a return trip to the Class-AAA Albuquerque Isotopes

The Isotopes spent the weekend playing a wrap-around four-game series in Omaha, Neb. After Albuquerque's loss on Saturday night, Vasto's own weekend was just getting started. Isotopes manager Glenallen Hill informed Vasto of his immediate promotion to the major leagues.

"It was pretty crazy," Vasto told via text message on Monday, a scheduled off day for the Rockies. "I was told the news after our game in Omaha. I had to go to my hotel room to get ready to head out to Denver early (Sunday) morning for the Rockies' day game. I landed in Denver and went straight to Coors Field."

En route to the stadium, Vasto ran into a player he knew from the minor league system, Zac Rosscup, who acted as his guide. He was sent to meet with field manager Bud Black and the coaching staff. While it was then time to get down to business, Vasto briefly allowed himself to soak in the atmosphere.

"Warming up for the game was everything you dream about," he said. "It's something that I will never forget. Once the game started and it was time to get ready in the bullpen, I just tried to treat it like any other game. But obviously, it's different being in bigger stadiums with more fans. With it being my first game in the big leagues, there were definitely a little bit more emotions."

After the craziness of getting news of his promotion, telling his family, traveling to Denver, and navigating Coors Field, Vasto's next task was to figure out how to retire major-league hitters. He was called upon by Black to start the seventh inning with Colorado trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-2. It was not a storybook ending, as Vasto yielded three runs in 2/3 of an inning, including a two-run triple to All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.

"Obviously, you want to put up a zero whenever you are on the mound," Vasto said, "but it doesn't always work out that way. Regardless of the results, I'm glad to have that first outing under my belt and to learn from it."

Another plane ride awaited Vasto postgame, as the Rockies had completed a homestand. Colorado headed to Philadelphia, where after today's off day, it will face the Phillies on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and Thursday afternoon. The Phillies' stadium, Citizens Bank Park, is only 92 miles from Vasto's childhood home in Atlantic Highlands, N.J.

"I'm excited to be in Philadelphia," Vasto said. "This is a special time and I am grateful to be able to see family and friends and share these moments with them. I'm also very thankful to the Felician University community, especially the baseball community and the athletics staff, for all the support."

He can count his college coach among those supporters.

"I'm not alone in how excited I am to share this with Jerry," said Langan, who recently completed his 15th season leading the Felician baseball team. "Having the next series in Philadelphia only heightens the moment. I know friends that are renting a party bus and heading to a game. I personally will be there with my family on Wednesday hoping to catch a glimpse."

Hopefully by then, Vasto will have had time to let the reality of being a major-leaguer sink in – and have caught up on his sleep.

Transaction Release coverage

Denver Post
Purple Row blog
Pre-game Interview
Video of First Strikeout
2014 Pre-Draft Felician Profile