Like many students entering their last year of college, GW undergrad Anthony Raglani and his friends traveled this summer, visiting ballparks all over the southeastern region of the United States. The group took buses from stadium to stadium and, upon arrival, claimed their seats field-side. There was only one thing different. Raglani and his teammates on the Jacksonville Suns, a minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, had arrived in the dugout for that day’s game.
After playing three seasons for GW, Raglani was selected in the fifth round of the 2004 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft and plays the outfield for the Suns.
“I felt as if a huge load had been taken off my shoulders,” Raglani said of draft day.
He was expected to be drafted two rounds earlier, but likely slipped due to a broken right hand that required surgery after the draft. Since then, he has ascended through the ranks of the Dodgers’ farm system. The outfielder recently completed his second full season at the AA level, leading the Southern League in walks and games played, while hitting .248.
From March to September, his focus is on the field. The rest of the year, it’s mostly in the classroom, where he is two semesters shy of degrees in business economics and public policy. After playing for GW’s baseball team from 2002 to 2004, and earning All-Atlantic 10 first team honors in 2004, Raglani was drafted by the Dodgers and did not have time to take classes. Raglani intends to continue playing baseball professionally, but attaining his degree remains a priority.
“After I’m done with my playing career, I definitely want to do something meaningful with what I studied at GW,” said Raglani, who lives with his fianc?e Molly in the District.
Between his full 15-hour course load and workouts five days a week, the Indiana, Pa., native has little time to be a regular college student.
The rigors of a full minor league season take a toll on athlete’s bodies and Raglani is no exception, but staying healthy is not the only difficulty of playing in the minor leagues. In professional baseball, team rosters change on a daily basis as players are often being promoted or demoted to a different team. On the last day of the season, Raglani said his manager posted the team’s opening day lineup card next to the game’s batting order as a way of showing how much the makeup of the team had changed over the course of the season. Although Raglani doesn’t like to see his friends leave, he understands the nature of the business of baseball.
“As a professional, athletes are essentially investments made by the organization and are treated as such,” he said.
At GW, Raglani’s teammates remained the same throughout the season, something that cannot be said for his Jacksonville team. He said his GW teams were more racially and culturally homogeneous than any of the pro teams he has played on. Although the outfielder enjoyed the camaraderie and chemistry of the teams at GW, he finds it equally rewarding to share a clubhouse with a group of diverse individuals like his teammates on the Suns.
Despite his relative success since being drafted, the left-handed hitting Raglani has one dream that remains a motivating factor.
“One year from now, I want to be in the big leagues,” he said.