Chris Bianchiâ€”like many other baseball playersâ€”began playing in Little League T-ball when he was four years old.
He fell in love with the sport when he saw a San Diego Padreâ€™s game on TV one day as a child.
â€œAs soon as I realized Â [baseball] was considered a career, I wanted to play Major League Baseball,â€ Bianchi said. â€œI grew up watching and loving the Padres, so itâ€™s a little weird having an opportunity with their biggest rivals, but I wouldnâ€™t trade it for anything.â€
Bianchi, a 2014 Trinity graduate and standout catcher for the Tigers, had his free-agent contract purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
During his time at Trinity, Bianchi was a key member of the 2014 Tiger squad that went 33-10 and was ranked as high as 11th nationally throughout the season. He helped lead the Tigers to their eighth consecutive Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship, as well as their eighth appearance in the NCAA Playoffs.
Senior pitcher Zack Speer, had this to say about Bianchiâ€™s presence on the team. â€œHe was a leader on the field; we as a pitching staff really responded well to him and his fire and ability behind the plate.â€
During his senior season, Bianchi batted .294 (40-136) with six home runs, 23 RBI, eight doubles and 23 runs scored. His body of work during the season earned him All-SCAC honors at the end of the year.
According to assistant coach Zach Fregosi, â€œChris was a very fiery player. His senior season, he had a leadership role with the pitching staff and did a very good job of giving stability behind the plate.â€
The Tiger baseball team is no stranger to having graduates play in the professional ranks. Over the past 14 years, there have been 21 Tiger baseball playersâ€”including Bianchiâ€”to play professionally. Two other graduates in the class of 2014â€”Christian Muscarello (St. Louis Cardinals) and Kyle Bogese (Philadelphia Phillies)â€”are also currently playing professional baseball.
â€œWe strive to recruit players who we feel are capable of becoming pros,â€ Fregosi said. â€œOur coaches and players have done a tremendous job of taking that talent and helping it grow into opportunity.â€
After graduation, Bianchi played for the Kansas City T-bones, an independent baseball organization.
â€œI had hoped to get drafted in June, but when that didnâ€™t pan out I started going to tryouts all over Texas in the hopes of signing a free agent contract with a team,â€ Bianchi said. â€œAfter hearing I was good enough but that nobody had a roster spot, I started looking at independent teams. Thatâ€™s when the T-Bones contacted me.â€
He began playing with the T-Bones in early September, and played 10 games during the season with the team. In his professional debut, he went 1-2 with two walks in a game against the Grand Prairie Airhogs.
He had resigned to play with the team for another season when he received the Dodgers offer.
â€œI answered it, and it was the Dodgers saying they were looking into signing me. About 10 minutes later I had a text saying, â€˜Congrats. Youâ€™re going to be a Dodger. Go celebrate with your family,â€™â€ Bianchi said. â€œThat was easily the coolest text I have ever gotten.â€
Bianchi is currently assigned to the Dodgerâ€™s minor league affiliate Low-A teamâ€”the Great Lake Loons in Michiganâ€”but he hopes to move quickly up to the High-A levelâ€”Rancho Cucamonga Quakesâ€”to play in California, which closer to home.
â€œI am just trying to make the most of this opportunity,â€ Bianchi said. â€œIâ€™d love to make this my career for as long as I can.â€
For now though, Bianchi is living out the dream of every four-year-old T-ball player in the country; he playing baseball at a professional level.