Recorder file photo Amsterdam Mohawks pitcher Matt Gage delivers a pitch during the first game of a 2012 double header against the Oneonta Outlaws at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam.
Recorder file photo Amsterdam Mohawks pitchers Scott Heath, left, and Mark Leiter Jr. talk with teammates on the bench during a 2012 championship game against Glens Falls at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam.
By MICHAEL KELLY
Before each Amsterdam Mohawks game, public address announcer Bob Malicki goes through a well-honed spiel about how the franchise is turning out professional baseball players in abundance.
Those words don't lack substance behind them.
The Mohawks now have more than 30 former players playing professional baseball, with most competing for the farm teams of Major League Baseball franchises. Through August, I'll use this space to provide weekly updates on how players with local ties are performing in their quest to make it to the big leagues.
All statistics used are through Wednesday's action.
ON AN UPSWING
Even before he threw a pitch for the Mohawks, Mark Leiter Jr. was slated to be a fan favorite in Amsterdam.
The right-handed pitcher from the New Jersey Institute of Technology with the famous baseball name lived up to his billing in Amsterdam, helping the squad to a PGCBL championship in 2012 while piling up strikeouts.
The two-year Mohawk has found success quickly in the minors. The Philadelphia Phillies drafted Leiter in the 22nd round of the 2013 draft, and the right-hander was recently promoted from playing for the franchise's Lakewood affiliate to competing for Clearwater, which plays in the high Single-A Florida State League.
Leiter has taken well to the promotion. The 23-year-old had accrued a 4.38 ERA in 84 1/3 innings in Lakewood before his promotion, but Leiter debuted Saturday for Clearwater with six innings of two-run baseball, in which he struck out six batters and granted no walks.
GAGE'S ENGAGING DEBUT
Even without his ties to the Mohawks, left-handed pitcher Matt Gage is a man of many local connections. The 2011 Broadalbin-Perth graduate and Siena College product pitched for the Mohawks in 2012, a stint which helped launch Gage's career to another level.
Gage was taken in the 10th round of this year's draft by the San Francisco Giants, and the lefty has started well for the Giants' farm team in Arizona's rookie league. Gage has worked as a reliever in a pair of games, both times tossing an inning of perfect baseball.
Gage's best performance came June 30, when he recorded his first professional strikeout in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers' affiliate.
After starring for the Mohawks with his thunderous bat in both 2010 and 2011, catcher Luke Maile has kept chugging along while playing in the Tampa Bay Rays' system.
A former star of the University of Kentucky, Maile was drafted in the eighth round of the 2012 draft. Each year, Maile has advanced a level, and the 23-year-old has played well this season for the Montgomery Biscuits, a Double-A squad.
Maile is hitting .269 in 2014, providing nice pop with 16 extra-base hits, four of which are home runs.
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