Photos courtesy of the Buffalo Bisons/MiLB.com
Valentino Pascucci, a member of the 1997 Schenectady Mohawks, made his Major League debut for the Montreal Expos on April 26, 2004. Pascucci, a 15th-round pick out of the University of Oklahoma in 1999, appeared in 32 games for Les Expos during the 2004 season. Following the conclusion of the campaign, Pascucci's contract was sold to the Japanese Pacific League's Chiba Lotte Marines. Over the next seven years, the Bellflower, Calif., native played for eight different teams on three separate continents and he spent time in the farm system of five Major League organizations.
On Thurs., Sept. 8, Pascucci returned to a Major League Baseball game for the first time since 2004 as a member of the New York Mets. Pascucci was called up earlier in the week from the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons following the conclusion of the International League's regular season. Thursday night in a game against the Atlanta Braves, he pinch hit for Willie Harris in the bottom of the eighth inning. Pascucci, with Jason Bay on first and two outs, smashed a line-drive single into left field off of Atlanta reliever Eric O'Flaherty. Jason Pridie replaced Pascucci immediately after the base hit as a pinch runner.
Pascucci's debut with the Mets followed a tremendous minor league season with the Buffalo Bisons in which he was chosen as the team's Most Valuable Player. Pascucci topped the Metropolitans AAA affiliate in almost every offensive category including runs scored (58), hits (117), doubles (29), home runs (21), extra-base hits (51), runs batted in (91), walks (76), on-base percentage (.375), slugging percentage (.476) and games played (130). His 91 RBI were the most of any Buffalo player since 2004 and his 26 clouts were the most of any Bison dating back to 2006. At the league level, Val's 91 RBI were the third-most in the loop and he was one of just four players to drive in more than 90 runs.
Before moving to Amsterdam in 2003, the Mohawks franchise resided in Schenectady. Pascucci played for a Schenectady Mohawks team that finished 23-19 under manager Tom Fleenor, now the head baseball coach at USC Sumter. He made his professional debut with the New York-Penn League's Vermont Expos in 1999. The former Mohawk surged through the Montreal system and he reached the Triple-A Edmonton Trappers of the Pacific Coast League in 2003. Pascucci bashed 40 home runs in two seasons in Alberta and he made his Major League debut in 2004 for Montreal. Pascucci and Montreal teammate Brendan Harris, a member of the Schenectady Mohawks in 1999, each hit their first MLB home run in the same game against the Florida Marlins on Sept. 15, 2004.
The Expos then became the Washington Nationals in 2005 however Pascucci's 2005 campaign was spent in Japan with Bobby Valentine's Chiba Lotte Marines. Chiba won the Pacific League championship and went on to triumph in the Japan series, Chiba's first Japanese championship since 1974. In 2006, Pascucci was a member of Team Italy in the first-ever World Baseball Classic. He returned to the Italian squad for the 2009 WBC tournament. Val returned to the United States in 2007 with the Florida Marlins organization. As a member of the Pacific Coast League's Albuquerque Isotopes, Pascucci mashed a career-high 34 home runs and drove in 98 scores over 132 contests. However, the veteran slugger would bounce around the AAA level for the next three seasons between New Orleans, Lehigh Valley, Albuquerque and Portland.
Pascucci began his 12th season of professional baseball in 2010 with the independent Atlantic League's Camden Riversharks. After just 14 games with Camden, Pascucci signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets.
Currently, Pascucci is one of three former Mohawks playing in Major League Baseball. Cord Phelps (2006) is an infielder with the Cleveland Indians while Hunter Pence (2002) is an all-star with the Philadelphia Phillies.