Norfolk's Terrin Vavra remembers rubbing elbows with MLB stars as a teen

When Triple-A Norfolk infielder and sometimes center fielder Terrin Vavra was a teenager, he got quite an experience in baseball. He learned things that help him today as he plays for the O’s Norfolk affiliate and he closes in on his first call to the major leagues.

He got off to a great start this year for the Tides – and was batting .327 through 13 games – when he suffered a hamstring injury. He would return a little over a month later after a short rehab assignment with high Single-A Aberdeen. He has picked up hitting just as he had in April.

Through 28 games with Norfolk through Sunday's games, Vavra was batting .312/.419/.422 with an OPS of.841 and showing solid walk (13.8) and strikeout rates (16.2) with 18 walks to 21 strikeouts. A third round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies out of the University of Minnesota in 2018, Vavra was added by the Orioles when they traded Mychal Givens to Colorado on Aug. 30, 2020. That deal sent Vavra, Tyler Nevin and a player to be named later to the Orioles. The PTNL became young outfielder Mishael Deson, who is now with low Single-A Delmarva.

But as for Vavra, his baseball education includes rubbing elbows as a teen with players like Joe Mauer, Jim Thome, Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau. His father, Joe, was the hitting coach for the Minnesota Twins during much of his time on their staff from 2006 through 2017 and he later also coached for the Detroit Tigers. Vavra has two older brothers that played in the minors too. Tanner was a 30th round draft pick by Minnesota in 2013 and Trey was selected by the same Twins team a year later in round 33.

That is some impressive family background in the pro game.

“My dad has definitely had a huge impact on me but also my brothers,” Vavra said of his family connection to the sport in a recent interview in Aberdeen. “My brothers got an opportunity in this game. They were both late-round picks and their opportunities were pretty limited and you know, their experience has given me motivation going forward to keep pushing and keep driving. They had that drive and that is what ultimately led them to get to where they went and it’s going to keep pushing me to get further.”

“They are both coaching now. One (Trey) was at the University of Minnesota this past year and the other one (Tanner) is a first-year Div. I assistant at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota too. They are both doing well. They have hung up the spikes so to speak but they can’t walk away from the game.”

And when your dad is an MLB hitting coach, that is some one-on-one instruction better than most kids can get. Even if Dad is away a lot.

“Growing up he was gone a lot of the summers so our time to work together was very limited,” Vavra remembered. “That is why whenever I got to work with him I really tried to soak it all in. But a lot of my best experiences were from the opportunities to be around major leaguers when he was a hitting coach. Tried to watch them and learn from them. It wasn’t necessarily one-on-one instruction, but just watch and learn. Try to soak it all. Really fortunate to have been able to watch those professionals go about it.”

“When I was in middle school and high school in the summer I would get to go watch every game I could and hang out with those guys in the cage. Pick up balls for them, put balls on the tee for guys. Just watch them go about their business. That was extremely helpful.”

Rubbing elbows with players like Mauer and Thome would provide an amazing baseball experience for any kid and Vavra can remember some great stories like Thome once telling him he was figuring out a pitcher as the game went on and soon would go deep against him. Next time up, he homered.

So while his dad was away a lot during his youth, the times he did catch up with his dad during the summers, Vavra got the added bonus of hanging out with MLB players as well.

O's keep it going on the West Coast: The Orioles hammered Seattle 9-2 last night in the series opener to improve to 35-40 for the year and to 4-1 on this road trip.

They improved to 14-10 in June, and clinched their first winning month with at least 10 games since going 17-12 in August of 2017.

The O's bashed five homers in the win, going back-to-back twice in the game. First it was Adley Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle doing so in the third inning and an inning later Anthony Santander and Austin Hays went back-to-back. Jorge Mateo homered in the sixth to produce the club's fifth of the night.

Right-hander Tyler Wells retired the first 14 batters he faced before allowing a homer. But by that the time the O's led 7-0. Wells went five innings to get the win and is now 6-4 with an ERA of 3.23.

O's pitchers allowed two runs or less for the eighth time in the last 11 games. They've allowed just nine runs the last six games and 22 in the past 11. 

The Orioles have now won five of six, eight of 11 and 11 of 16 games. They are 13-8 in the last 21 and 21-16 in 37 games since May 19. They are 17-23 on the road for the year but are 11-7 in their past 18 on the road.

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