With MLB spring training shut, players like River Valley grad Advocate stuck in limbo | Sports

MOHAVE VALLEY — The late Tom Petty used to sing “The waiting is the hardest part.”

At least one Mohave Valley resident agrees with that lyric. 

Josh Advocate, who graduated in 2012 from River Valley High School where he played varsity baseball, has continued his career as a pitcher — first at Long Beach State University and now with the Texas Rangers organization. But Major League Baseball’s lack of spring training has left him in limbo.

MLB is on hold indefinitely due to concerns about the COVID-19 virus that has all but paralyzed most of America. 

And so Advocate stands by at his Fort Mohave home.

“I’m currently waiting for further instruction,” he said, noting that when pro baseball resumes, he could end up in Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee or Spokane, Washington. He pitched last season for the Down East Wood Ducks of the Advanced-A Carolina League.

Advocate’s ultimate goal, of course, is to work his way to the parent Rangers, who drafted him in 2017.

“That is the plan! Last year was the best of my career,” the right-hander said in reference to his 5-2 record and 2.64 earned-run average. “I’m hoping to build off that.”

If MLB resumes soon, Advocate said, he may head to Surprise, home of the Rangers’ spring training complex. Until then, he is striving to stay in shape.

“I have been playing catch with Anthony Shew, a pitcher with the (St. Louis) Cardinals organization,” he said. “As far as workouts, it has been in-home improvised workouts. I’m mainly staying in good cardio shape, keeping the arm fresh and healthy.” 

Billy Fregozo, head coach of the Dust Devils varsity baseball squad, has known Advocate for roughly five years and watched him play for RVHS — but never had the opportunity to coach him. 

“Josh has come out and spent time with our players during the off-season,” said Fregozo. “Just his presence around these kids is huge. The kids really gravitate to him. Being a kid from the valley proves to others growing up in this area that hard work can pay off.”  

River Valley principal Dorn Wilcox said he thinks of Advocate as a “great kid” who has become a role model.

“When in this area, Josh gives back to the students and community,” added Wilcox.

Fregozo asserted that Advocate still has a lot to offer when it comes to the game they both love.

“It’s always fun to listen to his experiences in the minor leagues. Watching Josh and his brother Derek throw the ball around together and watch them interact with each other shows what a special bond those two have,” said Fregozo.

Although Advocate is modest about his good fortune and prefers to credit others — such as mentor and pitching coach Jake Ruckle — he said young athletes can’t be lazy and must take responsibility for their futures.

“One thing that has always been a firmly rooted belief of mine is that I control my own destiny. It is very hard to get out of a small town and the path is not straight. But I truly believe hard work pays off,” Advocate said. 

“You get out what you put in, and I have always found the ‘lucky’ ones almost always are the ones busting it to get better.”

As for the ubiquitous coronavirus, which is the chief reason Advocate is back in Mohave County, his family’s health hasn’t been affected.

“So far, we are all doing well,” he said. “We have been cautious with our activities and following guidelines to help prevent any spread of the virus.”

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