JUPITER, Fla. -- Astros infielder Joe Sclafani played many games on the back fields at Roger Dean Stadium as a teenager while growing up in nearby Jensen Beach. On Friday, he finally got his chance to play a game on the stadium field with the Astros.
Sclafani, a switch-hitting infielder who projects as a utility player in the big leagues, was thrilled to make the two-hour-plus drive down the Florida Turnpike on Friday to face the Cardinals, who play at Roger Dean Stadium. Sclafani had lots of friends and family members in the stands.
He entered in the Astros' 5-2 loss in the seventh as a pinch-runner and came around to score, and he singled the following inning.
"I lived in New Jersey until I was about 12, but I spent my middle school and high school years here," said Sclafani, who graduated from Dartmouth. "I think we moved to California when I was 21, so I spent nine years of my life here, and middle school and high school are really when you forge the most memories, so it's pretty much my home. That's what I would claim."
Sclafani, drafted in the 14th round in 2012, reached Triple-A last season, where he hit .339 with a .420 on-base percentage, 25 RBIs, 26 walks and only 27 strikeouts in 226 plate appearances. For the season, which Sclafani began at Double-A Corpus Christi, he hit .315 with a .384 on-base percentage, 40 RBIs, 36 walks and 40 strikeouts in 383 plate appearances.
Last season, Sclafani split time between second base and third base, though he's played shortstop and the corner outfield spots in the Minor Leagues. He's carved out a niche as a utility player and has earned the nickname, "Super Joe."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.