NEXT LEVEL WATCH: Hollands makes Phillies roster

Mario Hollands - Philadelphia Phillies

Mario Hollands, pictured pitching for the UCSB Gauchos in 2010, will make his major league debut in 2014. (Presidio Sports Photo)

With the Major League Baseball season upon us, it’s time to check in on the locally-connected athletes playing in the big leagues.

Former UCSB Gaucho Mario Hollands, a 10th-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010, learned on Saturday that he made the major league roster for the first time. The left-hander, who is listed at 6’5″ and 220 pounds, impressed the club in spring training with a 3.09 era in 11 2/3 innings. He struck out 10 batters and opposing batters hit .244 against him.

From Phillies reporter Austin Laymance on

The 25-year-old had an impressive spring, but that didn’t stop Hollands from expecting the worst when he was called into manager Ryne Sandberg’s office on Saturday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

“In the back of your mind, you’re not expecting it, honestly,” said Hollands, who joins an eight-man bullpen. “But it was a good shock. I’m still in shock a little bit.”

“It’s kind of rewarding, because I’ve been all over the place the last two years in the organization,” Hollands said. “It feels good to know it paid off in the end, to at least make it this far and hopefully keep it going into the season.”

Chris Valaika was one of the Chicago Cubs’ final roster cuts, getting optioned to Minor League camp last week. Valaika, a 2006 third-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds, has bounced around the league after making his major-league debut in 2010. Last year Valaika was with the Miami Marlins but received an invitation to the Cubs spring training.

Speaking of the Reds, Skip Schumaker dislocated his left shoulder and will begin the season on the disabled list. Schumaker, who was with the Dodgers last season and won a World Series title with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011, played for UCSB in 2000 and 2001.

Two other Gaucho greats, Michael Young and Ryan Spilborghs, announced their retirements during the offseason.

From the local prep ranks, Santa Barbara High grad Cord Phelps is with the Baltimore Orioles. Dylan Axelrod, another former Don, made 20 starts for the White Sox last season but will begin the 2014 campaign in the minor leagues with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights.

The Santa Barbara Foresters have several alumni expected to play a big role for their respective MLB teams. Ryan Cook and AJ Griffin are established pitchers for the Oakland Athletics while Tanner Scheppers is set to join the Texas Rangers’ starting rotation.