Former all-state catcher for Bears
BROCKTON, MA -- New England has become one of many homes for Mt. Juliet High School alum Marshall Gei.
Gei was born in Tennessee but spent most of his childhood in Georgetown, Kentucky.
He spent two years in Mt. Juliet and now, his family lives in Northern Kentucky.
Before last year, he had never been to New England
Last summer, the Kentucky Wildcat catcher starred behind the plate for the Brockton Rox (Brockton, Massachusetts) of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. He hit .373 with a .416 on-base percentage in 24 games.
The rising redshirt sophomore wanted to play for them again this summer. But he looked too late and their roster was already full.
Even so, his old Rox head coach Jason Szafarski, helped him find a spot in the league -- with the Seacoast Mavericks (Portsmouth, New Hampshire).
On June 15, Gei made his way back to Brockton and while he enjoyed his return, he is committed to the Mavericks this summer.
"I loved it in Brockton," he said. "It was a great place. I was glad to be back. They welcomed me pretty well. They played my walk up going out. That was really cool. I got to see some of the guys from Kentucky as well. But I'm loving the Seacoast. It's a great area."
Gei has also committed himself to the weight room, tacking on an addition 30 pounds since the start of his Wildcats career.
"I just got sick of hearing, 'Hey, you need to put on weight,'" he explained.
"I really attacked it this offseason and I feel better than before. I really appreciate what Kentucky has done for me, helping me get strong and allowing me to stay with the team. It's been awesome."
And he is committed to his work behind the plate.
As a true freshman, Gei helped solve his team's depth woes at practice by taking reps at second and third base.
While he did not see any action behind the plate the Wildcats this past season, he is embracing his opportunity as the Mavericks full-time catcher.
"I really enjoy it," he said. "I'm getting a lot of work in behind the plate this summer. It's awesome. I'm more conditioned behind the plate.
"I'm learning leadership skills -- how to talk to people, how to communicate. It's a really great group of guys to work with. I'm loving it."
Mechanically, Gei said behind the plate, he is trying to stay more still when he receives and wants to do a better job on transfers while trying to throw runners out.
The Futures League tenure serves as the perfect opportunity for the self-made switch-hitter to improve his bat from both sides of the plate by seeing live pitching.
Gei started switch-hitting at eight years old and by middle school, he felt comfortable enough with it to try it in games.
"It was really an experiment with me and my dad (Guillermo)," he explained.
"He noticed whenever I hit from the right side because that's where I started, I liked hitting against a lefty more.
"It was kind of an experiment because when I was a young kid, I wanted to hit left and throw left.
"It just came naturally. He saw progress (switch-hitting) and we kind of stayed with it."
From what Gei said, it is possible he is a natural lefty -- which would explain why he said he feels just as comfortable from both sides of the plate now.
Through 11 games with the Mavericks, he is hitting .333 with five RBI.
Gei's focus is finding playing time at Kentucky while working towards a physics and chemistry degree.
But if an opportunity for playing time does not present itself at Kentucky, perhaps Gei can take his Futures League success and look for playing time elsewhere.
While another Division I program could be a possibility, local NAIA powerhouse Cumberland University is another option and a place where he could make an immediate impact.
"I know the coach," he said in reference to NAIA Hall of Famer Woody Hunt. He knows me. I have friends at Cumberland.
"I think an opportunity is there if need be. But right now, I'm still with Kentucky."
Gei spent two of his four varsity seasons at Mt. Juliet High School and was named to the 2014 Tennessee Sports Writers Association 9-AAA All-State team.
He hit .473 with 35 RBI for the Golden Bears as a senior.
"I loved Mt. Juliet. It was a great place," he said. "I really enjoyed it.
"In Louisville, there was some great baseball and great talent.
"But in Tennessee, they go all-out. They try to make you prepared for college as far as workouts, team and team chemistry. It was awesome.
"I loved the experience down there. It's a great group of people out there. They're just nice and welcoming. I couldn't have picked a better school to go to."