Greenwich’s Olmstead taken No. 1 overall in Empire League draft

Photo of Scott Ericson
Taylor Olmstead of Greenwich hits into a fielder's choice in the bottom of the fifth inning during the Class LL boys high school baseball playoff game between Greenwich High School and Cheshire High School at Greenwich, Wednesday, May 29, 2013. Greenwich defeated Cheshire, 9-2.

Taylor Olmstead of Greenwich hits into a fielder's choice in the bottom of the fifth inning during the Class LL boys high school baseball playoff game between Greenwich High School and Cheshire High School at Greenwich, Wednesday, May 29, 2013. Greenwich defeated Cheshire, 9-2.

Bob Luckey / Bob Luckey

As long as there is an opportunity to play baseball, Taylor Olmstead is going to continue chasing his dream.

Olmstead has not followed the path he planned to take after graduating from Greenwich High in 2013 but is still grinding and trying to make it in the game he loves.

Olmstead, 25, was drafted No. 1 overall by the Saranac Lake Surge in the annual Empire Baseball League Draft on Sunday, providing him with another shot at getting noticed by professional scouts.

“The tryouts over the last three days were a great experience and a great chance to get my foot in the door of independent pro ball,” Olmstead said. “It is an opportunity to get on the field against high level competition and get on the field in front of MLB scouts. I am extremely fortunate to stay healthy and be in shape where I can still play and keep improving. It’s a good feeling to be out there playing.”

Tryouts were held over the past weekend in Pennsylvania and the season begins Tuesday.

Taylor Olmstead of Greenwich singles in a run during the top of the 7th inning in game against Norwalk during Senior Legion baseball at Greenwich Country Day School, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Greenwich won the game 2-0 as Dylan Callahan pitched a complete game shutout.

Taylor Olmstead of Greenwich singles in a run during the top of the 7th inning in game against Norwalk during Senior Legion baseball at Greenwich Country Day School, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Greenwich won the game 2-0 as Dylan Callahan pitched a complete game shutout.

Bob Luckey / Bob Luckey

The Empire League is a professional baseball developmental independent league which began in 2015. Six teams will compete this season.

Taylor Olmstead of the Greenwich Cannons bats during game against Norwalk in Senior Legion baseball at Greenwich Country Day School, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Greenwich won the game 2-0 as Dylan Callahan pitched a complete game shutout.

Taylor Olmstead of the Greenwich Cannons bats during game against Norwalk in Senior Legion baseball at Greenwich Country Day School, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Greenwich won the game 2-0 as Dylan Callahan pitched a complete game shutout.

Bob Luckey / Bob Luckey

It is akin to Class A level of minor league baseball and provides players to the Frontier League, American Association, Atlantic League and International Pro leagues. Players from the Empire League have signed with MLB teams each of the five years the league has been in operation.

Last year, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Olmstead played in the Empire League for the Plattsburgh Thunderbirds where he hit .360 with a .902 OPS in 26 games, scoring 21 runs while driving in 13.

Coming off an impressive season, he was signed to play in the Frontier League for the Trois-Rivieres Aigles, but the league was suspended due to COVID-19.

Olmstead graduated from Greenwich in 2013 where he was captain of both the football and baseball teams.

In high school, Olmstead was an All-State and All-FCIAC selection in 2012 and 2013 before being drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 13th round of the MLB Draft. He was also All-State and All-FCIAC in football his senior year.

After high school, Olmstead chose to play baseball for UConn over going pro with the Rangers or going to play college football where he had received D-1 offers.

Not finding playing time easy to come by after battling injuries, Olmstead transferred to Southern New Hampshire University where he finished his college career.

Since graduating from SNHU, Olmstead has been working as an instructor at Bobby Valentine’s Sports Academy in Stamford.

The chance to work with young players has had an impact he was not expecting.

“It was a great opportunity to work with kids, but also train myself,” Olmstead said. “I found I was teaching players ways to improve and realizing I could work on some of the same things myself. Being able to work in a place and focus on baseball really helped me improve.”

The lessons he learned were not just physical, but also mental.

“The big thing for me is that I want to show the kids I coach that nobody has the same path in life or in baseball,” Olmstead said. “If you keep working hard and stay humble, you can have opportunities in this game. If you are good enough, it doesn’t matter if you play D-1 or D-2 or just go and make it in an independent league, people will notice you.”

Working at BVSA also allowed Olmstead to reunite with his former coach Mike Abate who also trains players at the academy.

Abate trained Olmstead as a youth player and was his coach for several seasons in American Legion.

A former MLB draft pick himself, Abate gave Olmstead a unique perspective on the game over the last two years.

“We really came full circle. I worked with him so much as a kid and he taught me a lot, especially with my swing,” Olmstead said. “He is a great guy to have in my corner and he has always been there for me. It is cool to rely on him again and having him help me with my preparations to continue playing.”

Sericson@stamfordadvocate.com; @EricsonSports