GREAT FALLS — Great Falls Voyagers pitcher Karan Patel is a multi-sport athlete.
During practice he might be seen running a fly pattern like a wide receiver, but his other sport isn’t football. It’s cricket. The UT-San Antonio product played on the Team USA U-19 squad three times, including once as a bowler. Patel says it brings a unique aspect to his approach in baseball.
“It definitely helps the way I spin the ball, just how I can get backspin, because in cricket you are pitching straight-arm — you don’t get to bend your arm when you are delivering the ball, so that helps me create the backspin on my fastball, for sure,” Patel said.
Patel owes his cricket background to his Indian heritage. Though he’s not the first Indian to play pro ball, the Sugar Land, Texas native is the first Indian-American to ever be selected in the MLB Draft. The Chicago White Sox picked him in the seventh round this year.
“It’s unreal. It’s been a goal that I’ve been trying to achieve. Definitely it’s a barrier that’s been broken for us south-Asians, Indian-Americans,” Patel said. “Traditionally we’re doctors and engineers when you go around the country. And now, first Patel or Indian that’s playing baseball that’s been drafted, so hopefully there are many more to come afterwards.”
And his expectations now that he’s in a Voyagers uniform?
“Try to adjust and get comfortable playing professional baseball and help this team in any way possible,” Patel said.