Their glory days at North Mountain Park, playing for the love of the game, long gone, Ian Kendall and Sam Gaviglio are now learning to deal with the pressure to perform, the monotony of seven-hour bus rides and the weight of an uncertain future in the world of minor league baseball.

Their glory days at North Mountain Park, playing for the love of the game, long gone, Ian Kendall and Sam Gaviglio are now learning to deal with the pressure to perform, the monotony of seven-hour bus rides and the weight of an uncertain future in the world of minor league baseball.

Both former Ashland High pitching stars are seeing regular duty on the mound for their respective teams — the Quad Cities River Bandits for Gaviglio and the Hudson Valley Renegades for Kendall — and both are showing off their enormous potential while also enduring the necessary growing pains.

Kendall, 20, has a 2.70 ERA in 131/3 innings of work pitching for the Renegades, a Class A short season affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. Being used exclusively as a middle reliever, he's struck out 15 batters and walked 10.

Gaviglio, 22, is 4-4 with a 4.94 ERA in 581/3 innings pitched for the River Bandits, a Class A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. A starter who's been in the rotation since the season began, he's struck out 58 batters and walked 14.

Though Kendall graduated from Ashland High two years after Gaviglio in 2010, Kendall was the first to become a professional baseball player after the Rays snatched him in the fifth round that year. He pitched only 41/3 innings that first summer, then went 1-4 with a 4.31 ERA in his first full minor league season last year with the Princeton Rays, the club's rookie league affiliate.

Kendall is pleased with his progress, but says he still has a long way to go.

"Just being more consistent," he said. "It's not really just trying to throw the ball anymore, it's more pitching, trying to locate and be smart with your pitches. And also I'm trying to limit walks, because I've had too many."

Ten walks may not seem like much, but those lost batters may be the difference between a good season and a potentially great one. Kendall so far is winning most of his matchups against right-handers (3.72 ERA, 12 strikeouts, four walks), but has yet to go more than three innings in a game.

Entering games as a setup guy has been an adjustment for Kendall, who was a dominant starter while leading the Grizzlies to the 2010 Class 5A state championship game.

"(Relieving) is about attacking guys and not giving in, and just trying to have fun," said Kendall, a 6-foot right-hander who turned down a scholarship offer from Oregon State to sign with the Rays. "I enjoy what I'm doing because I'm put in pressure situations. Any way that I can help the team out, that's really what I'm looking to do — doing anything I can to help them out because that's what it's about. It's a team sport."

Kendall was speaking by phone on Tuesday from the home of his host family in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., where the Renegades play their home games. He said it was his first day off since the season began June 18.

"It's strenuous sometimes," he said of daily life in the minor leagues. "We get done with games at like 10 or 10:30 (p.m.), then drive four-and-a-half, five hours to the next place, then get to the field at 2 (the next day). But like I said, I'm blessed to be put in the spot that I'm in right now and I'm hopeful that it'll continue."

Gaviglio, who led Ashland to its only state championship in 2008, played three years at Oregon State before the Cardinals selected him in the fifth round in 2011. He pitched only four innings last summer, but has been a workhorse this season, going seven innings or more five times since making his first start May 10.

At times, the 6-foot-1 right-hander has displayed the same dominant stuff that helped him become Oregon State's ace as both a freshman and a junior. During one three-game stretch in late June and early July, he struck out 28 batters with one walk in 171/3 innings. The impressive run included his best outing of the season — a seven-inning effort against the Cedar Rapids Kernels that saw Gaviglio strikeout eight batters without a walk while holding the Kernels scoreless on four hits in seven innings.

"In the beginning it was a little frustrating for me, but I feel like I'm going in the right direction and am just building on each start," said Gaviglio, who was originally selected by the Rays in the 40th round of the 2008 draft, but decided to play for the Beavers instead. "I feel like my last few starts have been going well. I'm trying to focus on what I'm doing well and eliminate mistakes. I think my command is back to where it was in college."

Gaviglio's repertoire has evolved since leaving Ashland. Here, he relied heavily on a wicked change-up, which proved devastating next to his 92 mph fastball. Now, his best pitch is a cutter that runs in on right-handers. That change-up, meanwhile, has been missing in action.

"I've been struggling here and there, using new grips, and I'm just trying to find something that works for me," Gaviglio said of his change-up. "I haven't been using it consistently, and if I do use it it's less than a handful a game.

"The game's always changing and everybody is as well mechanically, but I think I just lost focus with it while trying to develop a breaking ball."

Gaviglio was talking by phone from a motel room in Davenport, Iowa on Tuesday night. He left Davenport at 5 a.m. Wednesday bound for Lancing, Mich., 370 miles due east — or eight hours by bus — for a game against the Lansing Lugnuts.

"That's just something I have to deal with," he said of the constant traveling. "But I love what I do. Not many people get this opportunity. I'm pretty excited that I get the chance to play baseball every day."