Before they were postseason bound: Pirates

Before they were postseason bound: Pirates

The Bucs are headed to the postseason for a third straight year, and here's the skinny on the origins of every player wearing the black and gold.

Gerrit Cole, RHP
Born: Newport Beach, Calif.
DOB: 9/8/90
HS: Orange Lutheran (Calif.) High School
College: UCLA
Minors: Bradenton (A+), Altoona (AA), Indianapolis (AAA)
• Now an ace pitcher, his favorite position as a kid was catcher, his primary position until he was 14 years old.
• As a senior at Orange Lutheran High, he hit seven homers and went 8-2 with a 0.46 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings.
• He played for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in 2009 and '10, going 4-0 with a 1.06 ERA in six games in '09 and winning a silver medal the next year.

Date Result
Oct. 7 CHC 4, PIT 0

Francisco Liriano, LHP
Born: San Cristobal, Dominican Republic
DOB: 10/26/83
HS: Americo Pere (San Cristobal, D.R.) High School
Minors: AZL Giants (R), Salem-Keizer (A-), Hagerstown (A), San Jose (A+), Fort Myers (A+), New Britain (AA), Rochester (AAA)
• He is often compared to Johan Santana, another strikeout-heavy lefty who came through the Twins system. Liriano was traded by the Giants to the Twins, along with longtime closer Joe Nathan, for catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
• Once the Twins' ace, Liriano joined the White Sox rotation in 2012 via midseason trade. The Pirates signed him in 2013, helped him fix his mechanics and turned him into a frontline starting pitcher again.
• He holds the rare distinction of having twice been named the Comeback Player of the Year -- for the American League in 2010 and the National League in 2013.

A.J. Burnett, RHP 
Born: North Little Rock, Ark.
DOB: 1/3/77
HS: Central Arkansas Christian (Ark.) High School
Minors: GCL Mets (R), Kingsport (R), Pittsfield (A-), Kane County (A), Brevard County (A+), Portland (AA), Calgary (AAA)
• At Central Arkansas High School, he was primarily a third baseman and says he only pitched in four games as a senior. His No. 34 jersey was retired there in 2002.
• Burnett's cap and a baseball from his May 12, 2001, no-hitter in San Diego are on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
• The 17-year veteran and 2009 World Series champion made his first career All-Star Game in what he has said will be his final season, but did not pitch in Cincinnati.

Postseason
Before they were postseason bound

Charlie Morton, RHP
Born: Flemington, N.J.
DOB: 11/12/83
HS: Joel Barlow (Conn.) High School 
Minors: GCL Braves (R), Danville (R), Rome (A), Myrtle Beach (A+), Mississippi (AA), Richmond (AAA), Gwinnett (AAA), Indianapolis (AAA)
• He made his Major League debut with the Braves but was traded a year later, along with fellow Pirates starter Jeff Locke, in exchange for outfielder Nate McLouth.
• As a senior in high school, he put together a 1.18 ERA and .127 opponents' average and led his team to the SWC and state playoffs.
• Given his extreme ground-ball tendencies and first name, he has been nicknamed "Ground Chuck" by Pirates fans.

Jeff Locke, LHP
Born: North Conway, N.H.
DOB: 11/20/87
HS: A. Crosby Kennett (N.H.) High School 
Minors: GCL Braves (R), Danville (R), Rome (A), Myrtle Beach (A+), Lynchburg (A+), Bradenton (A+), Altoona (AA), Indianapolis (AAA)
• Locke was named to the National League All-Star team in 2013, his first full season in the Majors, but did not pitch in the game due to lower back tightness.
• In 2012, he was named the Pirates' Minor League Pitcher of the Year after finishing second among Pittsburgh Minor League players in ERA and third in strikeouts.
• Locke was nickamed the "Redstone Rocket" in high school because he lived in the Redstone section of his hometown, North Conway, N.H.

J.A. Happ, LHP
Born: Peru, Ill.
DOB: 10/19/82
HS: St. Bede Academy (Ill.)
College: Northwestern
University Minors: Batavia (A-), Lakewood (A), Reading (AA), Clearwater (A+), Ottawa (AAA), Lehigh Valley (AAA), Oklahoma City (AAA)
• Named the Phillies' Minor League pitcher of the year in 2008 and finished second in the BBWAA's NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2009, the only player named on each of the 32 ballots.
• Attended Northwestern University for three seasons and became the first Wildcat in school history to be named All-Big Ten three seasons in a row. As a junior, he led the Big Ten in ERA and strikeouts.
• A four-year letter winner in baseball and basketball in high school, Happ averaged 22 points his senior season and is the all-time leading scorer in St. Bede Academy history.

Mark Melancon, RHP
Born: Wheat Ridge, Colo.
DOB: 3/28/85
HS: Golden (Colo.) High School
College: University of Arizona
Minors: Staten Island (A-), Tampa (A+), Trenton (AA), Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA), Pawtucket (AAA)
• Sharing the 2009-10 Yankees bullpen with Mariano Rivera helped him perfect the cutter as his money pitch.
• Traveled as an MLB ambassador to Auckland, New Zealand, in 2011, and South Africa in 2013. He also participated in the MLB All-Star Series in Japan last November.
• As a high school quarterback, he threw to cousin Luke Roberts, turning him into an All-State receiver who wound up going to Colorado State.

Tony Watson, LHP
Born: Sioux City, Iowa
DOB: 5/30/85
HS: Dallas Center Grimes (Iowa) High School
College: University of Nebraska
Minors: State College (A-), Hickory (A), Lynchburg (A+), Altoona (AA), Indianapolis (AAA)
• His father, Steve, is still the athletic director at Dallas Center-Grimes High School in Grimes, Iowa, Watson's alma mater.
• Among his teammates at Nebraska were Royals outfielder Alex Gordon and longtime big league reliever Joba Chamberlain. While there, Watson beat out Max Scherzer for a spot on the Big 12 All-Conference team.
• He played baseball, football and basketball in high school and won the Bob Feller Award as Iowa's top pitcher in 2003 after throwing three no-hitters and compiling a state-record 0.10 ERA.

Joakim Soria, RHP
Born: Monclova, Coahuila, Mexico
DOB: 5/18/84
Minors: GCL Dodgers (R), Fort Wayne (A)
• On July 22, he became the first Mexican-born pitcher to reach the 200-save mark.
• Soria has been named to two American League All-Star teams: 2008 and '10. In 2008, he finished the season with more saves (42) than hits allowed (39) for the Royals and was named Kansas City's Pitcher of the Year.
• He pitched for his home country's Team Mexico in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and did not allow a run over two appearances.

Jared Hughes, RHP
Born: Stamford, Conn.
DOB: 7/4/85
HS: Santa Margarita (Calif.) Catholic High School
College: California State University Long Beach
Minors: GCL Pirates (R), Williamsport (A-), Hickory (A), Lynchburg (A+), Altoona (AA), Indianapolis (AAA)
• At Long Beach State, the right side of the infield behind him was third baseman Evan Longoria and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
• His grandfather Lester Hughes spent two years as a shortstop in the Dodgers organization.
• Hughes was drafted and came through the Pirates' system as a starter until transitioning to full-time relief role in 2011. Since then, he's only made two starts -- both on Minor League rehab assignments.

Arquimedes Caminero, RHP
Born: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
DOB: 6/16/87
Minors: DSL Marlins (R), GCL Marlins (R), Jamestown (A-), Greensboro (A), Jupiter (A+), Jacksonville (AA), New Orleans (AAA)
• Full name is Arquimedes Euclides Caminero. Named by his father after a pair of Greek mathematicians: Archimedes and Euclid.
• He was essentially purchased by the Pirates in February, as they acquired him from the Marlins in exchange for cash considerations.
• Caminero was originally signed by the Marlins as an international free agent at 17 and spent the first two years of his professional career pitching in the Dominican Summer League.

Antonio Bastardo, LHP
Born: Hato Mayor del Rey, Dominican Republic
DOB: 9/21/85
HS: Liceo Sol Ana Nolan (San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic)
Minors: GCL Phillies (Rookie), Lakewood (A), Clearwater (A+), Reading (AA), Lehigh Valley (AAA)
• No stranger to the postseason, Bastardo made the playoffs with the Phillies three years in a row, recording five outs over five scoreless appearances.
• He was acquired by the Pirates in December in exchange for Minor League pitcher Joely Rodriguez.
• Bastardo picked up his first Major League save in 2011, recording one out against the Padres following an 8 2/3-inning start by Roy Halladay.

Joe Blanton, RHP
Born: Bowling Green, Ky.
DOB: 12/11/80
HS: Franklin-Simpson (Ky.) High School
College: University of Kentucky
Minors: Vancouver (A-), Kane County (A), Modesto (A+), Midland (AA), Sacramento (AAA)
• He pitched in only two Minor League games in 2014 and sat out the rest of the season, considering retirement until he began playing catch in the offseason with former Pirate Zach Duke.
• In 2005, he set A's rookie records in starts (33) and tied the first-year record for wins (12) while leading American League rookies in ERA and complete games.
• Pitching for the University of Kentucky, Blanton led the Southeastern Conference in 2002 with 133 strikeouts, the eighth-most among Division I pitchers that year.

Rob Scahill, RHP
Born: Winfield, Ill.
DOB: 2/15/87
HS: Willowbrook (Ill.) High School
College: Bradley University
Minors: Tri-City (A-), Modesto (A+), Tulsa (AA), Colorado Springs (AAA)
• Scahill credits Pirates special assistant Jim Benedict for helping him break free of the pitching mindset he developed while pitching in thin air of Rockies' Coors Field and Minor League affiliates, a development that led to his surprising addition to the Pirates' Opening Day roster.
• He began his professional career as a starting pitcher but has not started a game since Sept. 3, 2012, when he pitched for Triple-A Colorado Springs.
• Scahill played baseball, basketball and football in high school and was named the 2005 Villa Park Argus Player of the Year in baseball.

Bobby LaFromboise, LHP
Born: Downey, Calif.
DOB: 6/25/86
HS: Warren (Calif.) High School
College: University of New Mexico
Minors: Everett (A-), Clinton (A), High Desert (A+), Jackson (AA), Tacoma (AAA), El Paso (AAA), Indianapolis (AAA)
• Despite limited Major League experience, he has pitched in the postseason, inducing a ground-ball double play in the Pirates' 2014 NL Wild Card Game loss to the Giants.
• LaFromboise was named to back-to-back Southern League All-Star teams in 2011 and '12.
• He attended Rio Hondo Community College in 2005 and '06 before transferring to the University of New Mexico, where he played two seasons of baseball.

Francisco Cervelli, C
Born: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
DOB: 3/6/86
Minors: DSL Yankees (R), GCL Yankees (R), Staten Island (A-), Tampa (A+), Trenton (AA), Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA)
• Cervelli played for Team Italy during the 2009 World Baseball Classic, because the Venezuelan native's father was born in Italy.
• As an amateur in Venezuela, Cervelli played shortstop and second base and occasionally pitched. The Yankees signed him as an international free agent with the idea of making him a catcher, the position he has played ever since.
• Cervelli is one of the few Pirates with a World Series ring as he was part of the 2009 Yankees' championship team.

Pedro Alvarez, 1B
Born: Valencia, Venezuela
DOB: 2/6/87
HS: Horace Mann (N.Y.) School 
College: Vanderbilt University
Minors: Lynchburg (A+), Altoona (AA), Indianapolis (AAA)
• Alvarez's father-in-law is Pat Murphy, interim manager of the Padres this season. Alvarez is married to Murphy's daughter, Keli, and his father-in-law referred to him as "more than I could ever ask" for in a son.
• Alvarez was a member of the USA National Team at the 2007 Pan Am Games and won a silver medal. He was also part of Team USA at the 2009 World Cup in Europe, where he won a gold medal.
• Alvarez played with a number of future Major Leaguers during his time at Vanderbilt University, notably left-hander David Price, infielder Ryan Flaherty and pitcher Mike Minor.

Neil Walker, 2B
Born: Pittsburgh 
DOB: 9/10/85
HS: Pine-Richland (Pa.) High School
Minors: GCL Pirates (R), Williamsport (A-), Hickory (A), Lynchburg (A+), Altoona (AA), Indianapolis (AAA)
• The Pittsburgh Kid's favorite player growing up? Former Pirates outfielder Andy Van Slyke, because "he was like a gazelle."
• Walker was recruited out of Pine-Richland High to play football. His suitors included Penn State, Michigan, Texas, USC, UCLA and Clemson.
• Walker's father, Tom, spent six seasons with five Major League teams. His brother, Matt, played in the Tigers organization. His sister, Carrie, was a 1,000-point scorer at Wagner College and played as a pro in Ireland.

Jordy Mercer, SS
Born: Taloga, Okla.
DOB: 8/27/86
HS: Taloga (Okla.) High School
College: Oklahoma State University
Minors: State College (A-), Hickory (A), Lynchburg (A+), Altoona (AA), Indianapolis (AAA)
• In the offseason, Mercer runs the combine on his father Rick's 2,000-acre farm in Oklahoma.
• For three years at Oklahoma State, Mercer was the shortstop and closer, ending his career with a school-record 17 saves. His coach there was Frank Anderson, father of the Dodgers' Brett Anderson.
• In an NCAA Tournament game in 2008, Mercer went 3-for-5 with two homers and six RBIs off Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Josh Harrison, 2B/3B/OF
Born: Cincinnati 
DOB: 7/8/87
HS: Princeton (Ohio) High School 
College: University of Cincinnati
Minors: Boise (A-), Peoria (A), Lynchburg (A+), Daytona (A+), Altoona (AA), Indianapolis (AAA)
• Harrison's older brother, Vince Jr., played five years in the Minor Leagues with the Rays, Marlins and Mets and is now a Minor League hitting coach in the D-backs system.
• Harrison's uncle is John Shelby, a former Major League outfielder and Pirates coach who now serves as the Brewers' outfield instructor.
• Harrison was the 36th player in University of Cincinnati history to be selected in the MLB Draft. The sixth-round selection by the Cubs was the Bearcats' highest pick since Kevin Youkilis, who was taken in the eighth round of the 2001 Draft by the Red Sox.

Starling Marte, OF
Born: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
DOB: 10/9/88
Minors: DSL Pirates (R), GCL Pirates (R), West Virginia (A), Lynchburg (A+), Bradenton (A+), Altoona (AA), Indianapolis (AAA)
• Marte is one of three Pirates players to homer in their first Major League plate appearance and the second to do so on the first pitch. The others to do so was Walter Mueller on May 7, 1922, and Don Leppert on June 18, 1961.
• Marte broke through as a prospect in 2011, when he hit .332/.370/.500 and led the Eastern League with 178 hits and 38 doubles. He was that season's Eastern League Rookie of the Year and took part in the 2011 Futures Game in Phoenix.
• Well before agreeing to a six-year, $31 million contract extension with the Pirates in March 2014, Marte was signed out of the Dominican Republic by Pittsburgh scouts Rene Gayo and Chino Valdez for an $85,000 signing bonus.

Andrew McCutchen, OF
Born: Fort Meade, Fla.
DOB: 10/10/86
HS: Fort Meade (Fla.) High School
Minors: GCL Pirates (R), Williamsport (A-), Hickory (A), Altoona (AA), Indianapolis (AAA)
• McCutchen was a teammate of American League All-Star Josh Donaldson on Team Florida, a youth All-Star travel team, and also ran in the same prep circles as Chris Sale and Dee Gordon -- All-Stars from the same Florida neck of the woods.
• McCutchen was the 2005 Gatorade Player of the Year in Florida. He was a multi-sport star, however, as he was also ranked among the top 200 football players in the state and won a track state title in the 4x100 relay as a freshman.
• At 28 years old, McCutchen was named to the Arizona Fall League's Hall of Fame, one of the youngest players to ever merit consideration for the league's highest honor.

Gregory Polanco, OF
Born: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
DOB: 9/14/91
Minors: DSL Pirates (R), GCL Pirates (R), State College (A-), West Virginia (A), Bradenton (A+), Altoona (AA), Indianapolis (AAA)
• After signing out of the Dominican Republic, Polanco spent nearly three full years in Rookie ball and another in Class A before rocketing through three levels of the Pirates' system in 2013.
• Polanco's breakthrough success made him the top prospect in the Pirates' organization before the 2014 season and MLB.com's No. 13 overall prospect. He was widely considered Pittsburgh's best hitting prospect since Andrew McCutchen.
• Offseason workout partners in the offseason with teammate Starling Marte. After wearing down last year, Polanco credits his winter workout regimen for his late-season success this season.

Jung Ho Kang, 3B/SS
Born: Gwangju, South Korea
DOB: 4/5/87
HS: Jaeil High School (Gwangju, South Korea)
• Kang, who is out for the year after a devestating late-season knee injury, is the first hitter to transition straight from the Korean Baseball Organization to the Major Leagues. He spent nine seasons in the KBO, primarily as a shortstop, and hit .356 with 40 home runs and 117 RBIs in his final season with the Nexen Heroes.
• Kang played third base for the Korean national team at the 2010 Asian Games and played for Team Korea in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He began his professional playing career at the age of 19.
• While this is Kang's first season in the United States, he had actually made a previous visit to the Pirates' Florida headquarters. He trained at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla., in 2006 and '07 as a member of the Hyundai Unicorns.

Chris Stewart, C
Born: Fontana, Calif.
DOB: 2/19/82
HS: Canyon Springs (Calif.) High School
College: Riverside Community College
Minors: Bristol (R), Winston-Salem (A+), Birmingham (AA), Charlotte (AAA), Oklahoma (AAA), Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA), Portland (AAA), Fresno (AAA)
• Stewart earned a Bachelor's Degree in Business (University of Phoenix) in 2005, his fourth year in professional baseball.
• In his only season at Riverside Community College, he caught only six games because he was behind Luis Robles, who was considered the best catcher in the state and wound up playing four seasons in the Yankees system. But Stewart was still drafted in the 12th round (White Sox) in 2001, compared to Robles' 18th-round selection in 2002.
• After 10 years in the Minor Leagues, Stewart's first real opportunity in the Majors came as a result of a season-ending injury to Buster Posey with the Giants in 2011. Since then, Stewart has been a big league mainstay with San Francisco, the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh.

Aramis Ramirez, 3B/1B
Born: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
DOB: 6/25/78
HS: Aida Cartagena Portalatin (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)
Minors: Erie (A-), Augusta (A), Lynchburg (A+), Nashville (AAA)
• He made his big league debut with the Pirates in 1998 at 19 years, 11 months and one day of age, becoming the first teenager to appear in a game for the Pirates since outfielder Miguel Dilone in 1974.
• Ramirez was traded away from Pittsburgh in 2003 in one of the club's most disappointing trades, as he and Kenny Lofton were sent to the Cubs in exchange for infielder Jose Hernandez, catcher Matt Bruback and infielder Bobby Hill. Ramirez returned to the Pirates in a July trade that sent reliever Yhonathan Barrios to Milwaukee.
• Ramirez made his first 2,096 career appearances and played 17,878 innings at third base before ever lining up at another position. He began playing first base on Sept. 8.

Michael Morse, 1B/OF
Born: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
DOB: 3/22/82
HS: Nova (Fla.) High School 
Minors: AZL White Sox (R), Bristol (R), Kannapolis (A), Winston-Salem (A+), Birmingham (AA), San Antonio (AA), Tacoma (AAA), Syracuse (AAA)
• He was traded to the Dodgers as part of a three-team deal on July 30 but never reported to Los Angeles. The Dodgers designated him for assignment, and he was traded to the Pirates on July 31.
• As a member of the 2014 World Series champion Giants, he hit the fifth postseason pinch-hit home run in Giants history to tie Game 5 of the NLCS with the Cardinals. Morse also drove in two runs, including the game-winner, in Game 7 of the World Series.
• He graduated in 2000 from Nova High, where he was a first-team all-state selection during his senior year.

Sean Rodriguez, INF/OF
Born: Miami
DOB: 4/26/85
HS: Braddock (Fla.) High School
Minors: AZL Angels (R), Provo (R), Cedar Rapids (A), Rancho Cucamonga (A+), Arkansas (AA), Salt Lake (AAA), Durham (AAA)
• His father, Johnny, manages the State College Spikes, the Cardinals' New York-Penn League affiliate. His brother, Robert, made it as high as Double-A during five seasons in the Nationals organization.
• Rodriguez was named the Angels' Minor League Player of the Year in 2006 and '09. He was highly decorated as a Minor Leaguer, receiving the following awards: 2004 Pioneer League Player of the Year, a 2006 California League All-Star and 2007 Texas League All-Star.
• He began his high school career as a center fielder at Miami Coral Park before transferring to G. Holmes Braddock High School after his sophomore year to play shortstop. While there, he earned 13 All-America honors.

Travis Ishikawa, 1B/OF
Born: Seattle 
DOB: 9/24/83
HS: Federal Way (Wash.) High School
Minors: AZL Giants (R), Salem-Keizer (A-), Hagerstown (A), San Jose (A+), Connecticut (AA), Fresno (AAA), Norfolk (AAA), Charlotte (AAA), Sacramento (AAA)
• One of four players in MLB history to have his first walk-off home run come in a postseason clinching game, Ishikawa hit the home run that sent the 2014 Giants past the Cardinals and into the World Series.
• He was designated for assignment by the Pirates on April 19, 2014, and signed with San Francisco on April 25. He took the opposite path this year, getting designated by the Giants and claimed by the Bucs on July 3.
• His father, Alan, is third-generation Japanese. His great-grandfather emigrated from Japan to California to work on the railroads.

Elias Diaz, C
Born: Maracaibo, Zulia, Venezuela
DOB: 11/17/90
Minors: VZL Pirates (R), GCL Pirates (R), West Virginia (A), Bradenton (A+), Altoona (AA), Indianapolis (AAA)
• He joined the Pirates' active roster for the first time on Sept. 1 but did not make his Major League debut until Sept. 12.
• Diaz split time behind the plate for Triple-A Indianapolis this year, hitting .271 with a .711 OPS and surpassing Tony Sanchez to earn a September call-up from the Pirates.
• He is known for his defense and throwing arm behind the plate and was named "Best Defensive Catcher" in the Eastern League in 2014. Diaz yhrew out 30 percent of would-be basestealers at Indianapolis this year.

Pedro Florimon, INF
Born: La Romana, Dominican Republic
DOB: 12/10/86
Minors: Bluefield (R), Aberdeen (A-), Delmarva (A), Frederick (A+), Bowie (AA), New Britain (AA), Rochester (AAA), Indianapolis (AAA)
• Signed by the Orioles in 2004 as a 17-year-old amateur free agent, he spent eight years in Baltimore's system before being claimed off waivers by the Twins in December 2011.
• Florimon began the 2013 and '14 seasons on the Twins' Opening Day roster. He was then claimed by the Nationals in September 2014 and the Pirates two months later.
• He hit his first career walk-off, a triple in the 15th inning of a game against the D-backs, on Aug. 18. The next day, he was designated for assignment, but he returned to the Pirates on Sept. 2.

Jaff Decker, OF
Born: Phoenix 
DOB: 2/23/90
HS: Sunrise Mountain (Ariz.) High School
Minors: AZL Padres (R), Eugene (A-), Fort Wayne (A), Lake Elsinore (A+), San Antonio (AA), Tucson (AAA), Indianapolis (AAA)
• A first-round pick by the Padres, he received the 2007 Arizona League MVP award and was later named the 2009 Class A Player of the Year
• Decker's first name is pronounced "Jeff." He's named after his uncle, whose name was misspelled as "Jaff" on his birth certificate; his uncle kept the name and lived with it until he died while serving the Army, so the name was passed on to honor him.
• Decker was named the Arizona state high school baseball player of the year as a senior at Sunrise Mountain.

Travis Snider, OF
Born: Kirkland, Wash.
DOB: 2/2/88
HS: Henry M. Jackson (Wash.) High School
Minors: Pulaski (R), Lansing (A), Dunedin (A+), New Hampshire (AA), Syracuse (AAA), Las Vegas (AAA)
• Snider played for the Pirates from 2012-14, then was traded to the Orioles for a pair of Minor League lefties. He started in right field for the Orioles on Opening Day but was released on Aug. 15 before signing with the Pirates as a Minor League free agent on Aug. 20.
• The 2006 graduate of Jackson High led his team to a 27-0 record and a state championship as a senior. He was named the state's top baseball player by Gatorade as he hit .500 with a school-record 11 homers and 45 RBIs.
• He also played running back and linebacker during his high school career, all while serving as a hitting coach for children ages 9 to 16. During final year of high school, was put in charge of running practices three times a week.