PEDRO G. BRICENO
As of March 2015, the Houston Astros had exhausted its budget availability to sign Cristian Javier, This Wednesday, the native of La Victoria joined the franchise in a club so exclusive that it only has two members.
Only a kind of compensation that Major League Baseball grants to Major League teams made it possible for Román Ocumárez, by then the Astros’ Scout supervisor for Latin America could then turn the already young adult (18 years old) into a member of the team.
The reward that MLB gives to the teams It is a sum as pyrrhic as 10 thousand dollars per playerOcumárez made the proposal and at first it was not entirely pleasant, but a series of parameters led to accepting it.
What were they?
He had made attempts to sign as an outfielder, he was already 18 years old, the other organizations already had their wallets empty and the most important thing was a wide hunger to sign and not miss out on this opportunity that for the young man it could well be the last proposal.
That is when the definitive yes arrives after a common agreement with his coach, because he needed the money, anyway, his origin is very poor, a boy from the town of La Victoria, one of those who cling to baseball as the main north for out of poverty.
An 18-year-old former outfielder with a fastball that ran 84-86 miles, he did not attract the attention of franchise executives, although Ocumárez loved that coming from another position and experimenting as a pitcher would probably he owned a healthy arm.
“A fact that I liked about him is that every time I watched him, he was more impressive in each of the four times I watched him, his progress was very much on the rise and I could see on his face the interest in doing it better and better every time”, said Ocumárez, the main architect so that today Javier, Framber Valdez and Bryan Abreu make the Astros a more resplendent team.
in observing it
Leocadio Guevara, area scout for the Astros, was the first to have Javier in his hands and who gave his first “His track record was just two months throwing and immediately I thought that with more exercises and improving his preparation, that his body assimilates him as a pitcher, they would increase the number of miles, but he already had the issue of age against him, but we decided to continue observing him for the next few weeks to see his progress,” says Ocumárez.
He remembers that when he sees his progress, he immediately communicates with his superior, Oz Ocampo, and informs him about the powers possessed by the Astros’ current record man, who today, along with three other relievers, becomes 66 years later just the second with a no hitter in the World Series, a feat only achieved by Don Larsen.
He points out that his progress was dizzying for the fourth time I watched him, he was much looser, and his fastball was around 89-90 miles, in addition to higher quality secondary pitches and here he continued to interest us more and more.
He was never a great prospect.
“I told him that if he threw several pitches to me at 90 miles, he signed you right now, but it was raining and he threw in the batter’s box, but since I had already observed it against hitters, I contacted Ocampo and told him that we should sign him, I told him that he wouldn’t necessarily be a power pitcher, but that he could help,” he says.
Javier was never among the top 30 prospects in the organization, at least not until in 2020 he won the distinction as Pitcher of the Year and that is when he is promoted to the Astros, a club from which he is here to stay.
What happened this Wednesday was something impressive for the Dominican, whose six innings without a hitter opened the doors for the great achievement that just materialized.