PEDRO G. BRICENO
In March 2015, the Houston Astros had exhausted their budget availability to sign Cristian Javier, this Wednesday, the native of La Victoria signed up with the franchise in such an exclusive club, which only has two members.
Only a kind of compensation that Major League Baseball grants to Major League teams made it possible for Román Ocumárez, then Scout supervisor for the Astros for Latin America, to turn the already young adult (18 years old) into a member of the equipment.
The reward that MLB grants to the teams is a sum as pyrrhic as 10 thousand dollars per player, Ocumárez made the proposal and at first it was not entirely pleasant, but a series of parameters led to accept it.
Which ones were they? He had made attempts to sign as a gardener, 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 this opportunity that for the young man 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 didn’t attract the attention of franchise executives, although Ocumárez loved that coming from another position and experimenting as a pitcher he probably 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 record was only two months pitching and I immediately thought that with more exercises and improving his preparation, his body would assimilate 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.