A Journey From The Bay Area, Across The World, And Back
Baseball has provided me incredible opportunities and experiences in my life, and my goal with Bay Area Ballplayers is to instill in the next generation the tools and skills that will help them reach their potential.
At the youth and high school levels, I was never the best player on my team. But I loved sports and always had a passion to get better. I played football, basketball and baseball at Alhambra High School and graduated in 2000 after playing at the Oakland Coliseum in the NCS Championship game. I was unrecruited by 4 year schools, so I chose to attend Sacramento City College to play baseball rather than try to walk on at Cal Poly – SLO. At Sac City, I was taught hard work, discipline and mental skills that would help shape the rest of my baseball career. I dealt with an elbow injury for my first 2 years and only pitched 30 innings over the next 2 years because I was simply 8th or 9th on the depth chart on teams that had 12 players drafted.
Again, after junior college, I had nowhere to play the following year. My coaches at Sac City helped get me on a summer ball team in a wood bat league in Illinois. I jumped at the opportunity and at 22 years old, this is where I blossomed. I took my pitching to the next level and finished the summer with several schools recruiting me to play for them the following season. With every top school haven awarded all of their scholarship money already, tuition played a factor in my decision of where to attend. My final 3 choices were Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara and LSU. After one conversation with then-pitching coach Troy Buckley, I knew I wanted to be a Dirtbag!
Because of transfer requirements going to a Division 1 school, I needed to take 21 upper division credits in my first semester at Long Beach, on top of 6am weight training sessions and a full practice schedule. Rather than be overwhelmed, I learned how to manage time effectively, prep meals in advance, and use any down time to study for the 7 classes I was taking. This discipline was incredibly valuable, and I finished the semester with a 3.7 GPA and was awarded a full scholarship for my tuition in the spring semester by my coaches.
At Long Beach, I played on a team that was nationally ranked and led all of Division 1 baseball in ERA. With 5 future MLB players including Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria, we had an amazing group of talent. The season ended in disappointment, losing at home in the Regionals. But along with 8 other draftees, I was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 6th round of the 2005 draft.
As a 23 year old having played at 2 great schools and having experiences that few newly-drafted players had, I gained the confidence to hit the ground running from the day I put on a pro jersey. I moved up the minor league ladder quickly and found myself in AA just 12 months after signing my contract. In 2008, the Brewers traded me to the San Francisco Giants for 2B Ray Durham. I played AAA in the Giants organization for a year and a half, but injuries to my shoulder, hip, and lower back led to poor performance and ultimately being released from my contract in spring training of 2010.
Rather than this be the end of my journey, I tapped into the resiliency I learned in college, as well as seeking out the best sports performance coaches and physical therapists I could find. Over the next 6 years, I went on a whirlwind tour playing ball in 6 countries, including 3 years in Japan, before my elbow finally had enough and I needed Tommy John surgery in 2015.
All told, I went from being an unrecruited high school player, to pitching more than 1400 innings over 11 professional seasons.
The game has given so much to me that I feel it’s my purpose to pay it forward and provide the next generation of athletes with the opportunity to chase their dreams!