|Arrieta To Live Olympic Dream|
By Ben O’Brien
Orioles farmhand Jake Arrieta has a promising future. In his short professional career, he has been called a rising star and been heaped with all the praise a top-flight prospect demands. But the 22-year-old knows he still has to prove he deserves that praise.
If his 6-4 record and 2.75 ERA for the Single-A Frederick Keys this season aren’t proof enough, how does starting pitcher for Team USA in the 2008 Olympic Games sound?
“I grew up watching the Olympics,” he said. “I never thought that I would be called an Olympian or have the opportunity ever in my life. It’s funny and kind of weird to think about.”
Arrieta’s excitement speaks volumes, as the youngster is no stranger to prestigious honors and the publicity that follows.
He pitched with Team USA after his sophomore season at Texas Christian University, going 4-0 with a stellar 0.27 ERA on the Red, White and Blue Tour in the summer of 2006.
Following college, Arrieta received a $1.1 million signing bonus after the Orioles picked him in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. He started this season with the Keys and was overpowering in his first 10 starts, going 5-0 with a 1.51 ERA. Last month he was rewarded for his efforts with a selection to the Carolina/California League All-Star Game in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He started and worked a scoreless inning to earn Pitcher of the Game honors.
“I got to play for the national team in 2006,” Arrieta said. “The biggest thing is to just wear the USA uniform again. It brings back a lot of memories, like playing in Cuba and playing for a medal. Just being chosen to have that opportunity on a stage like the Olympics is really great. All my other accomplishments so far don’t compare; it is something that I will never forget for the rest of my life.”
The team, led by former Orioles manager Davey Johnson, will be together on the field for the first time with four exhibition games against Canada in North Carolina Aug. 1-4. Arrieta will make one start there and will look to fall into place in whatever rotation Johnson draws up. Then the team will depart for Beijing, where Opening Ceremonies
While Arrieta will be away from Frederick for an extended period of time, the righty knows he will still be competing, and when he returns he will be ready to continue moving through the O’s farm system.
“I don’t know how many starts I am going to get,” he said. “I should get a start in North Carolina before we go and two or three starts after that. If there ever comes a time where I have to relieve to help my team win, I will do it.”
When he isn’t on the mound, Arrieta will just be taking it all in.
“There are a lot of things that I could say are highlights of my career,” he said. “But the Olympics will be the biggest highlight for sure. A dream for any player.”
Issue 3.30: July 24, 2008