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June 18, 2010 > Local product selected in MLB draft

Local product selected in MLB draft

By Nick Zambrano
Photos By Don Jedlovec

Before he even threw a pitch this season, Ohlone College pitcher Roberto Padilla knew what was on the line. Having already committed to San Jose State University, the lanky left hander had grown accustomed to what was going on around him. Specifically the group of over 30 scouts holding radar guns for his first pitch against Diablo Valley College in the season opener.

But for this 19-year-old southpaw, pressure comes with the territory. Knowing that the ball will be in his hands for every pitch, he embraced the spotlight and made the moment is own. In front of those scouts Padilla threw five and a third scoreless innings, striking out seven in a 14-2 Ohlone win.

"I didn't feel nervous at all," said Padilla.

Since he was a senior at James Logan High School, Padilla was the apple of every scout's eye. A 6-foot-2, 180-pound kid who is willing to learn, has the desire to win and knows he has to adapt to the game that is evolving around him. He's also a lefty with a healthy repertoire of pitches, including a fastball topping off at 93 miles per hour and a nasty curve ball used primarily for punch outs.

Major League Baseball scouts believed that there is something special about him, as Padilla was nabbed by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 23rd round of the MLB Draft last week (691st overall).

His stint at Ohlone was worthy enough to warrant the pick by the National League West team. From his first pitch as a freshman to his last outing in the 2010 state championship, Padilla was 19-6-1 with 168 strikeouts and had opponents hitting a feeble .231 against him.

Entering the 2010 campaign as a preseason All-American, Padilla was a recipient of numerous awards. Among those notable were the Coast Conference-Pacific Pitcher of the Year and the 2010 Nor-Cal Pitcher of the Year.

"Part of it is a dream come true but it's not there yet, it's not where I want to be," said Padilla, who was already breaking in a Diamondbacks cap.

The selection, in Roberto's mind, is just a small step in the right direction to where he wants to be in his career. He wants to be at the top, in the big show for all of his family and friends to witness. In his mind, it's the MLB or bust and there is no in between.

During the Renegades' championship run, Roberto displayed his MLB-like conditioning and his highly competitive nature with two complete games in a span of less than two days. In those two games, he combined for 18 strikeouts, two earned runs, allowed six hits and six walks. After that, fans began to call him a "warrior."

"When a pitcher is in a groove, he can do that, he can throw up to 200 pitches" said Padilla. "When I say I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it. I have a dream and my dream is to make it there, I'm going to make it there somehow."

He night have some company on his journey to the top.

Ohlone had two other players get their names called in last week's draft. Outfielder Steven Ramos was actually taken a few picks before Padilla (22nd round, 679th overall) by the St. Louis Cardinals; slugger Zach Johnson was picked 1,445th overall by the hometown Oakland Athletics.

Padilla may be a bit envious of Johnson, who was selected by the A's. A fan of the team since he was young, Padilla thought it would be the perfect scenario and stay local throughout his playing career.

"That'd be fun," mentioned Padilla. "I'm an Oakland fan, it would have been cool. I could've said, 'I got drafted and pitched for the A's,' but I have no objections about pitching for anybody."

In spite of the selection, a tough decision lies ahead. Padilla, who has yet to discuss a contract with Arizona, has until the beginning of SJSU's fall classes to make a decision between continuing to pitch collegiate or heading into the Diamondbacks farm team.

Padilla is currently getting some innings in with the Castro Valley Thunder Sox, an independent team comprised of players from Ohlone and Chabot, trying to become the first Ohlone Renegade to play in Major League Baseball.

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