With four recent OPRF graduates pursuing pro baseball dreams, each week Wednesday Journal will be keeping readers informed of their progress.
Blake Whealy, 1998 graduate, is hitting .298 as the starting second baseman for St. Lucie, the New York Mets' affiliate in the advanced Single-A Florida State League. After racking up 23 homers and 82 RBIs in low Single-A ball last year, Whealy has two homers and four RBIs in his first 17 games with St. Lucie. He was selected in the 13th round of the 2002 draft.
Journeyman pitcher Justin Olson, like Whealy a 1998 graduate, is in the starting rotation with Double-A New Britain of the Eastern League, a Minnesota Twins affiliate. Olson was a closer at advanced Single-A Fort Myers in 2004 but became a starter this year. He fell to 1-2 with a 4.05 ERA after losing to Trenton on Sunday. Olson, who worked his way into the Twins' system after playing in an independent league, is averaging exactly one strikeout per inning over his first four starts.
Vasili Spanos, a 1999 graduate, is playing in the California League with Stockton, the advanced Single-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. An 11th-round pick in the 2003 draft, Spanos hit just .125 in his first seven games but raised his average to .286 by week's end, with one homer and eight RBIs. The first baseman/designated hitter was promoted to Stockton after batting .311 in his first full season of pro ball at low Single-A Kane County in 2004.
After graduating midway through his senior year in December 2004, Florida State freshman outfielder Ruairi O'Connor is hitting .230 in 33 games with the Seminoles, currently ranked No. 23 by Baseball America. O'Connor has started 14 games and has two homers and 15 RBIs. He's displayed good plate discipline, with seven walks and eight strikeouts in 61 at-bats through Sunday.
?#34;Compiled by Daniel Heim