Season comes to end for boys of summer

Pro Prospect Watch

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By DANIEL HEIM

With four recent area graduates pursuing pro baseball dreams, Wednesday Journal has been keeping readers informed of their progress each week throughout the summer. Since the season has ended, this recap will be the final edition of the year. Stay tuned next year for continued coverage of area prospects.

Justin Olson, a 1998 OPRF graduate, went 9-8 with a 4.79 ERA in his first season with Minnesota's Double-A affiliate, the New Britain Rock Cats of the Eastern League. Making 31 appearances (15 starts), Olson struck out 103 batters in 109 innings?#34;8.5 K's per nine innings pitched. He fared best as a reliever, going 3-1 with a 3.52 ERA out of the pen as compared to 6-7, 5.29 as a starter. In one stretch in early June, Olson won three consecutive relief outings by allowing one run in 5 2/3 innings. Olson also excelled at home, posting a 5-3, 3.48 mark at New Britain Stadium while going 4-5, 5.97 on the road. At the risk of going too far, consider this: In 11 home relief appearances, Olson was 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings.

Fenwick's Mike Santoro finished his first season of pro ball with a .200 average (13-for-65), one home run, and 10 RBIs in 24 games. Santoro, who was drafted by the Giants in the 49th round (1469th overall) of the 2004 draft but didn't sign until this year, played 10 games with short-season Single A Salem before finishing the year with San Francisco's rookie club in the Arizona Summer League. He got only 27 at-bats in his month with Salem, hitting .148, but enjoyed considerably more playing time in Arizona. Among his nine hits with the rookie club were four doubles, a triple, and a homer.

Infielder/DH Vasili Spanos, a 13th-round pick in the 2003 draft, batted .284 with 15 homers and 84 RBIs in 430 at-bats split between Oakland's high Single A Stockton and Double A Midland affiliates. He began the season with Stockton and obliterated California League pitching, hitting .315 with nine homers and 56 RBIs over his first 68 games. That earned Spanos a late-June promotion to Midland, where he got off to a great start, hitting .273 with 15 RBIs in his first 15 games. But a July slump cost Spanos his starting job with Midland, and he was sent back to Stockton at the end of August after batting .235 with six homers and 27 RBIs in 43 games at Double A.

Spanos, who graduated from OPRF in 1999, went to the playoffs with Stockton and was 3-for-7 (.429) last week as the Ports were swept by Modesto.

OPRF graduate (1998) Blake Whealy regressed this year from his 23-homer season of 2004, hitting .212 with 10 homers and 36 RBIs in 88 games with St. Lucie, the Mets' affiliate in the high Single A Florida State League. Whealy's average was in the mid-to-upper .200s until June, when his playing time began decreasing. He played in each of St. Lucie's first 35 games but then appeared in just 53 of their final 99. A 13th-rounder in 2002, Whealy batted .281 with 23 homers and 82 RBIs last season in low Single A.

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