Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Zen Dayley: Ex-Lynx catches on with Bucs

It's great how someone else's good news can cause you to perk up: Case in point, Jason Jaramillo, the last starting catcher for the Ottawa Lynx, had a happy homecoming last night with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
" 'This is an amazing dream come true,' said the 26-year-old Jaramillo, a Franksville native who becomes the first position player from Racine County to start for a major league team since Case graduate Duane Kuiper started 18 games at second base for the 1984 San Francisco Giants. 'All the blood, sweat and tears, I guess they say, about battling and working hard to achieve your dream is coming true.' "
Jaramillo, 26, is starting for the Pirates and his manager for the Lynx, John Russell, and doing a bang-up job in Ryan Doumit's absence. The job is his to lose until Doumit's projected return around the all-star break and the Pirates are 11-8, with a NL-best 3.36 ERA under Russell and former Expos pitching coach Joe Kerrigan.

Jaramillo is mostly backup-catcher timbre, the catch-and-throw guy who can hold on to a major-league job just for a receiving skills and occasionally. It's mostly beside the point whether he and the Pirates can sustain such a start. It's just nice, for lack of a more original word, to see him get a chance to play every day. He represented the late and lamented Lynx in the Triple-A All-Star Game in 2007. The offensive numbers (he had the exact same on-base-plus-slugging, .711, in both '07 and '08) were depressed somewhat by pitchers' parks in both Ottawa and Allentown, Pa., so the change of scenery helped. It's a pleasant surprise, to say the least.
"And from a defensive standpoint — and defense is Jaramillo's forte — he has yet to commit an error and has thrown out two baserunners, one of which was a SportsCenter highlight.

"So delighted is Pirates manager John Russell, who managed Jaramillo with the Class AAA Ottawa Lynx in 2007, that he only could think of one complaint.

" 'The only knock I have on him is he's from Oklahoma State,” joked Russell, who was a catcher for arch-rival Oklahoma from 1979-82.

"Jaramillo has been no laughing matter. Wearing the No. 35 three-time All-Star catcher Manny Sanguillen wore for the Pirates from 1967-80, Jaramillo has filled a huge hole in Doumit's absence.

" 'I knew he was a good player when he was with the Phillies,' Russell said. 'He was a top prospect and they kind of rushed him through the system a little bit. But he struck me as a very good defensive catcher and he really became a student of the game with switch-hitting. He showed flashes of potential with his batting, as well, so he has a lot of tools.

" 'He made the team because of his defensive abilities, but some of his offensive skills are starting to show up.' "
(Link via Rattler Radio, which has regular updates on B.C. baseball phenom Brett Lawrie, who's playing for a Milwaukee Brewers' Single-A team.

Jaramillo reaches MLB's top floor (Peter Jackel, Racine Journal-Times)

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