Bautista has some school suggestions

* Jose Bautista addressed the Canadian Junior National Team after the Toronto Blue Jays and the Canuck high schoolers posed for a team photo in centre field at Al Lang Field in St. Pete's. Photo: Alexis Brudnicki. …. 2014 Canadians in College Letters of Intent 2014 Canadian draft list 2013 Canadians in the Minors 2015 Canadian draft list

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By Bob Elliott

St. PETERSBURG _ After the Blue Jays and the Canadian Junior National Team posed for a pre-game group photo in centre field at Al Lang Field, Jose Bautista asked for the floor, er the field.

Bautista spoke to the high schoolers from coast to coast.

From Kurtis Horne (Sooke, BC), Mitchell Robinson (Surrey, BC), Kyle Ross (Maple Ridge, BC), Brad Smith (Vancouver, BC), Kristjan Storrie (Langley, BC), Colton Wood (Victoria, BC) in the west to J.P. Stevenson (Hunter River, PEI) in the east?

What did he tell them?

“I explained my foundation to them,” said Bautista. “How that they can apply if they need financial aid to go to university. And I told them about my web site.”

The Bautista Family Education Fund has helped place a number of Latin players at U.S. schools and one Canadian to date. Bautista said it was up the one Canadian player involved to decide if he could mention his name.

Bautista wasn’t signed from the Dominican after it appeared he had a deal. Yet, the Cincinnati Reds were in the process of being sold from Marge Schott to Carl Linder.

So it was the Latin Athletes Education Fund helped him land a scholarship to Chipola College in Marianna, Fla. Bautista started the education fund in 2011.


Alexis Brudnicki: Bautista aims to empower Dominican players


This spring has been a flashback spring for Bautista to his younger days.

After his first round of batting practice at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee memories came flooding back.

“That’s where it happened,” said Bautista, before his Blue Jays met the Houston Astros, using his bat to point to the mound, “that’s where I pitched.”

When Chipola Indians starter Kyle Pawelcyk had a tender arm, coach Jeff Johnson gave the ball to Bautista, his closer, in the junior college state championship in 2001.

Bautsita beat St. Petersburg College with a complete-game, 12-strikeout win in the semi-final, using a 95 MPH. fastball and dropping down with a “slurvey’ slider,” as Johnson recalled.

The coach remembers him throwing 130 pitches.

Bautista thinks it was 140.

Both agree he hit two homers.

No matter the number it was way too much for a guy who had logged one three-inning start and five saves on his resume that spring.

His agent, Jay Alou, son of former San Francisco Giants outfielder Jesus Alou, paced as he watched. His client was either signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates or heading into the June draft as an outfielder -- not as a pitcher.

What if he injured his arm?

“I played centre the next day, but my arm was sore,” said Bautista, who had not thrown more than 30 pitches that season. Although Chipola lost the final to Miami-Dade missing the chance to make the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Col., the man the Canadians called Hoser earned MVP honours.

Bautista picked up the nickname from Jordan Keller of Melville, Sask., after the right fielder threw Keller out twice trying to score from during an intra-squad game and it stuck.

“All the Canadian players called me that,” said Bautista, who during his two years at Chipola played with: Montreal third baseman Russell Martin, outfielder Eric Bernier of Laval, Que., infielder Ivan Naccarata of Longueil, Que., and Keller.

Bautista hit .289 with 15 doubles, seven homers and 25 RBIs for the 2000 Indians and was drafted in the 20th round by Pirates, but didn’t sign.

The next spring, Bautista hit .306 (two points ahead of Martin, now of the Pittsburgh Pirates), had 15 homers (in 186 at-bats to lead the team) and 41 RBIs as Chipola won the Panhandle conference.

He finished with a 2.43 ERA and a 41 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings.

Osceola County is where he had his best game and Al Lang is where he told ball players in red and white he would help Canadian youngsters.