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Brolsma signs with Pirates

By Charles Whisnand

Appeal Sports Editor

Owen Brolsma is still really learning how to be a relief pitcher. But there’s no question he has the kind of pitches that could make him a successful relief pitcher at the professional level.

That’s why the Pittsburgh Pirates took him in the 48th round of last week’s Major Leauge Baseball draft. Brolsma, a 2003 Carson High graduate, signed with the Pirates on Tuesday and is currently training at the Pirates facility in Bradenton, Fla.

Brolsma will report to the Pirates short season Low Class A team in State College, Pa., where the season will begin on June 17. Brolsma received a $2,000 signing bonus from the Pirates.

“Which is more than I thought I was going to get,’ Brolsma said. “It’s fine with me. I’m just looking for the opportunity.”

Brolsma just recently finished his college career at Texas Tech. He began his college career at the University of Nevada where he was a relief pitcher for the Wolf Pack in 2004 and shortly in 2005 before having to undergo Tommy John surgery.

After redshirting in 2006, he returned to Nevada in 2007 when he was the backup catcher.

He returned to the mound briefly last summer with the Reno Astros and Nevada Bighorns, but really this past season with Texas Tech was his most extensive action he’s seen on the mound since pitching for Nevada. He came to Texas Tech after graduating from Nevada with a business administration degree.

“Mechanically I figured out a lot,” Brolsma said. Brolsma admitted he still has a ways to go, but he has the potential to be a prototypical relief pitcher, even a closer, with his type of pitching style.

Brolsma has a two-seam fastball that is consistently in the low 90s and sinks, which should work well against wood bats at the pro level. Brolsma is also still learning to command his slider, which is consistently in the low 80s. Brolsma said his slider can reach up to 86 miles an hour, but then doesn’t have as much break and works more like a cut fastball.

“If I can get the second pitch (slider) in for a strike and (come back) with the fastball I’ll be fine,” said Brolsma, who added he’s also working on a changeup. “The slider is not as consistent as I need it to be.”

In addition, Major League teams expect to be able to add several miles an hour of velocity when working with pitchers, so Brolsma should eventually have a slider consistently in the mid-80s and a fastball consistently in the mid-90s.

Brolsma said he filled out forms for the Pirates in February and that the team talked to him a week before the draft. He said several other teams were interested as well.

“I was surprised that I went as late as I did,” Brolsma said. “I was pretty sure I was goig to get drafted. I was just sweating it out. I was kind of relieved when I was picked.”

The Pirates have told him not to worry about when he was drafted, Brolsma said. “When you get here you’ll have the same opportunity as everybody else,” said Brolsma on what the Pirates told him.

While he’ll be used mostly as a reliever, including as a closer, Brolsma said he may receive a couple of starts as well. “I was told they’re going to mix it up,” he said.

And asked how long he would pitch professionally, Brolsma said, “As long as it takes me,” referring to the big leagues.