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Keeping up with ... De La Salle's Brian Bogusevic
With U.S. Cellular Field only a block away, former De La Salle Institute standout Brian Bogusevic didn't have to look far to dream about playing in the big leagues.
Now in his fourth year in the Houston Astros' farm system, he knows firsthand how long the path is from pitching prospect to major leaguer.
"When it would snow (at De La Salle), we would practice in the parking lots (at U.S. Cellular Field) after they got plowed," said Bogusevic, the Astros' first-round pick in the 2005 Major League Baseball draft after playing three seasons at Tulane. "Growing up on the south side, the White Sox were always a big part of my life. But now I envision myself playing inside the Astros' stadium."
To make that vision come true, Bogusevich has two more levels to move up. He's currently in the rotation for the Double A Corpus Christi Hooks, where he was promoted late last summer after more than two years in Class A.
"I'm still a little bit of a work in progress," said Bogusevic, who also starred in the outfield at Tulane and began concentrating solely on pitching only after turning pro. "It's been three years and I'm still kind of developing that mindset of totally being a pitcher."
There are physical and mental elements to his continuing transformation. Unlike in high school, and to a lesser degree in college, it's no longer possible to simply throw the ball by batters. And Bogusevich also has worked at becoming more of a student of the game.
"The mental aspect is the hardest thing to grasp -- things like having patience during a game and even during an inning," he said. "You have to develop a plan and stick to it, regardless of what's happening. And accepting the fact that you're going to give up hits and runs -- that's part of the game."
Two current points of emphasis for the 6-foot-3-inch southpaw involve keeping the ball down and becoming more consistent.
"You can't get away with being up in the zone at this level; if you leave it up, the ball is going to get hit hard," he said. "So far (this year), whenever I've had a good outing, I've usually followed it with a really bad one."
Bogusevic notched his first win of the season Sunday, moving his record to 1-5 with a 5.14 ERA. In that game, an 11-3 victory over the Frisco RoughRiders, Bogusevic went five innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits while striking out six and walking two.
In his other start last week, a no-decision in a 6-5 loss to San Antonio last Tuesday, Bogusevic went 5.1 innings and allowed two earned runs on seven hits.
In 2007, Bogusevic was a combined 10-8 with a 4.61 ERA, with the bulk of that work coming with the advanced Class A Salem (Va.) Avalanche before his promotion to Corpus Christi. He struggled in that stint, going 1-1 in six starts with an ERA of 7.40, including a forgettable first outing when he lasted only two-thirds of an inning, allowing six runs on five hits and two walks.
After signing with the Astros in July 2005, Bogusevic had Class A stops with the Tri City ValleyCats in Troy, N.Y., where he pitched in relief to end the '05 campaign, and the Lexington Legends, where he started for most of 2006.
At Tulane, Bogusevic helped lead the Green Wave to the 2005 College Baseball World Series and earned several individual accolades, including being named to the 2005 first-team Louisville Slugger NCAA Baseball All-American squad. He finished that season 13-3 with a 3.25 ERA and displayed his hitting prowess the previous season when he led the team with 68 RBIs.
Despite splitting time between two positions in college, pro scouts projected him as a starting pitcher. As the 24th overall pick in 2005, Bogusevic commanded a sizable bonus but also faced heavy pressure.
"There obviously is pressure and I know that a lot of people expect a lot of me," he said. "But no one puts more pressure on me than myself. I know what I think I'm capable of and I'll push myself harder than anybody."
If Bogusevic remains with the Astros and eventually ascends to the majors, it would take either interleague play or a repeat of the 2005 World Series for him to pitch in U.S. Cellular Field.
For now, he's trying to not get too far ahead of himself, taking it one start at a time.
"The daydreams I had when I was a kid of playing pro baseball haven't stopped," he said. "But I've got so many goals that have to be achieved before I can reach that level."
The NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships were last week in Des Moines, with a sizable contingent of Chicago-area products taking part.
The top local finisher was Southern Illinois senior Brittany Riley (Homewood-Flossmoor), who became a six-time All-American by finishing second in Friday's hammer throw. Her best effort was 221-3, more than four feet behind the winner, Eva Orban of USC.
Riley was the top seed going into the finals, courtesy of her heave of 211-7 in her first attempt in Wednesday's prelims, well above the automatic qualifying mark of 208-4.
Riley won the last two indoor national championships in the weight throw, including a then-world record toss of 83-10¼ 2007. She was also second in the hammer throw at last year's outdoor national meet.
Also standing out in Des Moines was Texas junior sprinter Alexandria Anderson (Morgan Park), who added two more All-America designations to her already lengthy college résumé by finishing sixth in Friday's 100-meter final and seventh in Saturday's 200. Counting her work on Longhorn relay teams, Anderson is an 11-time All-American.
Her time of 11.44 in the 100 bettered the 11.66 and 11.67 she ran in the opening round and semifinals Wednesday. She was sixth last year as well.
"I ran the best race that I could run today," said Anderson after the 100-meter final. "I'm definitely going to go into next year with a chip on my shoulder. I'm going to go out and train really hard. After having this end result, all you can do is go out and train work hard to get ready for next season."
In the 200, she ran 23.20 and 23.07 in the opening round and semifinals, respectively, before clocking a 23.35 in Saturday's final. That race marked her second straight All-American effort in the 200 as well; she was also seventh last June.
Oregon freshman pole vaulter Melissa Gergel (Marian Catholic) became a two-time All-American by placing eighth in Friday's pole vault. She cleared 12-9½ and 13-1½ on her first try before missing in three tries at 13-5¼. She becomes just the second Duck woman to earn outdoor All-America status in the pole vault.
Gergel, who tied for eighth at the national indoor meet this winter, entered the final seeded second after missing only once in Wednesday's prelims. The best effort of her freshman year was 13-5¾ at a home meet May 9; that is the fifth-best height in program history.
She arrived at Oregon after a standout high school career which saw her win the Class AA state title as a senior in 2007, finish second in '06 and third as a sophomore three years ago.
The only male athlete to achieve All-America status was Wisconsin freshman Evan Jager (Jacobs), who was eighth in the 1,500 meters with a time of 3:43.26. He qualified for Saturday's final by finishing second in his heat Thursday in 3:42.43.
Jager, a three-time Illinois state champion in high school, redshirted for the 2007 cross country season last fall but ran a leg on the Badgers' third-place distance medley relay team at this winter's indoor national meet.
Several other local athletes didn't advance to finals.
Among that group was Michigan junior Casey Taylor (Marian Catholic). She finished 28th in Wednesday's long jump prelims with a top effort of 19-1½. She had automatically qualified for the meet by placing second at regionals two weeks ago with a personal record of 21-1½. She also won the Big Ten outdoor triple jump crown in May.
Illinois sophomore Aja Evans (Morgan Park) was 22nd in Thursday's shot put prelims with a throw of 49-¾. That effort capped a fine initial season in Champaign for the UNLV transfer; she was ninth at the national indoor meet, won the Big Ten outdoor title and set school records both indoors and outdoors.
Arkansas senior Tominque Boatright (Oswego) ended her college career by running a leg on the Lady Backs' 4x400 meter relay that finished 14th in the semifinals Thursday. She was hoping to add to the three All-America designations she had earned in the same event previously -- both indoors and outdoors as a sophomore in 2006 and with a seventh-place finish at last June's outdoor national meet.
On the men's side, Michigan junior Adam Harris (Wheaton North) made it to the 200-meter semifinal Thursday but couldn't advance. His opening-round time of 21.05 was followed with a 21.13 effort in the semis, which placed him 15th overall. This was Harris' first appearance at the outdoor national meet after running a career-best 20.68 at regionals two weeks ago.
His junior season was highlighted by the fourth-place finish he recorded at the indoor national meet in the 60 meters and the impressive performance he turned in at the Big Ten outdoor meet, when he won the 200 meters, was on the winning 400-meter relay team and claimed second in the long jump.
Purdue sophomore high jumper Adetayo Adesanya (Naperville North) tied for 21st in Wednesday's prelims by clearing 6-8¾. He finished fourth at regionals two weeks ago with a top leap of 6-11 and was second at the Big Ten meet in May.
Philadelphia Phillies minor league pitcher Matt German (Marmion) pitched in last Saturday night's Florida State League All-Star Game. In the contest, which German's West squad won 9-3, German pitched two-thirds of an inning, allowing two hits and striking out one.
German is in his first full year in pro ball and is pitching for the Phillies' advanced Class A affiliate, the Clearwater (Fla.) Threshers. In 19 appearances in 2008, German doesn't have any decisions but has compiled a 2.73 ERA over 26.1 innings. He's struck out 31 while walking only 13.
German signed last summer after the college season as a non-drafted free agent, splitting time between the Phillies' two other Class A affiliates, the Williamsport (Pa.) Crosscutters and Lakewood (N.J.) BlueClaws. The 6-foot-8-inch southpaw compiled a 1.54 ERA in 26 relief appearances and had seven saves, with opposing batters hitting only .192 against him.
German left Northern Illinois University as the school's all-time saves leader (26) and was a unanimous first-team All-Mid-American Conference pick as a senior in '07 when he had 13 saves and a 1.76 ERA. His career saves total ranks second all-time in conference history and he won or saved 31 of the Huskies' 57 wins over his last two seasons. German also was one of five finalists for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year award as a senior.
Incoming Stanford women's basketball freshman Sarah Boothe (Warren) earned a spot last Thursday on the 2008 USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team.
The trials were conducted over three days last week in Colorado Springs. The 12 members of the team will represent the United States in the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship July 23-27 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Eleven of the players have previous international experience, including Boothe, who participated in the 2007 USA Basketball Women's Youth Development Festival.
"All I did was try my hardest," said Boothe after being named to the team. "I gave it my all every time. I hustled and did what I do best. I stuck with the posts, worked on my moves and showed the Committee what I could offer the team: being a good teammate, hustling and giving it my all."
The 6-foot-5-inch Boothe was the tallest of the 35 players invited to try out and was the only representative from Illinois. Since her senior season ended at Warren, she has received several postseason honors, including being named Ms. Basketball of Illinois and the Gatorade Illinois Girls Basketball Player of the Year.