Thursday, January 8, 2009

Adrian Nieto-Prospect # 8

Video Posted from Adrian's Gallery on

Adrian Nieto's future has never been certain. At the age of 4 his parents had to decide whether or not to take their young son from the shores of the communist nation of Cuba to a new life in the United States. Thirteen hours into the trip the Nieto's found themselves in a 60 year old raft overloaded with 20 people. The group was lost in the ocean, dehydrated and starving. They had to decide whether or not to give up on their quest for freedom. Minutes before turning back to Cuba and what may have been an equally certain death, the group was rescued by the U.S Coast Guard, and taken to Guantanamo Bay.

Held captive in the very same center that today holds the worlds most dangerous terrorists, the Nieto's had no idea what the future had in store for them, or their 4 year old son Adrian. The Nieto's were lucky, they were allowed to go to the states and live with their existing family in southern Florida. 

The family made a home for itself. Adrian grew up and attended American Heritage high school alongside future top 10 pick Eric Hosmer. Nietomade his name on the national scene when he hit .381 with four homers and 27 RBI as a sophomore, earning AFLAC All-American honors. 

His junior year would however leave his future once again in uncertainty. He injured his elbow and knee and could not compile a full season. Scouts began to worry, teammates began to outshine him, and his draft stock began to fall. Before his injury he had committed to Southern Florida, but after he inexplicably decomimitted, confusing and concerning scouts. Nieto put time into his rehab and was able to bounce back his senior year by batting .373 with 21 extra base hits, leading his team to a state championship.

Uncommitted to any school, Nieto turned his attention to the draft. Rumor had it that Nieto was late first, early second round talent. However a much different, much worse rumor was also swirling around. It was assumed by many clubs that Nieto and the Baltimore Orioles had some sort of under the table deal that would stop him from signing with any club except the birds. This caused the promising young catcher to plummet in the draft, until the Washington Nationals took him in the 5th round. Nieto signed with the club no problem and looks forward to being a part of the teams future. 

"I'm really looking forward to being on the Major League team, hopefully soon, and making them a winner and a contender every year -- bringing them that first championship for all the fans up there because like I said they are really supportive and they deserve that. I really want to be part of that first championship team up there."

"You're never going to forget your first Spring Training. I'm really looking forward to it, to becoming a better baseball player and to make progress, getting closer toward my ultimate dream of becoming a Major Leaguer. (I) just need to get better, every year get a little bit better and try to be one of the best at my position."

Nieto also appears to be a good kid with a good head on his shoulders. He spoke about his baseball influences:

"My favorite baseball player is Pudge Rodriguez. But the guy I really look up to is Derek Jeter, because he's such a big role model, not only on the field but off the field. And he's never really had any problems off the field with controversy or anything like that. He just does everything right. I look up to him because of that. And I want to be like that too. I want to be team captain one day. He's got his own charity too and that's something I would like to have. That's sort of the guy I look up to. My favorite player is Pudge, but I really want to be more of a person or role model like Derek Jeter."

While Nieto's optimism is refreshing, he is still a good ways away from the majors. He is sound defensively behind the plate, and even with the arm injury his
 arm is still very strong. His true potential is still yet to be seen, however, as he has not had much experience against professional competition. Playing in 8 games with the Gulf Coast Nationals he went 5/23 with 3 doubles and no homers.
Scouting Report from
As Nieto put it, he "got a good taste of professional competition." He will likely start the season in Hagerstown if things go well in spring training. There is no rush to bring him up as Jesus Flores currently has the Nats catching spot on lockdown. 

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