Pecos League Standout Omar Artsen Gets Opportunity with Marlins

Omar Artsen was almost about to give up.  After playing college baseball at three different schools (ASA junior college, Missouri Baptist University, and Brewton Parker College), he wasn’t sure that baseball was in his future after graduation. Ultimately, he ended up at a day job working in finance in New York. It was here that the 24 year old changed his life and reinvented himself.

“Being around successful people all the time kinda shows you how their minds work… how positive they are and how they manifest their own luck and success. They even gave me a couple of books to read, and I realized that mindset was the missing link to my game. After I read those books, I packed my bags and gave it another go” Artsen explains.

With his friends and family’s encouragement, he headed south to train in Florida knowing that this could be his last chance to make something happen.  He spent the winter months in Florida training with minor league coach Benny Castillo. Artsen was working out alongside guys who were as young as 17, but that never discouraged him.  All it meant was that he had to work harder to prove to everyone that he still had what it takes to play.

After four months, Artsen once again packed his bags and hit the road. This time, he ended up in Santa Fe with the Fuegos of the Pecos League.  With a new mindset and outlook on life and baseball, Artsen came into his own as the starting 2nd baseman in Santa Fe. He was named to the mid-season All-Star team and was an integral part in helping the Fuegos win the championship.  He finished the season batting .397 and set a new Pecos League stolen base record with 52.

When asked about his time in the Pecos League, Artsen replied that “the Pecos lives up to its reputation… but it’s still pro ball, and you still get the opportunity to get to the next level. When you keep that in mind, the Pecos can be a fun place to play.”

And he sure did have fun while making the most of the opportunity given to him.  Artsen quickly became a fan favorite. On the field, he dazzled with his base running, but off the field he became a star as well. He was always the first guy to sign up for volunteer activities in the community and loved being around kids.

His manager, Bill Moore, talked fondly of watching him play. “I love him to death. He’s just a fun guy to be around. Omar is a risk-taker, but it pays off more times than not.  He just puts out everything he’s got. He’s a very exciting guy to watch play. Wherever he ends up playing next season, fans are going to love him.”

This time his risk-taking really did pay off.  After the season, Artsen was signed to a minor league contract with the Miami Marlins; however he was one of the last ones to know that they were interested in signing him. He didn’t have a cell phone at the time, so his friend sent him a message through Facebook and told him to call ASAP.  As it turns out, many people within the Pecos League already knew about the offer and were all trying to get in contact with him.

This is a very big deal for the Pecos League as a whole.  In all of 2014, 41 players were promoted to higher leagues.  Of those 41, only 4 of them were given contracts by an MLB organization.

In February Artsen will once again pack his bags and head south to Florida, but this time he will be going as a professional baseball player.

“I’m looking forward to competing with the best players in the world and pushing my game forward. Every part of my game has to improve. I’m not just trying to survive in affiliated ball. I’m trying get to ‘The Show'” Artsen stated.

He knows that he has a long road ahead, but he is confident in his abilities and is ready for whatever comes his way next. “I know that I work hard, and I’m as mentally strong as they come… I’m just going to keep improving to get where I want to go.”

Omar Artsen is not taking this new opportunity for granted.  The sky is the limit for this hard working 24 year old who is out to prove everyone wrong and beat the odds.

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“The Shit Show” Pecos League – Where Are They Now?

Last month, I wrote a post about the Pecos League and their reality show. https://indyballisland.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/the-shit-show-the-pecos-league-and-reality-tv/

The show itself follows the 2013 Trinidad Triggers, including 7 players who are featured extensively. My original post was very well received, and I began getting requests to do a follow-up of the players from the show. Below is a recap of what these guys have done since the show and their time with the Triggers ended.

Tony Smith (P) played in the Frontier League during the 2014 season. He was a huge part of the championship winning team, the Schaumburg Boomers.  In 24 regular season appearances (6 starts), he finished with a 6-2 record and 3.28 ERA. He also appeared in 4 of the Boomers’ post season games. This offseason, Tony is back home in Twentynine Palms, CA coaching, working, and playing slow pitch softball. He does plan on returning to Schaumburg for the 2015 Frontier League. season.

tony smithtony and sam

Frank Florio (OF) also spent the 2014 season in the Frontier League playing with the league’s travel team, the Frontier Greys. In 62 games, Frank batted .233 with 8 HRs and 32 RBIs .  While he is still unsure about baseball, he is currently studying to take the LSAT for admission into law school.

frank florio

Sam DiMatteo (OF) had surgery on his elbow after the 2013 season that required rehabbing during the winter and beginning of 2014 season.  After recovering, Sam joined the Fort Worth Cats in the United League at the end of June. In 38 games, he finished with a .293 average.  He is spending the offseason back home in Pittsburgh where is he is a baseball instructor.

sam dimateo

Jacob Fabry (OF) also moved on from the Pecos League and played in the United League in 2014.  Jacob had a great season with the Grande Valley White Wings.  In 72 games, he batted .322 with 28 RBIs and 12 stolen bases.

fabry

Richie Serritella (C,1B, 3B, P) was traded to the Les Rochelle Boucaniers in France for the 2014 season. He had an amazing season topping every offensive hitting category. He won the league batting title (.584 avg – 84 points higher than anyone else), was named the “Hitter of the Year” and also led the league in slugging percentage (1.000), on-base percentage (.640), runs scored (39), hits (45), and RBIs (42). He also stole 26 bases in 28 attempts.  On the mound, he pitched 15.1 innings, had a 1.76 ERA (2nd on the team) and struck out 22 batters. Richie is looking to play baseball closer to home for the 2015 season.

richierichie2

Andrew Azzopardi (C,Utility) spent 2014 with the Tiffin Saints of The Independent Baseball League as both a player and as an assistant coach.  Since the season ended, Andrew has retired from baseball.  Now, he is still coaching while looking to open up a baseball academy in Ohio where he currently lives with his girlfriend.

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John Sullivan (P) retired from baseball after the 2013 season with the Triggers.  He is now (recently) married and living back in North Carolina.  John is still pursing his music dreams and plays small shows throughout the Charlotte, NC area.  He was also invited to sing the National Anthem before the UNCC football home opener this season.  You can check out his music here: http://www.reverbnation.com/johnsullivanjr?profile_view_source=header_icon_nav

sullysully2

Writing and sharing stories about Independent Baseball.

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