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.