Jaguars take cuts against member of Astros' 40-man roster
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UHV Season Opener
• Doubleheader, noon Sunday, Feb. 3, Riverside Stadium
• vs. New York Mets, 12:05 p.m. CST, Sunday, Feb. 24, Kississimee, Fla.
Gabe Verduzco had hardly stepped out of the batting cage before his UHV teammates started giving him the business.
"You can open your eyes now," one of them joked.
Verduzco got the last laugh, hitting a ball inside the first-base bag and down the right-field line, while taking live batting practice against Ross Seaton, a member of the Houston Astros' 40-man roster.
"It was kind of a sigh of relief," said Verduzco, a freshman from Victoria East. "The first pitch he threw me was an eye opener. I finally got settled in and saw a pitch I liked and hit it."
The Jaguars didn't get many solid hits off of Seaton, who threw about 40 pitches on Monday afternoon at Riverside Stadium.
Seaton was in Victoria as part of a fundraiser for the UHV baseball team that included a golf tournament and baseball discussion at The Club at Colony Creek.
Seaton appeared as a favor for UHV coach Terry Puhl. Puhl coached Seaton in middle school and has been a long-time mentor.
"He's been a great help for me," Seaton said. "In the baseball aspect of it and life with all the other things."
Seaton, 23, was selected by the Astros as the third supplemental pick in 2008 and signed out of high school at Houston Second Baptist.
He pitched for Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City last season before being added to the big league roster in November.
Seaton had an 8-9 record last season with a 3.93 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 169.1 innings.
"The Double-A level is where I feel like you start playing with a bunch of men," Seaton said. "You play with older guys who know how to play the game and that's a great learning opportunity.
"You're not just playing with college age players anymore. You're playing with guys who have been in a game and know what they're doing. To me, it was a huge jump from A ball to Double A. A great learning opportunity and a lot of fun."
The Jaguars enjoyed the challenge of trying to hit against a pitcher who has been clocked from the low to mid 90's.
"It was definitely different, but it was a good experience to get to see a great pitcher and just experience seeing live pitching again and having fun out there," Verduzco said. "Just to know that you've seen his pitches and you can compare to other pitchers."
Seaton will report to spring training in Kissimmee, Fla., next month and is excited about the opportunity.
"I don't think they have any roster set so everybody's going in with the mind set that you're making the team," he said. "Of course, that's my goal. Whether that happens or not that's out of my hands. All I can do is worry about what I can control. It's just a matter of taking advantage of that and enjoying the moment."