ON SPORTS: Jaguars junior makes his pitch to Astros
May 28, 2014 at 12:28 a.m.
Andre Del Bosque will be at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Monday.
The UHV pitcher hopes to be back at the park in a Houston Astros uniform in the near future.
Del Bosque will work out with Astros' prospects in preparation for the June 5 to 7 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Del Bosque, 23, is likely to become the first player from UHV ever selected in the draft.
"I knew I had some looks, and I knew that if I stayed healthy, it could be a possibility," Del Bosque said. "Now, it's all coming together."
Del Bosque put himself in a position to be drafted through hard work and perseverance after completing his high school career at St. Joseph in 2009.
Del Bosque made the Temple College team as a walk-on but suffered a pair of elbow injuries that forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Del Bosque played one season at Temple, mostly in the outfield and at designated hitter, before attending a UHV tryout in 2012.
The Jaguars liked what they saw but were initially reluctant to take a chance on Del Bosque because of his arm troubles.
But they relented after Del Bosque's uncle, Orlando Chapa, pleaded his nephew's case with UHV pitching coach Doug Heinold.
Heinold spoke with head coach Terry Puhl, who got a positive report about Del Bosque from Temple College.
"He had to work through some injuries," Heinold said. "He was really overdoing it. He finally got to where he needed to be as far as injuries. He's a totally different pitcher."
Del Bosque's injury problems continued at UHV when he tore an oblique muscle in an intrasquad game a week before the 2013 season opener.
But he recovered in time to pitch in 12 games out of the bullpen and had a 1-0 record with two saves.
Del Bosque showed he was fully recovered by pitching in Canada last summer before returning to UHV for his junior season.
Puhl initially planned to use Del Bosque as a starter but moved him to the closer's role out of necessity.
Del Bosque obliterated the school record for saves with 13. He made a team-high 34 appearances and had 86 strikeouts in 71.1 innings.
"It actually kind of helped me get ready faster since I was throwing back-to-back days," Del Bosque said. "It didn't take me long to get ready in the bullpen. So that was kind of cool. Eventually, my body started getting used to that - throwing back-to-back days - so I wasn't as sore as I was at the beginning of the year."
Del Bosque's velocity improved as his arm became stronger, and scouts began to take notice.
He was consistently clocked in the low 90s during the regular season and touched the mid-90s during the Association of Independent Institutions tournament in Lynn, Mass.
"He's learned about working hitters," Heinold said. "He's been improving with his slider and his cutter and keeping his pitches down. He gets a lot of swings and misses, and that's something the scouts look at."
Del Bosque recently traveled to Fort Worth to work out for the Cincinnati Reds.
"They had like 10 pitchers and 15 to 20 position players," he said. "They had me throw five of each of my pitches - five fastballs, five sliders, five curveballs, five changeups and five more fastballs. I was throwing up everything. I was so nervous."
Puhl relied heavily on Del Bosque during the team's run to the NAIA championship tournament and wasn't surprised to see him become a pro prospect.
"Whenever a player at the NAIA level gets drafted, it shows that the program is developing players and making connections so that player can get seen by scouts," Puhl said. "He was able to show his talent with the innings he pitched and what he accomplished."
Del Bosque has enjoyed speaking with scouts from different teams and has appreciated the advice he's received from Puhl and Heinold.
"I told him not to try and be someone he's not, and don't do anything different," said Heinold, who was a first-round selection by the New York Yankees out of Stroman High School in 1973. "He's already done what he needed to do. It's all about getting an opportunity."
Del Bosque has one year of eligibility remaining at UHV and is a semester away from getting a degree in biology.
But there's little doubt he's anxious to begin his professional career.
"I want to get drafted, and I want to sign," Del Bosque said. "I hope it's the Astros, too. I'd like that."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or email@example.com or comment on this column at AdvoSports.com.