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June 3 College Baseball
Pugliese approaches MLB draft with cautious optimism
By Rich Fisher
        June 3:
James Pugliese is hopeful, but cautious.
        Coming off an outstanding freshman season at Mercer County Community College, Pugliese is ranked No. 51 on the list of Top 100 prospective Major League Baseball draft picks among junior college players.
       The draft begins Monday and will run from June 6-8. 
       “Pugs”, a Steinert High graduate, went 6-2 for the Vikings with an ERA of 1.30 and 71 strikeouts in 56.2 innings. He threw over 20 innings more than any other Mercer pitcher.
       And while Pugliese estimates that between 15 to 20 Major League teams have either come out to see him or contact him (including the Phillies, Mets and Yankees), he is not packing his bags for pro ball just yet.
       “You never know what’s gonna happen,” he said. “You’re talking to guys and they could be all over you, and then you don’t get drafted. My parents want to have friends over (to watch the draft) but I told them not to because you never know what’s going to happen.”
       Some baseball experts in the area feel pretty confident Pugliese will be taken because he has size and durability. But the 6-foot-3 right-hander won’t jump at any offer. If Pugliese goes low and doesn’t like the situation, he will return to Mercer for his sophomore year secure in the knowledge he has a scholarship to St. John’s for the 2012-13 year (he must earn 60 JUCO credits to become eligible for a four-year school and is happy to note he had a 3.2 GPA this year).
        Just the fact he is being touted for the draft is impressive considering Pugliese spent his entire high school career as a reliever. He was a starter in little league and Babe Ruth, and was finally returned to that role in legion ball last summer by Post 31 manager Rick Freeman.
        “We want to prepare him for the future and we think that’s where his future is,” Freeman said at the time.
        Pugliese promptly went out and earned MCALL Pitcher of the Year honors, which was a preview of things to come.
        And while he had to adjust his mindset as a starter in order to last longer, he began gaining more durability thanks to sessions with Kevin Schneider at Game Time Performance.
        “I started working with him before my senior year, and I’m still working with him,” Pugliese said. “He changed my delivery and got me stepping on a straight line. Before, I would throw across my body instead of going straight forward, and that would be less of a strain on my arm.”  
        He didn’t add any new pitches this year, just going with a fastball, slider and change-up.
      “I wanted to work in a knuckleball but it never happened,” he said, adding with a laugh, “Just like every other year.”
       Pugliese began drawing attention from scouts this season as he began dominating JUCO foes.
      “We had a guy from the Major League Scouting Bureau contact me one day and take all my information down,” Pugliese said. “He writes a player profile and sends it to all 30 teams. Then, if they want, they can choose to come out and see them.
      “I did good this year so I guess they thought highly of me. They ask basic questions, like what pitches I throw, things like that.”
      If for one reason or another he does not play pro ball this summer, Pugliese is going to play for the Philly 20U Bandits in a Philadelphia area collegiate league. It is a high-exposure program that will keep Pugliese in the eye of the scouts.
      As for the coming days, Pugliese has gotten advice on how to handle everything from former draft picks such as Steve Garrison, Kyle Davis and Hamilton West’s James Hoey. He has also received input from various scouts who like him but can’t make any promises.
      “They do tell me they’re gonna try but they all say they don’t pull trigger,” he said. “They have to go through everything with the general manager.
“I mean, they could say you should go in the top 10 but they really don’t know because it’s not up to them. All they can do is speak highly of you and have a meeting (with team executives) and try to decide who to pick.”
      According to the pundits, they will decide on Pugliese.
      But showing a level headed approach, Pugs will just wait and see. 

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(Also known as Rich Fisher's blog)
Apr. 5, 2015

The blog is

      Apr. 5: What better day to resurrect this blog than Easter Sunday, right?

       Happy Easter everybody, I hope you’ve all had a good past eight months while I’ve been gone, and I hope you have a nice holiday today.

             * * *

        So, how about this Steinert baseball team. When you talk about amazing starts to a season, it doesn’t get better than what the Spartans have done.

       In their first two games, they rally to tie it in the seventh and win it in the bottom of the eighth. That’s a tough act to follow, and yet yesterday the Spartans beat the No. 1 ranked team in the state.

        What was most impressive about that feat is that Steinert did it legitimately. OK, maybe a few of the big hits got help from the wind, but for the most part, Steinert stung the ball against one of the state’s best pitchers. The Spartans pitching harnessed an attack that had scored 27 runs in two games, and the defense was nearly flawless.

        Kudos to both coaches afterward. Brian “The Chef” Giallella did not gloat over the win and kept things in perspective. GC’s Mike Rucci took his team to task, saying it did nothing right. But at the same time he praised the Spartans for their effort and gave them their due credit.

         It was a great day at Fort Giallella, which is abuzz these days with the addition of Jim “Chorizo & Eggs” Geraci as the public address announcer.

            * * *
     Since this is the first blog in 8 months, I must take time to acknowledge our new Athlete of the Week sponsor, Rossi's Tavern on Whitehorse Road. Alan Meinster, Mike Rossi and the crew have been awesome to work with.
    And for those who don't know, the legendary hamburger establishment is now running a Sunday brunch from 10 to 2, so check it out. Good stuff!
            * * *

      Who said Rutgers fans don’t have any rooting interest in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament?

        If Wisconsin can defeat Duke Monday night, the Scarlet Knight faithful can proudly say their team beat the team that went on to win the national championship. Of course, the Badgers didn’t have Frank Kaminsky in that game, and the win was followed by 13 straight losses to end the season, so make of it what you will.

           * * *

      I’m wrestling with what to make of Kentucky after last night. Everyone says it’s a special team, it went 38-0, blah blah blah. But, how special can a team be that doesn’t even make it to the finals?

      I understand that this was a team that could have let egos get in the way with so many superstars, and they all banded together, sacrificed playing time and had one heck of a run. I still think, however, they are a better team than Wisconsin. And when you’re the better team and you don’t win, that takes a little shine off the “special” tag.

      I myself think Wisconsin is pretty special. They are a fun team to watch (as was Kentucky) and they use their personnel to perfection. Sam Dekker is the perfect complement to Kaminsky, who is unique just by the fact he always looks like he’s five seconds away from dozing off.

      And the biggest thing Wisconsin did, was make life normal again for all of us Duke haters. The scuttlebutt was that if Duke and Kentucky met in the finals, this would be one time everyone rooted for Duke because it was the underdog (I would have rooted for Kentucky).

        As it turns out, we don’t have to worry about it anymore. Goooooo Badgers!!!

           * * *

      So I have a 17-game season ticket plan for the Phillies, and I was complaining on Friday night because one of the games in my plan was the exhibition game with the Pirates.

       Well, kudos to the Phils for pulling a class act. Because of the bad weather, anyone with tickets to that game can exchange their stubs for any game in April besides opening day.

     Granted, Phils will be hurting for fans this year. But still, it’s a nice gesture.

        * * *

     This is way overdue and something I would have written in February if I had a blog in February. But this issue of Tom Brady vs. Joe Montana as the greatest quarterback is interesting.

       Most people seem to think Montana is the better QB because he went 4-0 in the Super Bowl. He never lost. Brady, of course, is 4-2. So because he has won as many Supes as Montana, but lost two, he is not as great.

       So, what does that mean? We are penalizing our quarterbacks for making it to the Super Bowl? If you make it and lose, it diminishes your value?

        And of course, the most ludicrous reason I ever heard (from a Philadelphia radio host) is that Montana is greater because he beat better quarterbacks.

       There is no more useless stat in sports than a quarterback’s record vs. another quarterback, because they are playing against the defense. I don’t know what the statistics are, so I’m not sure how good the defenses were that Montana beat, as opposed to the defenses that Brady beat. But that is what should determine this argument, don’t you think?

      Let’s put it this way. One of the great defenses of all time was the 1985 Chicago Bears. The quarterback of that team was a charismatic but hardly great Jim McMahon. Let’s just say the Patriots beat the Bears in that Super Bowl (instead, they got blown out).

       Going by this radio host’s barometer, New England quarterback Tony Eason’s feat wouldn’t be all that great because he only beat McMahon. When, in fact, he actually beat a legendary defense.

     Anyway, I’m putting Brady as the greatest. I think getting to six Super Bowls and winning four of them is pretty damn impressive, especially when it took a miracle catch in one of his losses to beat him.

               * * *

     OK, I know this blog is pretty boring. But hey, it’s been a while. I’m just warming up.
  The next one I write will be VERY boring. :) 


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