Some locals may remember Flower Mound High’s Craig Italiano from a few years ago, kid was something to see. When the Indians scrimmaged the Jaguars at their place in February of 2005 there must have been 30 MLB Scouts behind home plate for the game. The lanky Italiano was said to have the flu and a 102 fever on a night where the temperatures were hovering around 40 degrees with a stiff north wind, but Craig came out and put on a show. He lit up the radar guns consistently at 97mph touching 99 once.
Needless to say, he was drafted by the Oakland A’s that summer in the middle of the 2nd round, got a fat signing bonus ($775,000) and headed off to Rookie ball. Craig has had a couple of setbacks along the way, including arm surgery and a trade last summer to the Padre’s. The scariest part of his minor league career so far came in May of 2007 when he was hit by a line drive in the forehead which cracked his skull. Craig could have easily quit at any time, having invested his money well and finding that riding a bus in the minors isn’t as glamorous as it seems, but he has stuck it out and now comes news that he was placed on the 40 man roster by the Padres in the last couple of weeks.
This protected him from the Rule 5 draft and now the Padres either have to keep him on the roster or release him to free agency. Craig has the ability and the stuff to make it to pitch in in the bigs, and I hope he makes it soon.
I know it is a cliché, and I probably use it too much, but Craig is one nice young man as well as a great ball player.