North Carroll's Huller took initiative to be discovered

April 02, 1995|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

Living on the back roads of Carroll County and pitching for North Carroll High is not the best way to be discovered.

So Mike Huller decided to throw himself and his strong left arm at the Orioles last fall.

He showed up in Frederick at an open tryout session for the Oriolelanders, a team of young pro prospects who play 46 games each fall against top-flight competition from New York to Florida.

"When we watched Mike throw that day, it was all we needed to see," said Orioles area scout Jim Gilbert, who manages the Oriolelanders and started the team 13 years ago. "He was good enough to play for us, and he is a pro prospect if he keeps throwing the way he did last fall. I like him a lot, and he is left-handed. There aren't many of those around this year. He has a shot at the majors."

Huller, a senior, compiled a 10-0 record and a 1.10 ERA for the Oriole landers last fall.

Huller had been discovered.

His telephone began to ring nonstop, with major-league scouts and collegiate coaches calling him for more information.

The Houston Astros, the Orioles and the Florida Marlins are three of several major-league teams that have expressed interest, and James Madison, George Mason, North Carolina State and the University of South Carolina want him to pitch for them next fall.

Gilbert, whose primary scouting area is Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia, said he plans to watch Huller pitch for North Carroll.

"I understand he's not throwing that well right now," said Gilbert. "So I'll give him a few more weeks until the weather gets a little warmer and he gets straightened out. The Orioles are definitely interested in him."

Huller has struggled in two starts for the Panthers, lasting three innings in a loss to Thomas Johnson and giving up seven runs in a route-going, 11-7 victory over Hammond last Monday. He struck out 14 Hammond hitters.

"My arm tightened up in the TJ game," said Huller. "It was cold that day, and it wasn't too much warmer when we played Hammond. I need better weather and more work on the mound."

Gilbert said Huller's pitches have been clocked in the low 90s on the JUGS gun and the mid-80s on radar.

Huller said he plans to commit to a college soon with George Mason his most likely choice.

"I know I want to go to college because who knows if I'll do !B anything with baseball," said Huller. "They really like me at George Mason. It is one of the top schools on my list. James Madison is also a good school."

However, Huller left the door open for signing with a major-league team that drafts him in June.

"I know I'll still be drafted, and I would sign if I got a decent bonus and a college scholarship," he said.

Meanwhile, Huller is getting used to all the attention he is receiving and his new status as a possible major-league pitcher.

"I never thought I would be in this position," he said. "I never thought anybody would find me up here. I guess I was born with a good arm to throw a baseball but it took me a long time to discover it."

Some of the credit for Huller's success has to go to Bob Ackerman of Reisterstown, who coached Huller on the Carroll County Rangers 16-18 team last summer that made it to the NABF Regionals in Pikesville.

"Bob had him on that team and thought he was good enough to come to the Oriolelanders tryouts," said Gilbert.

Huller had an 18-2 record for the Rangers last summer and said he plans to pitch for the Yankee Rebels this year.

But it was the first game he pitched for the Oriolelanders against the Bayside (N.Y.) Yankees last fall that gave Huller his biggest thrill in baseball.

"Pitching in front of 20 college and pro scouts for the first time is something else," he said. "It was a great experience to pitch for the Oriolelanders. If I kept the ball down and got a ground out like they told me to do, the fielders always made the play. And I had a good catcher, Sammy Serrano, to work with."

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