Sports

Aguilar on cusp of Opening Day roster

Things are happening quickly for Omar Aguilar.

After a trip to Washington D.C. last week, the former Merced College star is set to fly out to Milwaukee on Thursday to be a part of the Brewers' Fan Fest.

Life becomes a little more exciting when you're named to a Major League Baseball 40-man roster.

But despite the whirlwind of activity, Aguilar is determined to take his time and enjoy the moment.

"It's hectic, but awesome," Aguilar said. "Fan Fest is something I've never done before, so I'm really looking forward to it.

"I want to meet the guys and just try to take the whole thing in."

The 2009 season could be one of many firsts for Aguilar.

He had a brilliant start to 2008, moving up from High-A Brevard County to Double-A Huntsville after recording a 3-0 record with 13 saves and a 0.35 earned run average.

The Livingston grad didn't skip a beat moving up a level. Aguilar posted a 3.08 ERA and four saves in 47 games at Double A.

Aguilar capped his brilliant year with a good showing in the Arizona Fall League. He was named an AFL rising star after allowing just two runs in 11 games.

The Brewers apparently agreed with the AFL's assessment, adding Aguilar to the team's 40-man roster.

"I think they've known all along what he's capable of," Merced College baseball coach Chris Pedretti said.

"Anytime you have a pitcher who has arm trouble, there's going to be a little concern.

"But watching him and talking to him, he says his arm feels as good as it ever has.

"It's easy to see why the Brewers are excited. I've never, in my 27 years, been around a kid who throws as hard as he throws."

Aguilar's career flashed before his eyes when he had to have Tommy John surgery in 2005.

After a year's worth of rehab, a throwing program and rebuilding arm strength, Aguilar regained his electric fastball.

The adversity also taught him how important his complementary pitches are.

Aguilar's development of those pitches -- particularly his changeup -- is what has him on the cusp of the major leagues.

"My fastball is what got me drafted. But when I hurt my arm, I realized I need to have a few other tricks," Aguilar said. "My first two years in the minors I was a thrower.

"Last year I really worked on becoming a pitcher."

Because of the strides Aguilar made, the closer will head into Spring Training with an outside chance of making the opening day roster.

"If it happens, that will be great," Aguilar said. "But if I'm in Triple-A or back in Double-A, I'm just happy to be pitching and trying to get better.

"It'll happen when it's meant to happen."

If Aguilar's 2009 is anything like 2008, it could happen much sooner than later.

Aguilar File

POSITION: Pitcher

THROWS: Right

YEARS PRO: 3

ORGANIZATION: Milwaukee Brewers

DRAFTED: Selected in the 30th round by Milwaukee in 2005.

LAST YEAR: Aguilar had a combined 3-3 record with a 1.98 ERA and 17 saves in High Class A and Double A. Was named to the Brewers' 40-man roster after earning Arizona Fall League rising star honors.

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