A talented baseball player has many moments that he’ll remember his whole life. There’s the moment he’s drafted. For Jake Odorizzi, 22, that moment was in 2008 when he was drafted 32nd overall by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Dozens of other moments quickly arrived as he signed his first professional contract with a $1.06 million dollar signing bonus. The first Spring Training. The first professional game. The first pitch. All tremendous moments in a player’s life.
Odorizzi’s talent will insure hundreds more moments in his career. His fastball tops out at 95 MPH and he has what Mark Nasser, the voice of the Omaha Storm Chasers, called an “Uncle Charlie” curveball. He’s literally got a million dollar arm.
There’s also the moment he was traded to the Royals organization in a trade that included Cy Young Award winner, Zack Greinke.
But it wasn’t until a night in May, 2012, before Jake truly had HIS moment. The moment he knew he’d arrived.
The week of May 17, 2012 was a momentous week of moments for Odorizzi. He had had an amazing season for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. In the first month of the season, he logged a 3.32 ERA over 7 games for the AA Naturals. That’s when he got the call that he was moving up to the AAA Omaha Storm Chasers along with his friend, roommate, and teammate, Wil Myers, a superstar-to-be in his own right. “Wil got here an hour before me,” Odorizzi said following his first start in Omaha. A game in which he went 6 ⅔ innings, gave up 3 runs and had 4 strikeouts with only 1 walk.
After the game, Jake admitted that he had a lot of work to do to settle into this level of competition, but felt the jump from A ball to AA was more difficult than the jump from AA to AAA. But he did offer up, “you can tell the difference.”
Odorizzi might make yet one more jump this year as the Major League Royals’ pitching staff is decimated from injuries, poor performances and overuse. But yet, on this night, Odorizzi had one of those unforgettable moments.
Following the game, while answering reporters’ questions in the hallway, the clubhouse attendant walked by and set down a 12-pack of soda next to him. Odorizzi stopped in mid-sentence, breathless, then paused a moment longer.
“That’s my hometown drink.” The 12-pack was a 7-UP style package with “SKI” emblazoned on the side. Suddenly you could see he was taken back that the Storm Chasers organization would take such care of this million dollar pitcher with ace-type stuff to research and deliver his hometown soda. “It’s from a little town not far from where I’m from, it’s a local Illinois thing.” This was the moment Jake Odorizzi knew he was a special ballplayer. For all of the moments this kid has had and will have in his professional career, this might be one he’ll remember his whole life.