Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Local hero in the minors

Aspito's baseball odyssey brings him back home to the
Author(s):    Joe Bush Daily Herald Sports Writer
Date: July 6, 2000
Page: 3
Section: Sports
Baseball has taken Jason Aspito to Texas, California and Alaska. The Los Angeles beaches can ensnare a young man, but the Chicago White Sox plucked Aspito from the sun and the fun and he's back in the Midwest ... League.

Aspito, a 1997 graduate of Driscoll Catholic High School, which he helped win two Class A titles, is glad to be near home.

Drafted in the ninth round a month ago, he's a member of the White Sox' Class A Burlington club, and was with it when it visited Kane County for a 3-game set this week.

"I'm a Chicago boy," he says. "I liked it out there, though."

Aspito's U.S. baseball tour began in the fall of 1997. The White Sox drafted Aspito in the 45th round out of high school, but he had a scholarship to the University of Texas in hand, and that's where he went.

Aspito had a fine freshman year, but was switched from infield to outfield, then saw his playing time drop. He asked for a transfer after his sophomore season because his dream was in danger.

"I wasn't give a chance to play against lefties," the left- handed hitter says. "I had to play every day if I was going to get where I wanted to get, and that was (pro ball)."

Aspito got his release - so he wouldn't have to sit for a season - but only to schools outside the Big 12 Conference. Los Angeles' Loyola Marymount pursued him the most, and that's where he went.

The Lions had a top-20 season, and the increased exposure, plus a fine year, improved Aspito's draft status by 36 rounds.

Like many of the country's top college players, Aspito played in wood-bat leagues in the summer, including a stint on the Alaskan circuit last summer.

It appears Aspito will have less trouble hitting in pro ball than finding a position. He played four positions at Loyola, and believes his ticket to the big show is versatility.

"I think they'd like me to be a utility guy all the way up," says Aspito, who had played most of his 14 pro games through Wednesday at third base. "I'm a left-handed hitter, and there's a need for left-handed hitters in the big leagues."

Bees manager Jerry Terrell, a baseball lifer, likes Aspito's work ethic and also sees a little of himself in the 21-year-old Itasca native. Terrell played second base most of his life, but played all nine positions in the big leagues.

"I've seen a kid that's very coachable," Terrell says. "In the 14 days, I've seen tremendous improvement on his defensive play at third base. If he can improve at this rate, this quickly, he's going to go a long way."

Aspito was batting .200 before the Bees' 7-6 win Wednesday, when he went 2 for 5 with a double and an RBI.

"My first two weeks here, I hit balls hard, and the infielders are a little better and they make plays on you, and then you start getting outside yourself a little bit, and you're out before you even start," Aspito says.

"It's a growing process, I guess, and I think I'll be able to handle it."

If he does, his tour will include Winston-Salem, N.C. (the other White Sox Class A team), Birmingam, Ala. (Class AA, and Charlotte, N.C. (Class AAA).

The next stop would be - where else? - Chicago (major league).
© Copyright Daily Herald, Paddock Publications, Inc.


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