06/02/2004 11:13 AM ET
Jaramillo knows he has a 'job to do'
Switch-hitting catcher hopes work ethic will be noticed
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The decision to work hard was never a real option for Oklahoma State catcher Jason Jaramillo. It was a family tradition passed down to him from his father in Wisconsin and his father's father before him in Mexico.
|The Phillies drafted Oklahoma State catcher Jason Jaramillo for the second time. (Oklahoma State)
"Everybody has a job to do and my kids have a job to do," Jason's father, Francisco Jaramillo Sr. said. "We have to pay the bills. We are happy Jason had the opportunity to go to Oklahoma State, but the rest is up to him. We go to work everyday and he's learned that he does, too."
The switch-hitter's work on the collegiate level is almost complete. When the junior is selected in the First-Year Player Draft, Jaramillo will become the third player in his immediate family with the opportunity to play professional baseball, but more importantly, the son of a former migrant worker, will prove to himself that a good work ethic is the key to success in life.
The top collegiate catcher available in the First-Year Player Draft, Jaramillo is projected as a late first-round or a second-round pick. He's come a long way to get drafted -- literally.
"It was hard playing baseball in Wisconsin because baseball is not the greatest there," Jaramillo, 21, said. "So I did everything I could in high school to get the opportunity to play college ball in the South. I knocked on doors, I made phone calls, and I did everything I could to get as many games as I could."
In high school in Franksville, Wisconsin, Jaramillo was conference player of the year at J.I. Case High, earning all-state, all-district and all-conference honors during his four years there. He was drafted in the 39th round by the Phillies and considered Southern Illinois, Arizona State, and Stanford before deciding on OSU because of the school's tradition and the fact he could play baseball almost year-round.
It was the right choice.
This season, Jaramillo is a preseason all-american and nominated for the Johnny Bench Award. He is hitting .360 through 58 games with six home runs and 51 RBIs. He boasts a .491 slugging average and has called all the pitches in every game for the first time in his collegiate career.
Last season, he was a third-team all-american by Collegiate Baseball and led the team with a .385 average with nine homers and 42 RBIs. As a freshman in 2002, he hit .327 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 46 games played/29 starts at catcher.
"I was fortunate to get down here and that the coaches gave me a chance to play here at OSU," Jaramillo said. "It's been a blessing. It's kind of odd we ended up in Wisconsin, but things happen for a reason."
The reason the family landed in Wisconsin is because that's where the jobs were at the time.
Francisco Sr. moved from his home near Pierdas Negras, Coahuila, in Mexico to Wisconsin in 1970 to work the fields picking vegetables. He met his wife Nora -- who is from Texas -- there and soon traded in his life picking carrots and cabbage for an equally unsatisfying factory job with a tractor company. On a whim, Francisco bought a single dump truck and steadily built a construction company, Jaramillo Contractors.
Francisco Jr. was born in 1974 and brother Lee followed one year later.
"My wife should get all the credit," Francisco Sr. said. "I go to work and pay the bills, but she has a bigger job than me raising four kids and keeping up with the grades and the home. She has done a lot for our family."
Jaramillo Contractors works primarily in demolition and ironically, helped tear down Milwaukee's County Stadium. The elder Jaramillo joked that business is going so well that his recent trip to Big 12 Tournament in Arlington was sponsored in large part by a local restaurant -- the company demolished a Taco Bell only days before the competition.
"I am extremely proud of all of my sons and what we have been able to do as a family," Nora Jaramillo said. "Jason worked hard to get where he is at and I know all of our support has helped. You have to work hard to reach goals and overcome boundaries in this life. Nothing is free."
Jason credit's his family's work ethic and his brothers' help for his success. Francisco Jr. was an infielder who played in the Rangers organization during the late 1990s and Lee, a catcher, played in the Brewers organization during the same time frame.
As young players, the brothers searched for recognition in Wisconsin and unintentionally created a path for Jason filled with knowledge of what scouts look for and the business of baseball. In essence, their struggles were a blessing in disguise for their little brother.
"We were pioneers up here in a sense," Lee Jaramillo said. "We called scouts and did all we could. It was a dream come true, and I'm so happy we got the shot, but I know we didn't have the exposure we could have in Wisconsin. But that's the past and hopefully Jason can go further than we did."
Jason's brothers retired from baseball in 2001 after never advancing to the Double-A level. Lee, 28, currently works in the marketing department for the Brewers. Francisco Jr., 29, is an assistant baseball coach at a Division II school in Wisconsin. The youngest brother, Alexis Jaramillo, 19, does not play baseball.
"There is a lot of pressure with the draft and being a high-rated player, but I was fortunate I had two older brothers that played professional baseball so I know what it's about and I know what to expect," Jaramillo said. "I want to end the season in Omaha at the World Series and that helps me deal with the attention and pressure."
He's not worried about where he goes in the First-Year Player Draft as long as a team that will give him a chance to play selects him.
"Like my brothers always said, the draft is out of my control," he said. "I like that people appreciate the way I am playing, but I can't control anything but what I do on the field. I have to get after it out there."
He also has to keep the tradition alive.
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.