West Mifflin's Olasz picks Cincinnati
By Mark Kaboly
Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 11:03 a.m.
A.J. Olasz's record — 9-10 — during his first three years at West Mifflin isn't going to impress anybody, and surely wasn't going to pique the interest of any Division I college baseball programs.
At least that's what one would think.
But being a hard-throwing left-hander yet to turn 17 who averages more than a strikeout per inning since freshman year impressed quite a few people — even at Division I programs.
Olasz made a verbal commitment to Cincinnati after visiting the American Athletic Conference school Tuesday, becoming the first West Mifflin baseball player to commit to a Division I school out of high school since Jeff Rubinsak committed to Western Kentucky in 1987.
“As soon as I walked on that campus, I felt like it was the place I wanted to be,” Olasz said. “I knew right then that I was going to be comfortable there and that (new head coach Ty) Neal was going to do great things, and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Olasz chose Cincinnati over Wright State and Ohio. The rising senior also visited Villanova, Notre Dame, Michigan and Central Michigan over the past year.
“Being that he is a young senior and really could be a junior, Cincinnati is getting a heck of a ball player that will continue to peak through his freshman and sophomore seasons,” West Mifflin coach Jeff Kuzma said. “The reason why he was so heavily recruited is because he has such a big upside.”
Cincinnati recruited Olasz as a position player, as well, but he will mainly be used at pitcher, and for good reason.
Olasz is coming off a junior season in which he went 3-4 with a 2.68 ERA and struck out 64 in 401⁄3 innings for the 10-9 Titans. Olasz started 19 games in three years, going 9-10 with a 2.83 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 1061⁄3 innings.
Olasz is having a much better summer.
Playing for the 18-and-under Steel City Wildcats of the Western Pennsylvania Elite Baseball League, Olasz is 5-0 with a 1.21 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 29 innings.
Olasz also plays for Quinn Construction in the Daily News League and has played 31 games over the past 50 days.
“A.J. works hard, and that's why he's had success,” Kuzma said. “If you put in the time outside your regular season, what you do during the offseason, what you do preparing before a game is what makes you a great player and A.J. exemplifies that. It is paying dividend for him now.”
Olasz has a fastball that averages 85 and tops out at 88 to go along with a curveball and a changeup — a pitch he said he needs to work on.
“I definitely have to improve my changeup,” Olasz said. “I need to continue to develop that pitch because at the next level you have to have a third pitch.”
Olasz is an accomplished hitter as well.
He has played in every game for the Titans since his freshman year, carrying a .282 batting average with three home runs and 33 RBI, including a junior season in which he hit .333 with three homers and 18 RBI.
Olasz has really blossomed in the summer for the Wildcats, hitting .353 with five home runs and 24 RBI in 51 at-bats. During a doubleheader two weeks ago against Steel City Select, Olasz hit home runs in four consecutive at bats and missed a fifth by a couple feet.
“Yeah, it was a good day,” Olasz said.
Olasz is hitting .333 with Quinn Construction.
Next year, Olasz could be the first West Mifflin player taken in the Major League Baseball draft since Jim Samolovitch was selected by the Florida Marlins in the 33rd round in 2000, but he has sights set on Cincinnati right now.
“Everything about Cincinnati I love,” Olasz said. “I just can't wait.”
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.
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