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Chasing The Dream: The Cameron Selik Story and Interview

The 2010 MLB draft will most likely go down as the year Bryce Harper got drafted. As with the 1st pick overall The Washington Nationals selected the young phenom who was on major sports magazines touting him as the “next one” before he was even draft eligible. In this weeks spotlight we focus on Cameron Selik whom The Washington National selected in the same draft in the 22nd round. Find out his story as he chases his dream to the big leagues.

Cameron Selik: Quick Stats

Team: Washington Nationals Twitter: @cameronselik

Height: 6′ 2″, Weight: 235 lb. Born: August 25, 1987 in San Diego, California, US (Age 24)

Drafted:  Washington Nationals in the 22nd round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft

Favorite Player Growing Up: Ken Caminiti and Tony Gwynn

Chasing The Dream: The Cameron Selik  Story

The 2010 MLB draft will most likely go down as the year Bryce Harper got drafted. As with the 1st pick overall The Washington Nationals selected the young phenom who was on major sports magazines touting him as the “next one” before he was even draft eligible. In this weeks spotlight we focus on Cameron Selik whom The Washington National selected in the same draft in the 22nd round. Find out his story as he chases his dream to the big leagues.

We start this story going back to high school where Selik played on various travel and pony league teams with another current member of the Nationals organization, Steven Strasburg. During their time competing and playing together Selik was a catcher. So at various times these two were battery mates together. At this time little did these two players know that their careers would cross paths in more ways than one.

Selik with The Hagerstown Suns (Suns Fan Club Page)

After finishing high school, Selik went on to play a few seasons at  Grossmont Junior College in his hometown of San Diego. At Grossmont the former catcher was converted into a pitcher to utilize his strong-arm. This got Selik noticed and he was offered a scholarship at the University of Nevada. That is when the three dreaded words no pitcher ever once to hear struck, Tommy John Surgery. Not only did the right hander have to undergo the surgery and the long recovery process but his scholarship taken back once the university found out he would not be able to pitch for them.

As one chapter of the book ends and new one often begins. With hard work, rehab, and a few connections Selik was able to get Kansas Jayhawk coach Ritch Price to watch him throw. Soon after that everything fell back into place and Selik found himself on his way to Kansas as a member of the Jayhawk baseball team. At Kansas, Selik not only established himself as a pitcher but he put himself on the radar of major league scouts. He proved he was healthy and that he could throw his fast ball in the mid 90s. Anytime a pitcher can do that it catches scouts attention. Besides the Fastball, Selik features a solid four pitch mix which also features a Curveball, Slider and Change-Up. It obviously caught the attention of the Washington Nationals when they made him their 22nd round draft pick in the 2010 draft.

After signing with the Nationals, Selik got a taste of professional baseball making his debut with Vermont Lake Monsters in the New York Penn League. Appearing in 15 games out of the bullpen, the righty posted a solid 2.54 ERA and struck out batters at an impressive 10.2 batters per 9 innings. In 2011 Selik opened the season with the Hagerstown Suns. In five starts, he dominated, posting a miniscule ERA of 0.31. He posted wins in 3 of the 5 starts and struck out 9.2 batters per 9 innings. The Nationals saw enough of Selik at this early juncture of the season to promote him to Potomac, which is their highest single A team. With Potomac Selik faced many challenges. Not only would the competition be more experienced but Selik himself had never been through the grind of a full minor league season. The combination of both eventually caught up with the pitcher. In 22 games with Potomac, 16 of them starts Selik would finish with a 4-9 record and a respectable 4.52 ERA. Even after facing these challenges in 2011 Selik will be prepared as the 2012 season nears.

Previously I mentioned how Steven Strasburg and Cameron Selik would cross paths again. Unfortunately for both these young pitchers they both have now had to face Tommy John Surgery. While rehabbing through the minors these two old high school travel teammates would once again be teammates as Strasburg briefly was a member of the 2011 Potomac Nationals. Lets hope that the next time these two players meet during an official game its in the dugout in Washington D.C. for a Washington Nationals home game.

Seven Questions with Cameron Selik

What was it like to be drafted, what were you doing when you found out?

Being drafted was a life long dream come true. Like every little leaguer, my dream was always to play baseball professionaly. It was the final stepping stone to prove to myself that all the hours and hours of time I put in were all worth it. On draft day, a few of my teammates at the University of Kansas had planned to not watch and play te waiting game but actually go golfing and not stress about hearing our names being called. However, being in kansas that was not allowed to happen because it was extremely cold that day. So we ended up doing just that, sitting in a room playing MLB the Show on Xbox and listening to the draft. All three of us were hoping to hear our names and It finally happened starting with Brett Bochy going to the SF Giants in the 18th round, Myself going to the Nats in the 22nd round, and Travis Blankenship going to the Astros in the 31rst round. The funny thing is the Computer froze when my name was called and we missed the whole round and then we checked and saw my name about 10 minutes later.

Reading up on your career I saw that you had Tommy John surgery at a young age. What was that experience like for you and how hard is it to rehab and come back from surgery like that?

Tommy John Surgery made a major impact on my baseball career. I was playing at Grossmont Junior College in San Diego during my sophmore season when I felt the pop in my elbow on the second pitch of the game against our biggest rival. I had already accepted and Signed my letter of Intent to continue my career at the University Nevada, Las Vegas. Unfortunally, they released me from my scholorship after the news came accross that my elbow needed the surgery. For me personally, the injury showed me just how important the game was to me. I felt that a freak injury tried to take from me the one thing I loved most. I promised my family and coaches I would do whatever it took to make my way back to the game I loved. I stayed at Grossmont and helped the team as an assistant pitching coach under Head Coach Randy Abshier. I was not hearing from any D1 schools and was on the verge with signing with one of a few small schools on the east coast until the Coach at Palomar Junior college and I had a conversation before a game. He told me he would make a call and that night I recieved a call from Head Coach Ritch Price at Kansas and everything fell into place for me.

I also saw that you played High School Baseball with Steven Strasburg. I believe I read that you were his catcher…Im sure you have been asked this question a time or two but what what was that experience like to catch him before he became a big time prospect. Also Irony has placed you in the same organization did you get to catch up with him when he was on his rehab assignment?

Yes you can say I have been asked this before. The story was that Stephen and I played some travel ball and Pony ball with each other and against each other in High School and yes at that time I was not pitching and was a catcher where I caught him on many occasions. Yes we did catch up a little bit and talk about family and old friends that we still both keep in contact with but like you may think, he is all business on the field and was working really hard to get his arm ready for his return to the Majors.

What pitches do you throw? What is you biggest strengths and weakness as a Pitcher?

I throw fastball, curve, slider, and change. the basic repitore of a starting pitcher. I never really threw a change up till this year and worked really hard with both pitching coaches I had this season. I believe my strengths as a pitcher is that I am not afraid of anyone and will come at all hitters with any pitch in any count and have the ability to throw all four pitches for quailty strikes. As far as weakness goes, I am still learning how to pitch and read these great hitters that I have to face and make adjusments on the fly to get out of jams.

Every player has ups and downs. So far in your pro career what has been your biggest up and your biggest down?

My biggest up has been being called up from Low A Hagerstown to High A Potomac after just 5 starts into the season. It showed me that the Nationals Organization has faith in me and believed I was ready for a new challange. the Biggest down for me has to be the struggle I had in my first full season. 140 games was many more than I had ever played in one season and 135 innings were much more than I had ever thrown. So like many pitchers, I hit a bit of a dead arm phase and had to find a way to work through it and finish strong for my teammates and into the playoffs.

Have the Nationals told you about what they have planned for you for 2012 as we inch closer to spring training?

No they have not, I am waiting to get my report date here in the mail sometime soon and show up to Spring Training ready to go and have a great year.

Who has been the toughest batter or batters that you have faced in your professional career so far?

Every hitter I face is tough. It is hard to say who the toughest hitter I have faced. If I had to choose though, facing my own teammates in Spring Training last year like Bryce Harper and Tyler Moore.

Finally a fun question — Who was your favorite player or players growing up? Have you collected and neat mementos/memorabila since you started playing professional baseball?

Growing up in San Diego during the 90s, my favorite player growing up Ken Caminiti and Tony Gwynn. After I started pitching the player I watched the most to learn how to pitch was Jake Peavy. I really wish I did collect a lot more memorbelia as a child growing up but since I started playing in the minors I have collected a little more from the guys I have played with.

A big thanks to Cameron for taking time out to sit down and answer some questions as his road the the majors continues. We look forward to following him during the 2012 season. Please follow  Cameron at @cameronselik to follow his progression in 2012 as well.

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  1. Looking Back On 2012 | Chasing The Dream

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