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Tommy Milone, Chipper Smith visit G.V.

Local products and pro baseball players help out high school players

Posted: February 6, 2014 9:51 p.m.
Updated: February 6, 2014 9:51 p.m.

Oakland Athletics pitcher and Saugus graduate Tommy Milone, right, stands on the baseball field at Golden Valley High School on Tuesday.

 

Golden Valley first-year head baseball coach Gino Pomilia said there’s no lying in his program.

He doesn’t want lies from his players, so he won’t lie to them.

So when he told his players this winter that a Major League pitcher would be throwing to them, he knew some of them looked at him like he was fibbing.

Again — he doesn’t lie.

That Major Leaguer threw to the Golden Valley varsity players, and he brought with him a guy who might be an even bigger role model to these Grizzlies.

Saugus High graduate and Oakland A’s starting pitcher Tommy Milone and Golden Valley High graduate and professional baseball player Chipper Smith have recently been training for the upcoming season at Golden Valley High.

Pomilia’s son J.D. played baseball with Milone at USC and is still close with his former teammate.

At Golden Valley, Milone found a place to throw bullpen sessions and get ready for the 2014 Major League season.

At the same time, Grizzly baseball players were getting ready for the Foothill League season.

“Thinking back, when I was in high school, if I had a guy who played in the big leagues come out ... a guy who’s been there, done that, see how he goes about his day and his business and gets through his day, just to see what it’s like, (it would be beneficial),” Milone said.

Milone did have that at Saugus High in former Major Leaguer Roger Salkeld, who to this day is a presence at his former high school.

Pomilia, who said he’s changed the program to make it more efficient (especially in practices where there are more hitting stations for example), said he sees his kids trying to learn what made Milone and Smith so successful.

“When he’s throwing his bullpens, they’re all watching him — his delivery and all his pitches look the same,” Pomilia said.

Varsity veteran John Mark Niednagel, who Pomilia is high on because of his 6-foot-2-inch frame and mid-80s fastball, didn’t see much action on the mound in 2013.

He is expected to get more time in 2014 and said he made the most of watching Milone.

Milone’s change-up is his best pitch and Niednagel said he has made adjustments on his own change based off what he has gathered from watching the Major Leaguer.

As for Smith, Niednagel said his impact is something all Grizzly players can take as inspiration.

“You have guys from Valencia (High) and West Ranch (High),” Niednagel said of other local schools that have been springboards to the next level for many local baseball players. “It’s good to know we have guys come out of Golden Valley.”

Smith, a left-handed pitcher, was drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 38th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Last season he went 8-3 with a 2.74 ERA in Single-A Greensboro.

“Anyone can do it,” Smith said. “As long as you work hard and stay dedicated. I graduated from here six years ago. I was in the same position (as them), fighting to play with a dream to play at the next level.”

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