Tuesday, December 23, 2014

1998 Upper Deck, Ariel Prieto

#182 Ariel Prieto

Here is a card that I got signed at Spring Training this year. Ariel was a member of the A's coaching staff and I almost didn't get this card signed by him. He was one of the first guys out of the clubhouse that day and I had no clue who he was. He eventually started signing before he made it to the dugout. Lucky for me, an A's fan made it over by me and he had an A's yearbook with him. We looked up the coaches and were able to figure out that it was Ariel signing. So, I made my way over there and got my one card signed. This was the only card of him that I was able to find in my collection.

Ariel was a Cuban defector that made a mistake. He defected to the US. Had he defected to any other country, he would have been a free agent and been able to sign for any team at an amount to his liking. But, since he came here first, he had to enter the draft as a 26 year old.

He was selected fifth by the A's and made his Major League debut a couple of weeks later without playing in the minors. He debuted as a reliever and pitched two innings against the Angels while not allowing any runs on just one hit. He was moved to the rotation after that and had a pair of back-to-back starts where he nearly pitched complete games in both. The one game he did go the distance, the A's lost 1-0. Ariel eventually made his way back to the bullpen that season and finished his rookie season 2-6 with a 4.97 ERA.

Ariel was a starter for the next two seasons. He won 6 games both years and had ERAs around 5. In 1998, he made just two starts before being shut down and missing the rest of the season and all of 1999. He came back in 2000 and made 8 appearances, 6 starts, and was 1-2 with a 5.12 ERA. He was released by the A's after that season.

He was picked up by Tampa Bay, but pitched in just three minor league games and three Major League games in 2001. Those three games with the Devil Rays were the last he would pitch in the Majors. He continued to pitch in the minors through 2005, but never made it back up again.

Ariel is not listed as a member of the A's coaching staff now. I saw somewhere that he was Yeonis Cespedes' interpreter, so that may be why he is no longer with Oakland. Maybe he will end up in Detroit this year with Cespedes.

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