Meet the Jackfish: Ben Abram
When Ben Abram was passed over in the recent Major League Baseball draft, he quickly turned his attention elsewhere.
The 23-year-old Georgetown native had fours years of experience pitching at Oklahoma University before finishing up at Oklahoma State this season and had expectations of hearing his name called.
“It was tough,” the 6-foot-8 right-hander said. “I thought I had a good enough year for it but I also knew there was a chance it wasn’t going to happen as well. Watching the last couple of rounds go by and not really getting any calls in free agency, it hurt.”
Enter the Welland Jackfish who reached out to Abram.
“I’ve also been preparing that at some time that part of the game is going to end and this is a good chance for me to come and play in front of my family,” Abram said. “My grandfather (Paul Zaturski) lives just down the road and I spent tons of time here growing up.
“It’s kind of fun. I get to see everybody and hang out and it’s a first-class deal we have going on here.”
Jackfish manager Brian Essery was thrilled to acquire a pitcher of Abram’s talent.
“It was a huge pickup for us, especially at this time of year,” Essery said. “Really big signing for us.”
Despite his imposing frame, Abram isn’t a flame-thrower, instead relying on control and smarts to get outs.
“He attacks the zone,” Essery said.
Abram earned a win in his Jackfish debut, tossing four scoreless innings versus London.
“He still got his strikeouts, but we was putting the ball in play and letting his defence work for him. Let the strikeouts happen by throwing strikes,” Essery said.
Abram loves the art of pitching.
“My whole goal is to get as close to the plate as possible when I’m throwing the ball,” he said. “I’m not going to light up the radar gun that much but I’m going to throw four, five pitches for strikes and move the ball up and down, in and out. Sink it, cut it, whatever I have to do to get people out.
“I’ve made it this far by being a competitor more than anything. I’m not going to wow anybody but hopefully the numbers wow people.”
Abram fell in love with baseball early, forgoing hockey as he quickly grew as a youngster.
He competed for Team Canada in the Under-18 Pan-American Championships in 2018 and was ranked as the fourth-best prospect in Canada in 2017.
He was so impressive he was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 37th round of the 2018 draft, but instead chose the college route.
“The money they (Padres) were offering me, it just wasn’t worth it,” Abram said. “I was really excited to go to school and experience the American college life and I don’t regret my decision. I wish things would have gone a little differently while I was at school, a lot of things were out of my control that made it incredibly difficult for me.
“I’m just grateful I was drafted once. It was a cool experience for sure.”
Abram hasn’t given up on turning pro, but is committed to the Jackfish for the rest of this season.
“Maybe next year. I’ve had a lot of conversations with independent ball teams but quite honestly, I’m tired. I haven’t taken any time for myself in the last five years. This is where I’m going to be for the remainder of the year. I’m just enjoying it while I’m here.”
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