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August 18, 2006

A L U M N I    U P D A T E

SCOTT CHIASSON'S LIFE BACK IN THE FAST LANE

Former Eastern closer on brink of resurrecting major league baseball career

For his month-long accomplishments, Scott Chiasson was rewarded as July’s Pitcher-of-the-Month by the Louisville Bats.

Come the end of August, the former Eastern Connecticut State University All-America right-handed baseball pitcher with the hard fastball hopes to be rewarded with a ticket to Cincinnati, Ohio and the restoration of his major league career.

By all accounts, Chiasson has regained the fastball and form which landed him in the big leagues with the Chicago Cubs during the 2001 and 2002 seasons – after just two full seasons in professional baseball.

Four years and four organizations since appearing in ten games in a major league uniform uniform before the age of 25, the 29-year-old Chiasson has miraculously resurrected a career which was all but over because of  two major arm injuries.


EDITOR'S NOTE: At the conclusion of Louisville's season, Chiasson asked for and received his release from the Cincinnati Reds' organization. He is hoping to sign a contract overseas. Lousville finished third in the West Division of the IL with a 75-68 record,  a half-game out of first place. Chiasson appeared in 60 of the team's 143 games, all in relief. He was 3-2 with a 1.91 ERA and a staff-high 29 saves in 61 1/3 innings. He had 49 strikeouts and 29 walks, allowing 40 hits.


Signed by the Cincinnati Reds last winter after being granted free agency by the San Francisco Giants last fall, Chiasson has dominated Triple A batters this summer as the bullpen ace of the Lousville Bats of the International League. Through games of August 17, Chiasson was the league leader with 52 appearances – a feat which ranks him among the Top Ten in all of minor league baseball  – and was third in the league with 26 saves.

For the month of July, the former Eastern first-team All-America was named Louisville’s Pitcher-of-the-Month. In that time, he had nine saves to go along with a win in his only decision and fashioned a 1.46 ERA.

In 55 innings this year, he is 2-2 with a 2.13 ERA, 42 strikeouts and 25 walks  and has given up a team-leading average of only 1.07 hits and walks per inning. Those numbers have made the Bats a playoff contender (Louisville stands 1 ½ games behind West Division leader Indianapolis) with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

Since being drafted in the fifth round of the 1998 First Year Player Draft by the Kansas City Royals after his junior season at Eastern (the Warriors’ highest pick ever in the summer draft), the 6-foot-3 inch, 200-pound Norwich, Conn. native has compiled 69 saves and 458 strikeouts in just under 500 innings over 259 minor league games. At Eastern, he was named first-team All-America as a junior in 1998, when he won six games and saved ten and pitched the Warriors to their third national championship.

 

After appearing in just 13 games in the Chicago organization in the summer of 1998, Chiasson was sent to the Oakland A’s in June of 1999 as a player-to-be-named later for major leaguer Jay Witasick. After winning 11 games and striking out 150 in 156 innings as a starting pitcher for Visalia in the Class A California in 2000, Chiasson was converted to a fulltime closer by the Cubs after being selected by Chicago as the No. 1 choice in the Rule V draft that winter. In that role, he made himself into one of the organization’s Top Ten prospects. That summer, he earned a spot in the Futures’ Game, collecting 34 saves in 63 games while splitting the 2001 season between Class AA West Tennessee and Class AAA Iowa.

As a late-season major league call-up in both 2001 and 2002, Chiasson pitched a total of 11 1/3 innings in ten games out of the bullpen for the Cubs, winning one game and losing one with an 11.12 ERA. Ironically, his first big-league appearance came against the Cincinnti Reds on Sept. 19, 2001, when he struck out two batters in an inning. His major league win to date came later that month when he pitched 1/3 of an inning in a 7-6 win over the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field.  In six games with Chicago that year, he was 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA, six strikeouts and two walks.

But just as his big-league career was picking up steam, the first serious arm injury of his career put it on hold. Despite getting another shot with Chicago, his 2002 season was stopped in early July after he tore his Ulnar Collateral Ligament. Following surgery, he missed most all of the 2003 season while undergoing rehabilitation before beginning the long road back in 2004.

With his stock plunging, Chiasson was granted free agency by Chicago after the 2004 season and signed with Colorado, but broke his left arm while diving back to first base early in the season at Class AAA Colorado Springs. Frustrated, Chiasson asked for his release from Colorado and returned home to his wife and infant son in Norwich in late June. On the recommendation of Norwich Navigator batting coach Roger LaFrancois – an eastern Connecticut native who attended Griswold High School in Jewett City in the early 1970s – Chiasson was quickly signed by the San Francisco Giants and added to the Navigators’ injury-riddled  roster for the remainder of the summer. Back in comfortable surroundings, Chiasson appeared in 15 games for the Class AA Navigators, striking out 25 batters in 19 innings.

After evaluating his options, Chiasson cut his ties with San Francisco last October and signed with Cincinnati – his sixth major league organization -- over the winter. A non-roster invitee to camp in February, Chiasson pitched one inning with the big league club in spring season before being shuttled 100 miles south of Cincinnati to Louisville, Kentucky for the start of his ninth minor league season.

And having shaken his injuries and re-gained both his fastball and confidence, Scott Chiasson fully understands that Cincinnati and the resumption of his once-promising big-league career lies firmly within sight.

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