On July 28th, Jeff Samardzija made his final start in Minor League baseball before loading up his car and heading to South Bend for football practice.
Jeff made the most of his nearly 2-month minor league stint with the Boise Hawks and Peoria Chiefs, minor league clubs in the Chicago Cubs’ organization.
After a very shaky first outing which you may have read about earlier on uhnd.com, Samardzija settled down and started pitching like the highly touted prospect he is. He finished his run at Boise with a 1-1 record, posting a stellar 2.37 ERA during that span.
This great run got him promoted to Peoria, where he made his first of 2 starts with the Chiefs on July 23rd. He took the loss in this game 4-1. Jeff surrendered 3 runs in the first inning but then settled down to go 4 more scoreless innings.
The 6’6 right hander was considered by many to have 1st round talent, but the fact that he is almost certainly a first day if not a first round draft choice in this coming April’s NFL Draft scared most teams away from taking him that early. When the Cubs saw he was available in the 5th round when it was their turn, they just couldn’t pass up on a player with as much potential as the Shark.
Samardzija is a very attractive prospect because of his lengthy size and work ethic. Scouts have said that he can get his fast ball up there in velocity, can throw a very good slider, and has the mental toughness that goes along with being a major league pitcher. Jeff has had some control problems at times during his minor league pitching career, but a lot of his starts have loyal Cub fans excited over his potential.
The Cub fans aren’t the only ones excited with the Shark’s summer performance; in fact, many of his future teammates are excited about the possibility of him being a top-notch pitcher in their rotation in the near future as well. A few weeks ago Jeff threw for a while in the Wrigley Field Bullpen while future hall of famer Greg Maddux looked on. He also had an opportunity to chat with Mark Prior.
Despite his success in the minor leagues, it should come to Jeff as a relief that he will be able to concentrate on just 1 sport for the next few months while playing football for the Irish. During his minor league stint he had to stay with a host family, and while Jeff said he didn’t mind it, you can bet he will welcome the opportunity to stay at his usual dorm with roommate Tom Zbikowski. Now that baseball is being put on hold, he will be able to concentrate on helping the Irish bring a convened National Title to South Bend this fall, and also on his schoolwork.
Jeff says that as of now, he would love to play professional football and baseball in the future. He is already a baseball player, but it will be very hard for him to pass up on football too. Last season with the Irish he became just the 3rd player in school history to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving, and set a new school record with 15 touchdown catches. Pair him with fellow star Rhema McKnight at wide receiver this year for Notre Dame, and he should solidify himself as a 1st round pick for this the NFL draft in April.
Be it a football player, a baseball player, or both, young Jeff Samardzija has worked his tail off his whole life to get to where he is today. Most people would give a limb to play professional baseball or football, and Jeff can decide which one he wants to do. He can take the 1st round money that is going to be thrown his way in April, or he can take the money the Cubs offered him and play baseball. It is truly a great position to be in for a great young football player. The only thing that could make Jeff’s stay at South Bend is a National Title ring…and it’s not too crazy to suggest one may find itself on his ring finger in January.
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