North Xtra: Pine-Richland grad in minors
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Just a few months ago, it appeared Dave Angle's baseball career was over.
A Pine-Richland High School graduate, he helped lead the revival of Point Park University's baseball team in 2011 when he hit better than .300 and led the club in home runs for the third consecutive season, but was not drafted by any major league team after his senior year.
What's more, this 6-foot-1, 229-pound catcher had an arm injury and had undergone "Tommy John surgery," which severely hampered his defensive abilities.
"I gave up in mid-August. I wasn't getting the pro workouts I wanted," Angle said "I didn't get calls ... nothing."
But today, Angle's baseball career has new life. After a successful season playing in the Texas Winter League this month, the United Baseball League, an independent minor league based in Texas and Louisiana, announced Angle had been drafted and will play on a team yet to be named. The UBL is similar to the Frontier League of which the Washington Wild Things are a member.
The Texas Winter League is a showcase league based in Harlingen, Texas, that concluded its inaugural season Wednesday. Players play in front of scouts and for managers of independent minor league baseball teams.
Angle will be playing for the same manager who he played for in the TWL, Chris Paterson, formerly of the Pecos League's White Sands Pupfish.
This concludes a month in which Angle, 23, a nephew of former Olympic gold medal winning wrestler Kurt Angle, not only hit .300 (15 for 50) in his first 17 games, but engaged in a home run hitting contest with former major league slugger Jose Canseco.
Angle came to the TWL at the recommendation of Point Park baseball coach Loren Torres, whom Angle credits for turning around the Pioneers program from a losing one in his sophomore and junior seasons to a nationally ranked team in 2011.
"As seniors, we all bought into the same system. Everyone got into the same boat," Angle said. "One quote from Torres was 'We will never be out-hustled or out-prepared!' He whipped us into shape."
It was a mindset also instilled in him by his Uncle Kurt, whom Dave talks to about once a week.
"Whenever I talk to him, he says to train harder than anyone else," Dave Angle said.
In 2011 scouts from major league organizations were beginning to make contact with this power-hitting catcher who made only two errors during his entire collegiate career.
Then something happened.
"It was April 14. A cold day. I threw the ball down in warm-ups against Mt. Vernon Nazarene and heard a snap," Angle said. "I caught until May 3 and am glad I did it for my teammates and coaches because it was a special year turning Point Park around."
After posting a 13-26 mark in 2010, the Pioneers went 38-13 and were ranked 23rd in the final NAIA poll in 2011, with Angle hitting .324 with seven home runs and 46 runs batted in during his senior year.
But with the need for one ligament in his left arm to be transferred to his right, Angle had no place to play ... until now.
"Torres referred me here. He said it was a great opportunity," Angle said. "He said 'Give it one shot and see where it takes you.'"
In the meantime, Angle started a weight training program and improved his swing.
"I simplified my swing. I'm using my upper body less and my legs more," Angle said. "Your legs are stronger than your upper body. I'm hitting the ball farther now with a wooden bat than I did with a metal one in college."
As a result, Angle hit perhaps the longest home run of the TWL season, bouncing a ball off the roof of the clubhouse behind the left field wall at Harlingen Field, a drive of 385 feet.
Angle is required to be on a United League team's roster for at least 14 games this season.
First Published February 28, 2013 12:00 am