Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

June 25, 2013

Athletics runs in pitcher's family

PRINCETON — There are not many similarities between New Orleans and Princeton, but one thing the two places have in common is a left-handed pitcher named Stone Speer.

Speer, a native of the Big Easy, played high school ball there and pitched for the University of New Orleans Privateers. This summer he will be taking to the mound for the Princeton Rays in his first season of professional baseball.

A product of an athletic family, the 22-year-old Speer has worked one inning so far for the Rays, pitching Thursday night in Danville where he allowed a hit, a run, a walk and picked up a strikeout against the Braves.

“My dad, Oscar, played for the Dallas Cowboys, he was a kicker, and my older brother Colt, played for the New Orleans Saints. He was a running back who played at Nicholls State,” Speer said.

He went on to explain how he became a baseball player in a football playing family.

“A good friend of mine, Mason Katz, he played at LSU, and a couple of other guys, Nate Ferry and Tommy Mullins, they all played baseball and we grew up together.

“They said, ‘Hey man, come outside and give it a try,’ talking about summer ball, and I was like, ‘All right, man.’ So I gave it a shot and it ended up working out for me.”

Asked if he is ever ribbed by his father and brother for not following in their footsteps and playing on the gridiron, Speer said, “They kind of mess with me a little bit, but they are supportive. They support as much as possible.”

The elder Speer was scheduled to come into town for the team’s home opening series which concludes today, against Burlington.

At UNO this past year as a senior, Speer made 19 appearances, including 10 starts. His season-long outing was seven innings, which he did twice, including once against WVU on March 30 in Morgantown.

In his junior year for the Privateers, Speer had a 4-4 record with a 4.06 ERA. He started 12 games and came in six times from the bullpen, leading the team in innings pitched and opponent batting average (.251).

Speer was selected in the 25th round of the draft earlier this month by Tampa Bay. Asked about the biggest transition he and other young players have to make, Speer had a few thoughts.

“I guess being far away from home and your support system and being on the road playing so many games,” Speer commented. “It is what it will be and I will work in getting adjusted to it and learning how the system works.”

Speer gave credit to his coaches at UNO for helping him become a professional baseball player.

“I loved my head coach, Bruce Peddie. I liked my pitching coach, Justin Garcia, he played professional baseball along with Coach Peddie, and hitting coach James Jurries, who played with the Braves for a while, made it to the big league roster,” Speer said.

“The coaching staff I loved, and the people over there are wonderful. And to play in front of my home city was awesome.”

Used in all pitching roles in college, from starter, to long relief, short relief and closer, Speer is just happy to be a professional and will take whatever role is given him.

“At UNO I did everything and wherever they want to use me here is fine,” he said.

Unlike some players who had never been to this part of the country prior to joining the Rays, Speer did get to experience a part of West Virginia when the Privateers played against WVU in Morgantown earlier this season and he spoke about his home for the next couple of months.

“It’s definitely different from New Orleans,” Speer commented. “It took me a couple of days to adjust. I’m getting used to it now, I guess. I am used to big city, bright lights. This is small town, mountains. It’s definitely an adjustment, but I will do fine.”

— Contact Bob Redd at

bredd@bdtonline.com

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