Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

June 30, 2013

Silverstein’s stay in Bluefield was brief

By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Scott Silverstein was expecting to pitch for the Bluefield Blue Jays on Saturday night in Danville.

Instead, the product of the University of Virginia was three time zones away as the Vancouver Canadians played in the Class A (Short Season) Northwest League.

“Coming from where I come from at the University of Virginia and the opportunities there, it is the same game I played my whole life,” Silverstein said. “I am used to being challenged with new things and new opportunities so this is a lot of fun.”

Silverstein learned of the promotion after Bluefield’s win over Burlington on Thursday night.

“He was a college guy, he was a senior, he pitched the one game in Pulaski and pitched very well,” Bluefield manager Dennis Holmberg said. “This league is pretty much below his level of competition so he is going to Vancouver. The Northwest League is a little faster pace and a little more of a college-driven league.”

Silverstein, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound southpaw — who was interviewed earlier on Thursday — had a stellar senior season for the Cavaliers after missing much of three campaigns with a pair of surgeries to repair the labium in his left shoulder.

“I really wasn’t that concerned about getting an opportunity, honestly I just wanted our team to win,” said Silverstein, who was 10-2 with a 3.15 earned run average in 16 starts and 91 innings of work as a senior for the Cavaliers. “I wanted to have success individually, but more importantly I wanted to help take our team to the World Series.

“We fell short, but I am really proud of the season that I had and I am proud of the season my team had.”

Silverstein was a 25th round draft choice by Toronto earlier this month.

“It was obviously really exciting,” said Silverstein, who was a 32nd round choice in 2008 by the Washington Nationals. “I worked really hard just to get healthy and I was really honored just for somebody to give me the opportunity to play pro baseball.

“It is something I have worked towards, and being drafted was obviously was the end goal, but it is a goal along the way to hopefully a professional career.”

A native of Brookeville, Md., it took Silverstein one visit to Charlottesville and he was hooked on the Cavaliers.  

“I came down for a visit and I fell in love,” he said. “The best decision of my life was to go to UVa.”

Silverstein, who graduated from Virginia in 2012 with a degree in American Studies and has since secured a masters in Education, had said he ‘loved’ his tenure in the Appalachian League, but his stay didn’t last long.

He pitched once for Bluefield, allowing four hits, striking out four and walking none over six innings in a no-decision for a Blue Jays’ win last Monday in Pulaski.

“I am happy, I definitely had some jitters, but I think it went really well,” said Silverstein, who faced former Virginia teammate Keith Werman, who managed a bunt single in three at-bats for the Mariners. “I was able to command a couple of pitches for strikes and keep them off-balanced and hopefully we can repeat it moving forward.”

Silverstein expected it to happen on Saturday, but Holmberg called for a quick team meeting after the Blue Jays’ 2-0 win over Burlington on Thursday to announce his promotion to Vancouver.

 “He is big, he has got size, he is left-handed and he throws strikes,” said Holmberg, whose Blue Jays promoted 13 players to the Canadians last summer. “He competes real well, he is coming off a college program at Virginia where there is nothing that is going to faze him.

“It is the right spot and the right time and he is on the way to Vancouver.”

The fact that Silverstein is pitching anywhere is a tribute to hard work. Silverstein didn’t pitch as a prep senior or during his first two years at Virginia, but had a stellar senior campaign after struggling to a 2-5 mark and a 4.48 ERA in 2012.

“I was coming off three years of not pitching at all really from being injured,” the 23-year-old Silverstein said. “Obviously the numbers don’t prove it, but my attitude towards last year is I am really proud of the fact that I was able to go out there every week and start for the team, whether it was seven innings or two innings.

“It was an opportunity for me to learn how to pitch again and put my best foot forward coming into this year and obviously it proved good.”

Definitely. Silverstein also shined in the classroom at Virginia, earning All-ACC academic honors, and never failed to make the honor roll in high school.

“I really loved my time there,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure I exhausted every opportunity to really put it all out there for something I really liked.”

Silverstein was a key cog in Virginia’s 50-12 season, although the campaign ended early when Virginia lost to College World Series runner-up Mississippi State in the NCAA super-regionals.  

“We had a really good team, led by a great coaching staff,” said Silverstein, who was part of two teams at Virginia that reached the College World Series in 2009 and 2011. “Obviously we are disappointed with the way it ended, but I walked out of there with my head held high knowing that I gave it everything I could and I am really proud of my time there.”

Even though Silverstein has left Bluefield, he liked what he saw from his pitching partners on the Blue Jays.

“They have definitely got the physical talent, they are obviously learning the game, being 19 or 20 years old,” said Silverstein, who feels like it is ‘only a matter of time’ before the ACC finally wins another World Series, with Wake Forest last claiming the prize in 1955. “Obviously there are a lot of physically talented kids and I think once they can put it all together, there is no reason why all us shouldn’t compete at the highest level.”

His level changed quickly last Thursday, but his philosophy in Vancouver will, no doubt, be the same as it was in Bluefield.

“Every time I go out I am just going to compete,” Silverstein said. “I will worry about what I can control and not get ahead of myself and try to give this team a good start hopefully every five days and give us a chance to win...

“My goal is to go out there and give us a quality start and give us a chance to win the game. I can’t win it by myself, we have got a good team, but we are always going to go out and compete and see what happens.”

— Contact Brian Woodson

bwoodson@bdtonline.com