Acosta Enjoys Homecoming of Sorts

When Ryan Acosta stepped out onto the field at Fitch Park in Mesa, Ariz., on Monday after coming to terms with the Chicago Cubs over the weekend, he felt right at home.

During his late father's tenure with the Cubs, Ryan Acosta was no stranger to Fitch or the Mesa community in general. His father, Oscar Acosta, was the Cubs' pitching coach from 2000-01 under then manager Don Baylor, and he was often joined at the hip by his son during the long summer months.

The elder Acosta died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic last year, and now his 18-year-old son has a chance to carry on the family name after officially signing with the Cubs on Saturday.

Acosta was selected in the 12th round of this year's First-Year Player Draft from Clearwater (Fla.) Central Catholic High School.

"I decided that it would be better for me to start off my (pro) career right now, and that's where my heart was," Acosta said when discussing his decision to sign. "I feel real comfortable with the Chicago Cubs and they're kind of like a second family. I think it's time for me to mature up and (start) my professional career instead of treating baseball like a leisure sport."

A third baseman throughout most of his prep career in Florida, Acosta got his big break at pitching when scouts first noticed him in the California Area Code Games prior to his senior season at Clearwater Central Catholic.

The right-hander features a splitfinger-fastball, changeup and slider in his self-described arsenal of pitches.

"I had my first day in Mesa (on Monday)," Acosta said. "It was my first day to actually go out. I walked into the clubhouse and out onto the field, and it brought back a lot of memories of when my dad was coaching there.

"It felt really good. It feels like a familiar territory," added Acosta.

Acosta had received a full scholarship offer from the University of Georgia in the Southeastern Conference well before signing with the Cubs.

Georgia coaches were mostly supportive of Acosta's decision, he said.

"I informed them the day that I signed. Some were a little upset, but for the most part, (Head) Coach (David) Perno and (Assistant) Coach (Doug) Sisson had pretty much backed me and wished me the best of luck," said Acosta.

Acosta expects to make his professional debut in the Arizona Rookie League some time this week. He said that his arm and body are in relatively good physical shape in spite of the layoff from the end of his prep season to now.

"My arm is fine. I just have to catch up on getting back into some of the routines," Acosta said.

To date, the Cubs have signed 30 of their 50 overall picks from the 2007 draft class. The deadline to sign recent draft picks (with the exception of college seniors) is Wednesday, August 15.

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