Sam Steidl -- Bidding for Some Recognition

The Big Ten in baseball compared to the Big Ten in football is like starring in a local amateur production to being a contestant on television's "American Idol". On one hand you're likely to have mom, dad and Uncle Ed see you while on the other, millions watch and millions of dollars await if you do well.

Consider Sam Steidl. He was All-Conference for all four of his years at the University of Minnesota. As a junior, he led the league in hits. As a senior, he topped the conference in doubles, runs scored, and was second in hits and stolen bases. He collected over 300 hits for those years making him only the second player in the school's history to achieve that distinction.

An NFL first-rounder for sure, if he performs comparatively on the gridiron. An agent, a fat contract and his name mentioned on TV and in all the papers. But this is baseball in the Big Ten, man. Why, the University of Wisconsin doesn't even bother to field a team. So, Sam's extremely productive time didn't earn him all that much recognition or attract all that many scouts. The Dodgers' Tim Kelly did notice, though, so the club did choose him in the 2004 draft but only in the 12th round.

His pro career hardly got off to an auspicious start either for he suffered a hand injury that kept him sidelined for most of the summer. He finally managed to get some time in the Gulf Coast League where he hit only .129 in 11 games. The Gulf Coast League where mom, dad and Uncle Ed would constitute a huge crowd.

The Dodgers hope is that Sam's a much better hitter than that. He has the reputation of being a line-drive hitter with a quick bat, who won't provide much power but who can get on and go. This season he's been the leadoff man for Columbus where he was offstride at the beginning. It's nice to report that he's been coming on well lately. Not a big breakout, you understand, rather a steady climb that has his average up to .234.

He's tough to strike out, having walked 21 times while fanning just 17. He'll do some running although the Catfish, sadly, have been behind so much that he's had few opportunities. He's tried only two stolen bases and made it both times.

Steidl observed his 24th birthday on May 9 so that makes him one of the older guys on the team. So far, the word is to be patient, there's some talent there and all these losing ways will finally turn around. So, Sam, like his teammates, goes out there every evening, seeking to find a way to end the woes that have beset them.

Not too many people watch when the Fish are home. Hey, Sam's used to that. He's also used to doing some productive hitting and that he's planning on showing those who care. That way, he can finally get to play in front of some crowds who'll notice that he can be a useful player.