As Derrick Goold reported earlier, 30 different draft picks were signed as of Monday, including 6th round pick Eric Fornataro. Eric has been somewhat of a mystery man around these parts; I wasn’t able to find much out much about him through the usual googling at first, other than his numbers. Recently, one of you were able to find Fornataro’s scouting report at PGCrosschecker—
Fornataro barely registered among area scouts a year ago at Pensacola (Fla.) JC, where he went 1-2, 5.89 in just 18 innings of work. But he became one of the hottest junior college arms in the country this spring after his transfer to Miami-Dade. Though he suffered his team’s only loss as Miami-Dade raced out to a 25-1 record, Fornataro clearly was the pitcher scouts targeted on a deep and talented staff and he continued to move up draft boards through the spring. He was 7-2, 2.87 with 26 walks and 77 strikeouts in 78 innings as Miami-Dade, the second-ranked team in Florida, entered state tournament play. Fornataro has smooth mechanics with a clean arm action and throws everything with ease. His stuff includes a heavy fastball in the 90-93 mph range, touching 94, along with a solid changeup and a developing slider. He maintains his arm speed well and gets good deception on his changeup, which has late, tumbling action. Though he is around the plate with all his pitches, he lacks consistent command of his slider. He also has a tendency of pitching backwards, leading with his changeup in fastball counts.
For what it’s worth, Miami-Dade has to be one of college baseball’s best kept secrets in terms of producing big leaguers. It’s a veritable baseball factory. Notables include Steve Carlton, Mickey Rivers, Alex Fernandez, Bucky Dent, Placido Polanco, Raul Ibanez, Orlando Palmerio, Kiko Calero, Alex Sanchez, John Cangelosi, Jaime Navarro and others…57 big leaguers total, more than any college or university other than Southern Cal.
Anyway, taking it a step further in our quest to get more info on Eric Fornataro, I was able to catch up with the man himself, who was kind enough to do a little Q and A over email.
First of all, congratulations on being drafted. Did you have any expectations on draft day?
I expected to be drafted in either the 3rd or 4th round. That’s what I was told by my agent.
When and how did you find out you were drafted?
My agent texted me, then my dad called me immediately after that and told me. I wasn’t watching the draft at that time.
Outside of the Cardinals, how many other teams showed an interest in you?
Actually, all 30 showed interest and spoke with me throughout the season.
How did you end up at Miami-Dade CC, and how was your experience there?
The experience there was great. I love Miami; it’s close to the beach! The coaches were the best I have ever had. And the team was very talented overall. I also met my girlfriend there; she goes to the University of Miami. I ended up at MDC after the coach (Bill Hamilton) from Pensacola Junior College, where I played last year, told me I wasn’t good enough to play baseball in their college system in FL, and he didn’t offer me a scholarship back for the following year. So I had nowhere to go to school heading into the summer.
Wow. Talk about a mistake. Do you have a current commitment to a D1 program at this time, and if so, what school?
I did not sign with any school, but the U of Miami, U of Florida, Oklahoma and Texas A & M were all talking to me. I knew I was going to get drafted, so there was no reason to sign with a school. I wanted to go to UM mostly, and they were going to offer me a scholarship after the draft if I didn’t want to take the signing offer from the major league team that drafted me. But I did end up taking the money.
Tell me a little bit about your repertoire. What do you throw, and what do you feel is your best pitch?
My fastball is my best pitch, and I throw it at 91-95 mph. I also have a slider that comes in 80-83, a change up at 77-79, and a curve 73-76.
Is there a MLB pitcher you would compare yourself to, or someone you grew up looking up to?
Who in your life has had the most influence on your baseball career?
I’d have to say my parents, because they always encouraged me to play all sorts of sports when I was younger. Baseball just fell into place for me.
Was there a moment in your baseball career when you came to the realization that you could play professionally?
I was always told I could by a lot of different people, but it never came to my realization ‘til my year at MDC.
What do you like to do with your spare time?
I like old cars, big Chevy engines…Camaros and Corvettes. And of course I like the usual stuff- just hanging out with my friends, going out to eat, watching movies and so on.