The late bloomer: Jesse Foppert

The 2003 San Francisco Giants top minor league prospect is non other than 2000 Turk alum Jesse Foppert. Foppert was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the second round of the 2001 draft. It took Foppert only one short year to move his way up to Triple A ball through the Pacific Coast League. The 66, 210-pound right- hander, logged remarkable 109 strikeouts in 79 innings with the Fresno Grizzlies. He led the minor league with impressive 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings.

To have such a remarkable record in only one season is amazing but even more so is that Jesse didnt become a pitcher until his senior year at the University of San Francisco. USF head coach Nino Giarratano noticed something special about Fopperts throw from his position at third base across the diamond to first. In a discussion with Jesse and his father, Coach Giarratano, shared his opinion of what it would take for Jesse to make it in professional baseball. The idea was to turn Jesse into a pitcher.

As fate would have it, Jesse was sent to play summer ball with the Harrisonburg Turks in the Valley Baseball League in Virginia. Coach Giarratano talked to Turks owner Bob Wease about his plans for Jesse. Wease said that hed try to work it out. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College head coach, Cooper Farris, was the skipper for the Turks that summer.

After working with Jesse and seeing his talent, Coach Farris and Wease had no problems putting Foppert out on the mound. Neither ever regretted their decision. Foppert did the rest. He was put in the starting rotation and posted a 3-3 record with a 2.28 ERA, 65 strike outs in 79 innings. While being brought to play an infield position that summer, Jesses pitching performances helped the Turks win the 2000 Valley Baseball League championship.

When returning to USF in the fall, Coach Giarratano was very pleased with Fopperts summer baseball accomplishments. He was throwing 87 to 90 mph with good command.

Today Fopperts repertoire includes a fastball in the mid-90s that sometimes reaches 97 mph, a split-finger fastball, a breaking ball and a solid slider. Its a treat to watch Fopperts tall, lean form on the mound as he pitches such a beautiful smooth and effortless delivery.Foppert has joined the big league squad as a non-roster invitee to Major League camp this spring. He will be in the clubhouse with fellow Giants, Robb Nen, Kirk Reuter, and Barry Bonds. The director of player development for the Giants, Jack Hiatt, says that Foppert will benefit from working out with the majors during spring training. He is impressed with Jesses maturity, confidence and work ethics. Hiatt feels that given the opportunity to show his skills, it will be hard for the Giants to send Jesse back to Triple A.

Turks fans will anxiously be watching as Jesse Foppert makes his place in the San Francisco Giants organization. We thank him for gracing the mound at Veterans Memorial Stadium that wonderful summer of 2000 when he helped lead the Turks to the championship. Jesse is definitely a champion himself!