Jan. 28, 2009
Rome, Ga. - Since being drafted in 2007 by the Baltimore Orioles in the 25th round, former Shorter College baseball ace Cliff Flagello has been anything but quiet.
The 5-foot-10 right-hander posted a 2.29 earned run average in relief at Class A Delmarva in his first full season last year - including a 1.07 mark after the All-Star break - and limited Sally League batters to an impressive .185 average. Following the end of the season, he received the prestigious Orioles' Elrod Hendricks Minor League Community Service Award.
"It was a good year for me, in terms of development and performance," said Flagello. "The community award is something that anyone would be excited to receive. Coach [Matt] Larry (Shorter's head baseball coach) was always adamant about getting players involved in the community and playing under him has instilled those beliefs in me."
In September, Flagello was sent to the island state of Hawaii for two months for Hawaii's Winter League, where he pitched for the West Oahu Canefires.
"It was a good learning experience, and I met a lot of really good players," added Flagello. "I saw some of the toughest competition I've faced to this day - including five 1st-round picks."
Once the Hawaii league was over, Flagello received a call from Tripp Norton, the Orioles Assistant Director of Minor League Operations, about a spot on the 45-man provisional roster on Team Italy, part of the World Baseball Classic. He will fly to Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Feb. 14th for try-outs to make the cut on the slimmed-down 28-man roster.
"It's exciting - anytime you're potentially representing a country, there's a sense of pride that comes along with it," said Flagello. "My heritage is Italian and there was a process involving placement on the team, which included producing my great-grandparents legalization papers, and some birth records."
After leaving Hawaii at the end of November, Flagello returned to Rome where he has been preparing for spring training and his trip to Florida, working with Shorter's baseball team.
"He has really influenced the younger guys here," said Larry. "He understands the mental aspects of the game, as well as the physical ability and technique it takes to be a good pitcher. Since working in the minors, he has become a much stronger pitcher - older and more mature with his talent - and his pro experience has really helped him with that."
Flagello came to Shorter during the 2004-05 season after transferring from Georgia State University. During his career at Shorter, he was instrumental for the Hawks in their attempts at the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) title. In the 2006-07 season, Flagello was 8-5 with a 2.87 ERA, striking out 97 batters in 87.2 innings, limiting batters to a .205 batting average. He was named First Team All-Conference, SSAC All-Academic, and a National Scholar-Athlete. On June 8, 2007, he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles.
He graduated from Armuchee High School in Armuchee, Ga., in 2003. In his senior year, he went 8-4 with four saves and currently holds the all-time school record for most strikeouts in a season (120).