Pitcher Mike Foltynewicz of the Greeneville Astros works out prior to a game against the Bluefield Orioles on July 18, 2010, at Pioneer Field in Greeneville, Tenn. Photo by: Tom Priddy/Four Seam Images
You may not have heard the name Mike Foltynewicz, but the Houston Astros picked him as their No. 1 draft pick for 2010, and they’re hoping you’ll hear the name someday soon in the Houston lineup.
I certainly knew who he was when I drove up to the Greeneville Astros’ ball park in Tennessee last July to shoot one of his team’s rookie Appalachian League games.
I only had one day in Greeneville, and like every other Minor League photographer I had a list of top draft picks and I wanted those shots more than any others.
But pitchers like Foltynewicz are the toughest assignments. They pitch once every four or five days in the minors and sometimes spend an entire day never picking up a ball or glove. This would be one of those no-throw days.
But I had to get a shot, any shot. And I just don’t like making posed photos. So I followed him around as he did his pre-game workout with arm exercises and a medicine-ball toss. All fun behind-the-scenes stuff that I love seeing and shooting — but no baseball-card-worthy shots. So I gave up and went on to photograph as many of the other players as possible.
Later, when he emerged from the clubhouse right before the game in his home uniform, I still had some hope that I might get my shot. Those hopes faded away when he drew the evening’s autograph-table assignment. A dull photo if there ever was one. This would be a scratch. Sitting at a table near the gate and signing his name . . . I knew the other guys in my agency would be luckier (and smarter) than me and would get him on a pitching night.
But I don’t give up easily, and I lurked by the autograph table and waited until someone said something funny and he cracked the only smile I saw on his face all night. (Lots of pressure being a No 1 pick.) I got one shot. But I knew I didn’t have a chance at an image anyone would publish.
So you can imagine my delight yesterday when I scoured the latest batch of Bowman 2010 Draft Picks and Prospects cards . . . and saw my Foltynewicz autograph-table shot.
Sweet. Very sweet.