Houston Astros Take Bonita’s Jiovanni Mier with First Pick in Major League Draft

June 9, 2009
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Jiovanni Mier gets the word he's a Houston Astro.
Jiovanni Mier gets the word he’s a Houston Astro.

Jiovanni Mier, who wore No 3 at Bonita High School in La Verne, has a new lucky number. It’s 21, the number he went in the Major League Baseball draft on Tuesday, June 9.

The Houston Astros used its first selection to pick Mier, a five-tool shortstop who led the Bonita Bearcats to playoff appearances the past several seasons with his gifted glove, bat, arm, speed and incredible range, making plays not even duplicated at the Major League level.

Mier, represented by Newport Beach-based Legacy Sports Group, was watching the live Major League Baseball draft on a big-screen television in his living room surrounded by family, friends, former coaches and what seemed like half his north Pomona neighborhood.

The draft started at 3 p.m. with the announcement that San Diego State’s Stephen Strasbourg was the first player selected in the draft, the top pick going to the Washington Nationals. Thirteen more pitchers were selected before the Astros made Mier only the seventh position player selected.

To ease the tension, streams of pizzas, quesadillas and bowls of chili seemed to keep flying out of the Mier household kitchen with ever greater frequency.

When the Astros announcement was broadcast on national television, via the Major League Baseball channel, a thunderous roar erupted from Jio’s living room, tears of joy and relief streaming down the young ballplayer’s face.

“Before the draft began, my agent had mentioned that the Astros were going to be a big pick,” said Mier already signing baseballs for neighbor kids out on his front lawn. “From the 21st pick to the 30th, he said that was the spot to watch.”

The Mier family catches its collective breath.

The Mier family catches its collective breath.

Mier was greeted with long handshakes and heartfelt hugs that seemed to fix the moment that had been so long in coming.

“Wow, I can’t believe it,” Mier said, who in another hour would be participating on a conference call with the Astros, informing him that he would not be long for Southern California.

Jio’s father, Fausto, had looked relaxed, reserved and relatively calm throughout the late-afternoon proceedings. “This kid has worked very hard, he’s very gifted, he’s talented, but he’s very humble,” he said. “He was born to play baseball. I’m just happy for him because he was given a gift and put it where it belongs, and that’s on the baseball field.”

Even Jio’s youth baseball coach, Mike Trento, was there. “I knew Jio had an excellent opportunity if he stayed focused and continued to work hard.” Bonita coaches Mitch Newell and Dave Cates also were there to congratulate their young star. Head coach John Knott couldn’t get away because of graduation day commitments.

Jio’s mom, Lety, was overcome with emotion. For countless games, she had been that one parent you could count on to take photos and videos of the players. When her cell phone accidentally fell on the concrete sidewalk, there was no urgency to pick it up. She and Jio were had come through the long tunnel together – it was as if all the road trips, laundered uniforms, calls from scouts, and decision-making had been put on hold. Her son was now a Houston Astro.

“I’m very proud of him, I can’t even tell you,” she said. “It’s well deserved. He worked really hard.”

Bonita Coaches Mitch Newell and Dave Cates pose with their rising star.

Bonita Coaches Mitch Newell and Dave Cates pose with their rising star.

Jio, already showing a maturity and charisma well beyond his age, seemed to have time or a word for everyone who had gathered in his living room or on his porch or had spilled out onto his front lawn. Countless flashes were firing. He was patient with his paparazzi, posing with whoever requested just one more photo. Finally, he disappeared into the house to get dressed for his graduation and the grad night to follow.

No doubt he would handle the rest of the evening just as flawlessly, as if it were a ground ball hit deep into the hole at short that he would effortlessly scoop up and throw to first in one easy motion.

On his first day as a professional baseball player, Jio was once again perfect.

Astro attendance is on the rise, given Jio already has a guaranteed fan club.

Astro attendance is on the rise, given Jio already has a guaranteed fan club.


One Response to “Houston Astros Take Bonita’s Jiovanni Mier with First Pick in Major League Draft”

  1. Thanks for the useful info. It’s so interesting

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