NOT many 16 year olds can lay claim to receiving a Facebook friend request from a Major League Baseball player.
Port Adelaide’s Jack O’Loughlin can after Detroit Tigers pitcher and Perth-native Warwick Saupold contacted him on social media within hours of the teenager signing for the MLB organisation.
“He sent me a friend request and then a message just congratulating me on being picked up,” says O’Loughlin, who has been recruited by the Tigers as an international free agent.
“It was a bit of a shock.
“He’s been there for a few years now and is doing well.”
Detroit boasts the likes of two-time American League MVP Miguel Cabrera and ace pitchers Justin Verlander and Jordan Zimmermann. O’Loughlin hopes to join them one day.
“There’s some guys in that team that will become legends of the game,” the left-handed pitcher says. “I can see myself out on (Detroit’s) Comerica Park pitching.
“I’m moving on from one stage of my career and now trying to make the big leagues and hopefully play for Detroit.”
O’Loughlin will finish Year 12 at Seaton High next year before moving to the US permanently in 2018.
In the meantime, he will continue to play at Port Adelaide and work on his game.
“For my age, I’ve got pretty good velocity and pretty good command over my pitches, which allows me to get the job done,” he says.
O’Loughlin, who has played baseball since he was four, attracted the attention of Tigers scout Kevin Hooker at this year’s MLB Australian Academy on the Gold Coast.
“I had a feeling I was going to get an offer,” O’Loughlin, of Paralowie, says.
“I had an idea scouts were interested and watching me.
“Playing MLB wasn’t always a dream of mine but in my third year of under-14s people started to come out and talk to us and I started to realise it was achievable.”
O’Loughlin is one step closer to becoming SA’s fourth player to make the big leagues. Mark Hutton, Shayne Bennett and Luke Prokopec all played MLB.
This article originally appeared in the Portside Messenger on August 3, 2016.