Skyline graduate making major moves in Orioles’ minor leagues

August 10, 2010

By Christopher Huber

Brad Decater, a 2007 Skyline High School graduate, plays third base for the Bluefield (W.Va.) Orioles, an advanced-rookie minor-league team in the Appalachian League, after being drafted in June by the Baltimore Orioles. Contributed

When Brad Decater was drafted in the 43rd round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, he wasn’t sure about playing full-time pro ball, he said. He had earned an associate degree from Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, Calif., but said he wanted to continue with school for at least another year.

He played one season with the Matadors of Cal State Northridge this year and had been told he would likely be drafted again, he said. By the end of the season, his scout had not called in about a month, though.

But in June, his scout called while Decater was painting a house near Sammamish with his brother: The Orioles had picked him again, in the 36th round of the 2010 baseball draft. This time was different, said Decater, a 2007 Skyline High School graduate.

“This time, I’m ready to go,” he said.

Decater now plays third base for the Bluefield, W.Va., Orioles, an advanced-rookie minor-league team in the Appalachian League.

“It was definitely a surprise,” he said of being drafted again. But “I pretty much play baseball every day. It’s a pretty nice job.”

In 16 games as a paid professional with Bluefield, Decater has managed a .241 batting average (13-for-54) with four doubles and four RBIs. He’s got the fourth-best average, slugging percentage (.315) and on-base percentage (.305) on the team. As a third-baseman, he’s maintained a .903 fielding percentage, according to the Bluefield team website.

Decater has played baseball since age 4, but his journey to the minor leagues really began, he said, mid-way through high school. He didn’t make Skyline varsity until his junior year. He had upped his commitment to working out and practicing longer, impressing the Spartan coaches with his skill at shortstop.

“I kinda worked my way up all the way through,” he said.

It didn’t hit him that he could have a future in baseball until the summer of 2007, playing his final season with the Lakeside Recovery American Legion team.

“He was a great kid to coach,” said Chris Tammenin, head baseball coach at Skyline. “He was a kid that I liked to get dirty. He was just a player.”

Tammenin remembered Decater’s relatively quick bat speed and lead-by-example attitude.

“He was definitely a team leader by the way he played,” Tammenin said. “He played the game the right way.”

Decater’s game only got better while playing for Bob Miller at Cuesta College in 2008 and 2009. During those seasons, Decater, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-hander, averaged .326 at the plate and had 105 hits, 88 RBIs, 28 doubles and nine home runs in 83 games. Cuesta won the league championship both seasons.

“He’s got very good athleticism as an overall. Very good bat speed at the plate. A little more power than the average player,” Miller said. “He hit the best pitching that we came across.”

Miller described Decater as a dedicated competitor who filled his position at third well. He wasn’t surprised when he heard Decater got drafted.

“His mental game is very good too, consistent and even-keeled with his approach. He came to play every day,” Miller said. “He’s got a quiet confidence. Not shy, but he’s got an aura about him on the field where he displays confidence, and that spread to our team.”

Decater said some of his knack for baseball came from his family — both brothers, Kyle and Derek, played Division I college baseball and his father Jim had taught him growing up.

“I was athletic in high school, but at Cuesta, I learned a really, really lot about defense,” he said.

But Brad Decater also just loves the game, so he kept at it. The thought of being as good as or better than his brothers provided that drive to work hard. Just one year apart, Kyle and Brad played ball together every day for years, Brad Decater said.

“I had to work hard if wanted to beat them,” he said.

As for what he looks forward to now that he’s a professional, he said he just feels fortunate to get to get up and play baseball every day.

“The competition is fun. I want to do as well as I can, enjoy it while I’m here,” he said. “I think it’s pretty cool. It’s strange that it’s me. Having the ability in the first place paid off for me.”

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