Tewksbury High Alum Scott Oberg Drafted By Colorado Rockies
Former Redmen, UConn star pitcher overcomes arthritis, 'Tommy John' surgery to achieve a lifelong dream.
Former Tewksbury High star pitcher Scott Oberg will have the chance to live out his dream of playing professional baseball after being selected in the Major League Baseball Free Agent Draft on Tuesday by the Colorado Rockies.
Oberg, who played three seasons for the UConn Huskies, was taken in the 15th round, 468th overall.
"This is definitely something I've been working for my whole life, " said Odberg, the son of Teresa and Royd Odberg.
According to Tewksbury High coach Ron Drouin, Oberg may be the first Redmen ever selected in the MLB Draft.
"He's the first player to be drafted in my 19 years," said Drouin. "It's something very special for Scott."
Oberg was in town on Wednesday to visit with family, friends and former teachers. His first stop was the Ryan School, where he met with Drouin.
"As good of a ballplayer as the Rockies have drafted, he's an ever better person," said Drouin. "He is as fine of a human being as we've ever had in this program. This is a case of good things happening to good people."
Once he officially signs with the Rockies, Oberg's first stop in his professional career will likely be Pasco, Wash., playing for the Tri-City Dust Devils. The Dust Devils are the equivalent of the Lowell Spinners and play in the short-season A Northwest League.
The road to the pros has not been easy for the 22-year-old Oberg. He had a stellar career for Tewksbury High, being named Division 2 MVP of the Merrimack Valley Conference twice. He had a career record of 14-3 with the Redmen, to go along with a a 1.32 ERA and 136 strikeouts.
That earned the 6-2, 200-pound right-hander a scholarship to UConn, one of the most successful baseball programs in the Big East Conference. Transitioning successfully from a starter in high school to a college reliever, Oberg had strong freshman and sophomore seasons for the Huskies, posting ERA's of less than 2.00 each year.
But in the summer of 2010, following his sophomore season, Oberg began having significant health issues. First, after experiencing pain in his feet, he was diagnosed with arthritis. That sidelined him for the fall baseball season and he wasn't able to get relief until being prescribed the proper medication in December.
As the pain subsided he was able to start throwing again. But in February, just prior to the team's trip to Texas, he was throwing a live batting practice session and felt something wrong with his elbow.
"I felt some tightness in the elbow, more than I'd ever felt," said Oberg.
An MRI showed a clean tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). The injury required reconstructive surgery on his elbow, known more commonly in baseball as "Tommy John" surgery.
The surgery sidelined Oberg for the entire 2011 season but he wasn't discouraged, having seen other UConn pitchers recover from the same surgery to successfully resume their careers.
"Fortunately, or unfortunately I guess, two other pitchers on the team had had the same surgery, so I was really able to lean on them," said Oberg. "I was able to see the success they were having (rehabbing) right in front of my eyes."
The road back was long and not without bumps. His first outing on the team's spring trip to Florida was against Ohio State. Oberg admits it was a disaster.
"I was definitely nervous," he said. "I think it was the worst outing of my life. I walked five or six guys, only got two outs and gave up four runs."
But the setback was temporary. Oberg was able to overcome the nervousnes and regain his form, his confidence and his velocity (91-94 MPH fastball).
He became a "lights out" closer for the Huskies, with a 5-0 record, 9 saves and a staggering 0.99 ERA. Opponents hit a paltry .154 against him, and he gave up just one extra-base hit (a double) all season. And after that first outing, his control was exceptional, as he struck out 36 and walked only 13 in 36.1 innings of work.
That was good enough for Oberg to be named First Team All-Big East. He was also the first UConn pitcher to post an ERA under 1.00 since 1976.