Adrian Nieto Crosses Oceans & Baseball Barriers
Karl's TV & Appliance Athlete of the Week
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Playing independent baseball certainly seems a long way from the major leagues.
Adrian Nieto keeps it in perspective.
“At the end of the day this is still an opportunity to play baseball. So don’t take it for granted. Don’t view it as like ‘ah, I’m playing Indy ball’. Just take pride, still be professional.” Nieto says.
25 years ago in his native Cuba, his dad taught him how precious opportunity is.
“(My dad was guilty of) spilling cooking oil on the street. And for that they were going to give him six years in prison. I actually remember going with my dad to patch up holes in the boat, that’s how old it was. And at the time I didn’t know, I thought they were just prepping it up. I was told by my parents we were just going on a boat trip.” Adrian says.
Fleeing the country at the age of four, Nieto’s boat began taking on water 13 hours into the trip.
“At that age I didn’t know how to swim. My mom didn’t know how to swim at all. Once we saw the Coast Guard down on the coastline we just thanked God for rescuing us.” Nieto says.
His journey was far from over.
“After that it turned into six months and six days in Guantonimo Bay. I ended up getting a rash on my arm and my mom filed some paperwork to leave and get it treated (in the United States). When I came over here everybody thought I was older than what I was because I carried myself and acted as an older kid. But that was just the environment that I was around.” Adrian says.
Nieto became a top prospect in Florida, eventually being drafted in the 5th round, and ascending from A Ball to the Majors with the Chicago White Sox at the age of 24. Though he played 48 games in 2014, Nieto returned to the minors.
“While living it I kind of lost perspective of the jump that I made. There’s things that I feel like I do now better than I did at 24.” Nieto says.
Adrian came to the Canaries this year and quickly became a leader on the field with his team high 24 RBI, and off it with his relentless work ethic.
“So he does some things a little bit different than a lot of guys do, but he knows what it is that he needs to do to prepare day in and day out. I think it’s been big for us learning from him and talking with him.” Canaries Manager Mike Meyer says.
It paid off 32 games into the season with a contract in the Miami Marlins organization. Adrian knows it’s no guarantee, yet after all he’s been through….
“My parents always tell me, when times get tough, don’t forget that you crossed the ocean. Anything else after that, it’s not going to be harder than.” Nieto says.
….the long road to the majors doesn’t seem that daunting.