Poreda is on everyone’s radar 

As Aaron Poreda walked off the mound after silencing 8,000 Nebraska fans in last year’s NCAA regional, he realized he was leaving his baseball anonymity behind.

Somehow, USF’s 6-foot-6 left-handed pitcher had managed to go through his prep career in Moraga and first two years as a Don relatively unknown outside the Bay Area, despite consistently solid numbers.

But after dominating the No. 6 national seed for 6²/³ innings in an elimination-game win (he allowed just one run and struck out five, delivering the first NCAA victory in program history), the secret was out.

Suddenly, Poreda is being talked about as a potential first-round pick in this year’s draft, and was named to the preseason watch list for the BrooksWallace and Roger Clemens awards.

"[The Nebraska game] was definitely the biggest start of my career and last year in general was a huge steppingstone for me," Poreda said. "I’ve always kind of been one of those under-the-radar, underdog guys. Now I feel like the baseball world knows about me."

Poreda makes an unlikely underdog, considering his frame (a muscular 240 pounds), fastball (consistently in the mid-90s) and control (he can also locate a slider and changeup for strikes). He was USF’s No. 2 starter as a sophomore last year behind Scott Cousins (now in the minors with the Florida Marlins) and went 8-5 with a 2.49 ERA and 75 strikeouts.

He had a nearly flawless debut in his first start of 2007, allowing no runs, no walks and just one hit in five innings as USF won its season opener 6-2 at Fresno State last week. And as Poreda gets set to take the mound today as USF (2-2) plays at 2 p.m. at Sacramento State, it is clear he has already earned the confidence of his teammates.

"We talk a lot about ‘The Friday Factor,’ where we try to set the tone and put the other team on the defensive in the first game of a series," USF closer John Quine said. "And you know you’re going to get that from the big lefty."

For Poreda, being the Dons’ ace means more than just performing on the mound every Friday. He has eagerly embraced his new role as the leader of a staff that also includes talented starters Matt Baugh (a transfer from Arizona) and Tommy Peale, who went 16-0 and was California’s 2006 Junior College Player of the Year at Long Beach Community College.

"I like that responsibility," Poreda said. "I want the other pitchers to be able to see me working and follow it as an example."

His training this offseason allowed him to bump up a fastball that previously topped out at 91 mph up to the 94-96 range, just one of the reasons USF coach Nino Giarratano expects Poreda to be one of the most sought-after left-handed pitchers in the country by the end of the season.

"Aaron’s matured each year and we expect great things out of him," Giarratano said. "With him at the front, I’m really ecstatic about our pitching this year."


USF (2-2) vs. SACRAMENTO ST. (0-4)

WHEN: Today, 2 p.m.; Saturday, 1 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m.

WHERE: Today and Saturday, Hornet Field, Sacramento; Sunday, College of San Mateo


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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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