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DeMatha Grad Went from Sandlots to The Show

Pitcher Brett Cecil honed his craft in Bowie, Hyattsville and College Park on the way to the Major Leagues.

DeMatha Grad Went from Sandlots to The Show

As a young boy, Brett Cecil and his father would make the drive from Calvert County to Bowie, where Brett would play baseball at White Marsh Park.

A few years later Cecil enrolled at DeMatha Catholic High in Hyattsville, and eventually caught the eye of college scouts.

After graduation he moved up Rt. 1 to College Park, where Cecil became one of the top pitchers for the UMd. Terps, attracting the eye of scouts once more -- this time, for the pros.

All three of those stops in Prince George's County helped prepare Cecil for May 2009, when the left-handed pitcher made his big league debut with the Toronto Blue Jays of the American League.

"It is funny. I drove from Baltimore Washington Airport to my parents' house during the 2010 season and we passed right past White Marsh Park in Bowie," Cecil said. "That was the first place I played Babe Ruth and youth baseball. I played with some of those guys up through high school."

Cecil realized when he was at DeMatha that he had a chance to play at a higher level. One of is teammates was good friend Robbie Campbell.

"The first time I ever thought about going further was my junior year in high school," Cecil said. "My coach told my dad that I needed to start and look for colleges. He said I needed to look out because scouts will come. Sure enough they did. I was baffled. I couldn't believe it."

Cecil was drafted in the first round out of UMd. by the Blue Jays in 2007. He worked his way up to the minor leagues and in 2009, he was 7-4 in 17 starts for Toronto and last year he was 15-7 in 172 innings for Toronto.

"It is a good feeling. Like I said, it is a good feeling to make it this far," he said. "A lot of guys will try their whole life and never get to where I am and here I am and it is a blessing, obviously."

Cecil began playing when he was around 8-years-old. When he was 12, he was a pitcher and first baseman. In Bowie he played for Mark Palumbo. Mark's nephew is Jeff Palumbo, who was a standout at George Mason University and is now an assistant coach at the University of Central Florida.

"I started throwing (as a pitcher) when I was 13," Cecil said. "Jeff Palumbo was showing us how. He made us get on one knee and throw it over the top. It is like pulling down a shade."

So what was Cecil's big league debut like?

"I was in Triple-A for the first month (in 2009) and I got called in May," he said. "My knees were just shaking. It was unbelievable. I just wanted to get that first pitch out of the way. It was a ball. I struck my first batter out, which was pretty cool. My first batter was Grady Sizemore of the Cleveland Indians. I got a 3-2 count and a slider was called strike three. That was my best memory of that game."

Cecil began this season with Toronto and after throwing in four games was sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas to work on some things in a less stressful atmosphere. He pitched his second game with Las Vegas on May 1 and picked up a win against Sacramento in the Pacific Coast League.

Pitcher Kevin Hart, a former Oriole minor leaguer, also played at UMd.  and pitched for Pittsburgh during the 2009 season. Former Terp Justin Maxwell played for Washingon last season and was traded to the Yankees before this season. Pitcher Eric Milton, another former Terp, pitched in the big leagues from 1998 to 2009 with several teams.

The Blue Jays hope Cecil can help them later in the season. "He has the ability to spot his cutter and slider. He is not afraid to throw any of his pitches," said catcher John Buck, who played for Toronto last season and is now with Florida.

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