By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
17-year-old Ryan Acosta may be on the verge of fame and fortune with the Chicago Cubs, but Wednesday evening, he chose to spend time with some excited Portales Little Leaguers.
The former Portales Ram was drafted in the 12th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Cubs in early June, and paid a visit to the postseason party held by the 11-12 year old Roosevelt County All-Star players at Rotary Park.
“This is where I first starting playing baseball,” Acosta said. “Coming back and seeing where I came from and what it took to get where I’m at — anybody can do it. Not everybody has the opportunity, but everybody can do it.”
Acosta was brought up in Elida and played his freshman year at Portales, before moving to Florida, where he played the remainder of his high school career at Clearwater Central Catholic.
Ryan’s dad, Oscar Acosta played several years in professional baseball, and was a pitching coach for the Cubs and Rangers. He was managing the Gulf Coast Yankees when he died in a car accident in April of 2006.
“With coming from a small town like Elida, and then moving to Portales — I thought that was big. And then moving from Portales to Florida — I thought that was huge. I had to go through a lot of stuff to get where I wanted to be and it does take a lot of hard work and sacrifices in order to achieve a goal.”
Roosevelt County Little League coach Donny Martinez explained why it’s important to celebrate Acosta’s success.
“It’s a great motivation for them,” Martinez said. “Because you’ve got a hometown boy with some talent and I think there’s a lot more talent in this town. They can see that coming out of this town, that as long as they have talent, and they keep working hard, it can happen for them too. It happens here in Portales too.”
Acosta’s visit also meant something special to 9-year-old Peyton Chavez.
“It’s cool to have a pro player sign a ball for me and the back of my shirt,” Chavez said. “I think that If you really try hard and you have a lot of heart you can do anything you want to.”
Following the draft, Acosta has received a contract from the Cubs, but he is currently waiting on approval from the commissioner’s office to sign it. He’ll be participating in a fall league in Arizona at the end of the month.
“I’m just enjoying the time before I take off for Arizona,” Acosta said. “(The Cubs) keep contacting me to make sure I’m staying healthy and doing the proper things to be strong and take care of my body. They just tell me to keep at it, and they give me the information on what I need to be doing.”