In recent years, some of baseball’s best pitchers are the biggest players on the field.
Future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, a former New York Yankees hurler, stood 6 feet, 10 inches tall, making him one of the tallest players in baseball history.
Injured Mets ace Matt Harvey stands 6 feet, 4 inches himself and weighs 215 pounds.
High School for Construction, Trades, Engineering and Architecture star Aaron Ammirati stands just 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs only 140 pounds, but the 17-year-old Lindenwood native is in the midst of proving his worth as one of the best high school pitchers in Queens.
After a successful junior season in which he went 6-0 and pitched to a stellar 1.00 earned run average, Ammirati will travel to Chicago next week as a member of the city’s Public School Athletic League all-star team, where they will take on their high school counterparts from the Windy City in a two-game series.
Ammirati said he could barely contain his excitement when he learned of his selection.
“The PSAL baseball commissioner told me in the middle of the season that if I kept it up, I’d be on the team,” Ammirati, one of just three Queens players chosen for the squad, said. “On the last day of school, I was sitting in U.S. history when I randomly got a text from [PSAL official] Dwayne Burnett. I read the message that said I was on the team and I got very excited. I ran around the class, I was so happy.”
On July 11, the first game of the series will be played at U.S. Cellular Field, the home of the Chicago White Sox.
On July 12, the series moves to the University of Illinois-Chicago, where the two teams will battle under the lights at the newly constructed Curtis Granderson Stadium, named for the current Mets and former Yankees outfielder, a UIC alumni, who funded the ballpark’s construction.
Ammirati’s fastball velocity may only sit around 83 miles per hour, a far cry from White Sox star pitcher Chris Sale’s high-90s heater, but the Queens hurler is thrilled to simply be throwing from the same rubber as the All-Star.
“It’s going to be insane knowing I’ll be on the same pitching mound that Chris Sale pitches on,” he said. “It’s an honor very few people get to have. It’s a blessing.”
Ammirati’s father, Michael, a former scout for the Mets and Mariners, said his son’s dominance over opposing hitters despite his size gives him just as much pleasure as it does Aaron.
“He’s been playing travel baseball since he was 7 years old. He was always the smallest kid on the field,” the elder Ammirati said. “What I always get a kick out of as a dad is seeing other coaches pull their hair out, wondering how this little kid is beating them.”
In addition to the Chicago trip, Ammirati will also partake in showcases to display his skills for college coaches, as well as play in summer league games in North Carolina and Virginia against collegiate players.
Ammirati hopes his busy summer will help him and his team go deep into the city playoffs in his senior campaign.
In May, CTEA was knocked out in the first round of the city playoffs by underdog New Dorp High School of Staten Island and highly touted pitcher Justin Pedone, who consistently tops 90 miles per hour with his fastball.
Going into next season, his last as a high schooler, Ammirati’s mindset is simple. It’s championship or bust.
“We should have made it to the city championship last year,” he said. “For my last game to be at Yankee Stadium, winning a city title, that would be insane.”