Used with permission from the Lowell Sun Online.
By DAVID PEVEAR
LOWELL -- All he wanted was a chance to show some big league organization that the so-called tools don't always make the baseball player.
Thursday, Jon Cahill, not the swiftest or strongest but a sheer baseball player, got his fighting chance.
The player most responsible for UMass Lowell's recent historic first trip to the NCAA Division 2 National Championship tournament was signed by Anaheim Angels scout Guy Mader of Tewksbury following a morning tryout at Alumni Field.
"We needed a shortstop in Utah and I'd known about Cahill since he was at Peabody High," said Mader, the Angels' East Coast scouting supervisor. "He could be a sleeper. He was overlooked maybe because of his age (23). But he has good baseball instincts, and that's what you need to play this game. I've seen guys like him make it to the big leagues. You can have all these guys with great tools, but you need instincts to play this game."
Cahill headed out this morning for Provo, Utah, and the Rookie Pioneer League. Mader also signed pitcher Cliff Smith of Haverhill and Brandeis University for the Provo Angels following Thursday's workout at Alumni.
UMass Lowell right-hander Nate Linstad of Chelmsford also attended the workout but was not signed. Linstad is considering independent league options, according to UMass Lowell coach Jim Stone.
Mader expects Cahill will be the starting shortstop for Provo, which opens its 76-game season tomorrow against the Ogden Raptors at Larry Miller Field on the campus of Brigham Young University
Cahill tried to act like a professional when Mader offered him a contract. It was hard suppressing the little boy in him.
"I wanted to jump up and down," said Cahill. "But I knew that wouldn't have been the right thing to do. So I just told him, Thank you.' But in my head I was very happy."
"Jon's pumped up," said Stone. "He called his dad (Ed) to tell him he was leaving for Provo in the morning and his dad wouldn't believe him. Jon had to hand the phone to (UMass Lowell assistant) Mike Fahy so he could tell him."
Cahill, a Division 2 first-team All-American called "Superman" by his UMass Lowell teammates, was not selected in the First-Year Player Draft last week. He was considered a step slow for shortstop, without enough power to be moved to third or first base, and a few miles-per-hour short of being a pitching prospect.
Cahill's footwork and arm strength passed Mader's inspection.
"I'll feel a lot more comfortable playing shortstop than if I had to move to the right side (of the infield)," said Cahill. "But I wouldn't have complained."
Cahill was playing for the Lowell Braves in the Intercity League, but remained optimistic he would play professionally somewhere this summer. He visited the Nashua Pride on Wednesday and "(manager) Butch Hobson promised me a job pretty soon."
North Florida coach Dusty Rhodes, who saw Cahill play at the NCAA Championship, also put in a good word on his behalf with the independent Frontier and Northern Leagues.