Penn righthander Cusick walking on air as Phillies draft pick
Usually, it's a bad sign when a pitcher has sore legs after an outing. But not after this outing. Paul Cusick was a sophomore at Penn when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008. He scored tickets to the second half of Game 5 when his roommate's father's schedule couldn't accommodate the 2-day rain delay. Cusick still gets chills recalling that night.
Usually, it's a bad sign when a pitcher has sore legs after an outing. But not after this outing.
Paul Cusick was a sophomore at Penn when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008. He scored tickets to the second half of Game 5 when his roommate's father's schedule couldn't accommodate the 2-day rain delay. Cusick still gets chills recalling that night.
"Being able to see the pinnacle of baseball, the World Series, I still get goose bumps when I think about it," Cusick said. "It was a very motivating moment."
Cusick and his friends were then swept away in the impromptu wave of fans who joyously marched up Broad Street all the way to City Hall. The pandemonium and traffic crush that gripped Center City made it tough to get a cab - and made cabbies leery, too. So Cusick's walk continued back to Penn. He probably did about 15 miles that night.
"It was surreal," he said. "The legs were a little bit sore the next day, but it was awesome. It was awesome. We made it down to the parade, but being at the game when Brad Lidge struck out [Tampa Bay's Eric Hinske], it was just the most electric atmosphere I've ever seen in my life."
Fast forward 3 years and Cusick, a 6-3, 195-pound righty, has gone from giddy fan to Phillies property. Along the way, he became Penn's captain, was the Ivy League pitcher of the year this season and was selected by his favorite team in the 29th round of this year's draft. His Penn teammate, and Cherry Hill native, Vince Voiro was picked by San Diego in the 47th round.
"It's pretty surreal," Cusick said from his home in Wilmington, Del. "Growing up 20 minutes from Philadelphia, to be picked by the Phillies is like a dream come true."
A key step in Cusick's transition came last summer when he participated in a California summer league.
"He got confidence," Penn coach John Cole explained. "Mentally, he started to pitch with no fear. He started to see that he could have success with what he had. He matured and things just started to work for him. Mental maturity is what got him over the hump."
Cusick was 5-3 with a 2.70 ERA this season with Penn after going 2-4, 6.45 last year.
"That was the first experience where I was so far from home and I didn't really know anyone else on the team," Cusick said. "I was just going out there for the sole purpose of playing baseball. That was my whole focus for the summer. It's really where I realized that this is what I want to do. For the first time, I thought that I might have a shot at this if I can keep this up."
Obviously, as a 29th-round pick, he has a much longer road in front of him than that walk around Philadelphia 3 years ago. Cusick graduated in May with a degree in economics and said one of the residual benefits to getting drafted is that he's able to postpone his job search.
"I had a handful of interviews, but I was kind of shooing them off," he laughed. "What person doesn't want to play baseball instead of sitting behind a cubicle?"
The Phillies selected 20 more players yesterday, including Owen J. Roberts righthander Tim Ponto (39th round), Penn Charter second baseman Andrew Amaro (47th) and Ocean City (N.J.) righthander Kolya Stephenson (50th) . . . Amaro, a Maryland signee, is the nephew of Phillies GM Ruben Amaro . . . Stephenson can boast to being this year's Mr. Irrelevant. He was the 1,530th and final player taken in the draft . . . Germantown Academy outfielder John Barr was selected by the Indians in the 39th round . . . Villanova righthander Mike Francisco (Malvern Prep) went in the 48th round to Milwaukee . . . Assuming they sign, scouting director Marti Wolever expects top picks Larry Greene (outfielder) and Roman Quinn (shortstop) to start with the Phillies' Gulf Coast League team and third baseman Harold Martinez to go to Williamsport. The GCL club opens June 20. Williamsport debuts June 17.