06/17/2016 9:17 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 17, 2016 – Since the Northwest Indiana Oilmen were founded in 2012, numerous players have put on an Oilmen uniform.
None have been quite like right-handed pitcher Enrique Zamora.
Easily the most popular player to ever perform for the Oilmen, it comes as no surprise that the 2015 Oilmen ace has been flooded with support since being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 37th round of the Major League Baseball Draft last Saturday.
It’s been a whirlwind week for Zamora, who has flown to Arizona to report to the Dodgers Spring Training home for workouts and evaluations.
“It was relieving, because it was getting pretty late in the draft,” Zamora said on Sunday. “It got to the point where I was thinking about what I would do if it didn’t happen, whether I would use my fifth year of school.”
Draft day provided Zamora with a story he’ll tell for years to come. He was preparing for a game with Wisconsin Rapid Rafters of the Northwoods League when his phone ran out of battery during the draft. It was the 39th round by the time he received word that he had been selected in Round 37.
“All of my teammates were running around looking for me because I went to put my phone on the charger,” Zamora said. “One they found me, all of my teammates were like, ‘There he is.’ I was like, ‘What’s going on?’”
That’s when Zamora learned the news that he had achieved the dream of every child who loves the game of baseball.
“I didn’t believe it at first, because it’s surreal,” he said. “It’s my dream to get this opportunity to play the game I love. It’s a job now. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Zamora attracted dozens of supporters, friends and family members to each of his starts at Oil City Stadium last summer. He established the Oilmen single-season strikeout record by fanning 55 to go along with a 1.86 ERA, 4-2 record and two saves in 49 innings over 11 games.
“Last summer, I was glad I was able to get my off-speed for strikes,” Zamora said. “That was a big thing I was able to work on. Being able to throw a pitch other than a fastball for a strike keeps hitters off balance.”
That success continued at Calumet College in the spring, where the Clark High School graduate ranked second in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference in ERA at 1.90 and led the league in strikeouts with 125 in 80 1/3 innings. He won the league’s Pitcher of the Year Award.
“In the spring, the biggest step was gaining confidence in my pitches,” he said. “I was finally able to throw a good changeup this year. I’ve never actually had a changeup until last spring. Getting the changeup going and getting confidence in every one of my pitches was a really big step.”
While most of the area’s drafted players come from prep program’s like Andrean and Munster and large, Division-I colleges, Zamora’s road to reach this point was a little different. He attended small Hammond Clark High School before playing collegiately at NAIA Calumet College in Whiting.
Oilmen manager Adam Enright was the beneficiary of Zamora’s dominance last summer, and then was on the other end this spring as he coached for Calumet College’s CCAC foe Trinity Christian.
“The thing that really sticks out to me was seeing him pitch in the spring in much better shape with much better command of all of his pitches,” Enright said. “Everything was down in the zone at the knees. He was working hard from last summer all the way through the spring to accomplish the goal of being drafted. He came a long way from being a Clark High School guy who no one really knew anything about to where he is now.”
As he begins his attempt to ascend through the Dodgers organization, Zamora has already beat the odds.
“Coming from a small high school and playing at Calumet College, which is another small school, made it seem for me that it was meant to be,” he said. “This was a tough way to do it, but if I did it, it would have to be earned. It lit a fire under me and made me buy in. Coming from a small school, I had to work harder than the next guy.”
So he did just that, working his way to an opportunity in a big league organization. As for the future, Zamora put it best: The sky is the limit now.