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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Rich Aude worked on consistency over 11 seasons, 3 in bigs

Rich Aude 1990 Augusta Pirates card
In his fifth year in the minors, Rich Aude was eager to finally get his call-up. The Pirates' general manager in town, Aude saw his chance to get noticed, The Los Angeles Times wrote in June 1993.

Aude delivered with two hits, a double and his 11th home run for AA Carolina, The Times wrote. Those went along with a high batting average at .330.

"The name of the game is being consistent," Aude told The Times. "With two strikes, I choke up an inch, move a little closer to the pitcher and just try to put the ball in play. If I can sneak in a few singles, I can keep my average up."

Whether he got noticed then or somewhere else, Aude was in Pittsburgh by September, marking the first of three seasons in which Aude would see major league time.

Aude began his career taken by the Pirates in the second round out of Chatsworth High in 1989. It was Aude's height that got him noticed then. He grew four inches before his senior year to 6 feet, 5 inches tall. His power grew, as well.

"He's a big kid that's long and lean with a lot of room to physically mature and get stronger," Cam Bonifay, Pirates' director of scouting, told The Times. "We feel like he's going to be a big man with fine body control who could develop into a power hitter."

Aude chose the Pirates over college ball at Santa Barbara. The deal included an $80,000 bonus.

"I think I have a good chance to move up because they don't have a whole lot of talent," Aude told The Times later.

Aude got off to a slow start at rookie ball that year. Then it got worse. In his first 13 games, he hit just .152, The Times wrote in August. He had just started to turn it around when he was beaned in the face, breaking his jaw.

"My whole head was buzzing," Aude told The Times. "It feels like I've got the whole baseball stuck in my cheek. I didn't really know where I was. I was spitting out blood."

Returning to single-A Augusta for 1990, Aude hit just .234 with six home runs in 128 games. He hit a run-scoring double in an August game. At high-A Salem in 1991, Aude hit a better .265 then .286 at Salem for 1992.

Aude spent 1993 largely at AA Carolina. In April, two months before his outing in front of the GM, Aude had the game-winning RBI in the 10th.

''I expected the slider,'' Aude told The Orlando Sentinel. ''I was fortunate enough to get the hit that counted today.''

Aude then hit AAA Buffalo later in the year and then Pittsburgh. With the Pirates for September, Aude got his first major-league hit Sept. 17, breaking a tie against the Cardinals. Aude saw another hit taken off the board later, when a lineup issue resulted in him batting out of order.

Aude played 13 games for the Pirates in 1993, then the entire year of 1994 he spent at AAA Buffalo. He returned to the majors in 1995 for 42 games. One of those 1995 games came in May with Aude hitting a two-run home run to break a tie. Another came in September with Aude hitting a two-run, 11th-inning single. He had seven more games in 1996 and his major league time was done.

Aude's final major league game came in May 1996. But he was still hitting in June, hitting home runs in three consecutive at-bats for AAA Calgary, The Times wrote that month.

Aude held on in the minors through 1999, last playing with the White Sox at AA Birmingham. Aude later became a scout for the Devil Rays, signing Delmon Young.
Originally published Aug. 30, 2010
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,073
Made the Majors: 658 - 61.3%
Never Made Majors: 415-38.7%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 287
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 169

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