Armed with a 95 MPH heater, knee-buckling curveball and developing changeup, the highly-touted Oswalt joined fellow youngster Wade Miller in the Houston rotation in May 2001. He began to dominate immediately, posting such staggering numbers that he challenged St. Louis Cardinals' man-child Albert Pujols for NL Rookie of the Year.
The 6'0", 170-pound Oswalt fought off injury woes and emerged as a major prospect in 2000 when he struck out fifteen men in his Double-A debut. Later that year, as an Olympian at the Sydney Games, Oswalt and Ben Sheets led the United States to the gold medal.
Ultra-competitive on the mound, Oswalt remained quiet and humble off the field. It took two months in the big leagues before he corrected reporters on the pronunciation of his name (Oh-swalt, not Oz-walt). And his humble nature endeared him to a clubhouse full of veterans. As teammate Jeff Bagwell said, ""He's come up and done a tremendous job. He's got great composure and acts a lot older than he is." (GL)
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