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VAN POPPEL SOLID IN FIRST PRO PITCHING OUTING

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Teen-ager Todd Van Poppel, the $1.2 million hope of the Oakland Athletics, wasn't nervous in his professional pitching debut.

"I just wanted to get the feel of the minor leagues," Van Poppel said after he started Sunday night for Southern Oregon, Oakland's team in the Class A Northwest League. "I wasn't worried about striking out everybody."The 18-year-old allowed one hit, walked three batters and struck out five in 32/3 innings against the Bend Bucks.

"I wasn't nervous. I was anxious," he said. "I wanted to get that first pitch. I hadn't thrown in a game for two weeks."

Van Poppel had first-inning pitches clocked at 94 mph, 90 mph and 92 mph.

"He's got a nice loose arm when he's out in front of the count," said Wes Stock, Oakland's roving minor league pitching instructor, on hand for Van Poppel's debut. "That's when he shows you 90-plus."

Van Poppel, held to a 60-pitch limit, left the game with his team ahead 6-0. Southern Oregon beat Bend 14-6 with reliever Dave Tripp getting the victory.