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Suspense ends with excitement for Beattie

The University of Tampa pitcher goes 43rd to the Tigers, a huge improvement on his draft position three years ago.

By MIKE READLING
Published June 8, 2004

TAMPA - Eric Beattie's plan Monday was to sleep late. He figured the less he was awake, the better chance he'd have ignoring the nerves that haunt a player expecting to be taken high in the major-league draft.

Luckily for Beattie, he only had to wait about four hours after rolling out of bed to breath that huge sigh of relief.

Around 2 p.m., Detroit area scout Steve Nichols called Beattie's house to tell him the Tigers had selected the University of Tampa right-hander with the 43rd pick overall. For Beattie the call marked an improvement of 45 rounds and 1,356 selections from where he was drafted by the Devil Rays in 2001.

"Three years ago I listened to the first three rounds and then just kind of went off and did my thing. I just went to a friend's house and hung out. I didn't even hear my name called," he said. "I'm happy with this. It's a big improvement."

Improving is what Beattie's career has been all about.

Since joining the Spartans he has worked with coach Joe Urso and pitching coach Sam Militello on developing his pitches and perfecting his nasty sinker.

That showed last season when he led all Division II pitchers with 15 wins. He then backed that up by going to the Cape Cod League, where as a Bourne Brave he led the league with a 0.39 ERA.

"I had been known about, but the Cape kind of put me on the map," Beattie said.

This season as a junior he was 10-5 with a 3.38 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 104 innings.

Militello, who also was drafted out of the University of Tampa as a pitcher in 1990, said the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Beattie has everything it takes to be successful at the professional level. His prospects get even better when Beattie works on his breaking ball.

"It's just his maturity level that stands out with him. I think he's so far ahead of where he should be," Militello said. "He's matured as a pitcher, he's a polished pitcher. He's able to command the ball in the strike zone. He should move up fairly quickly."

The fact Beattie went so high didn't surprise him. What was a bit of a shock was the Tigers were on the other end when he answered. Beattie said he hadn't talked to the Tigers since before the season.

In any case, he said he plans to sign with the Tigers and hopes to head to a minor-league team soon.

Middleton shortstop Josh Johnson (5-9, 160) was the first area prep player selected, going 85th overall in the third round to Kansas City. Johnson, who orally committed to the University of Texas, is expected to sign with the Royals.

Not long after Johnson was off the board, Clearwater Central Catholic pitcher Ryan Webb (6-6, 190) heard his name called by the Athletics. Webb was taken in the fourth round (127th overall).

He was the fourth pitcher the A's drafted Monday, the first out of high school.

The University of South Florida had three players selected. Junior catcher Devin Ivany (6-1, 198) went to the Expos in the sixth round, senior third baseman Myron Leslie (6-3, 234) went to the Athletics in the eighth round and junior right-hander Kyle Schmidt (6-3, 228), a Dunedin High grad, went to the Orioles in the 14th.

[Last modified June 8, 2004, 01:01:17]


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