The Dixie Hollins grad again is chosen as a draft-and-follow, this time by the Blue Jays.
By BOB PUTNAM
Published June 9, 2004
Jesse Litsch chose not to follow the second day of the draft.
Instead, the former Dixie Hollins standout spent Tuesday afternoon standing in line at the Clerks of Courts office to get his passport, which was required of the South Florida Community College pitcher before heading to China to play in the Friendship Games.
While there, Litsch received a call from teammate Andy Polk, who was following the draft online. Litsch heard he was drafted in the 24th round by Toronto.
"That was kind of a shock," Litsch said. "I had never talked to Toronto before. I just said, "Hmm. That's interesting.' "
Litsch was picked as a draft-and-follow, a rule that allows clubs to maintain exclusive signing rights to a drafted player until a week before the next draft, if that player attends junior college.
It is a process Litsch knows all too well. Last season, he was chosen in the 37th round by the Colorado Rockies. He elected to go to South Florida Community College, and the Rockies kept him under their control as a draft-and-follow.
In his first season at SFCC, Litsch blossomed into a premier power pitcher. He was selected as the Florida Community College Association pitcher of the year after going 9-1 with a 2.11 ERA.
The Rockies tried to keep him, offering a bonus around $45,000-60,000 to sign two weeks before the draft. Litsch declined.
The Rockies tried again. Litsch said the team called and was going to take him in the 10th round Monday if he accepted a $60,000 bonus. Litsch passed on the offer.
"(The Rockies) were going to take me 27 rounds higher but were basically offering the same amount of money," Litsch said.
Litsch, who plans to return to SFCC, said the Blue Jays frequently were going to send scouts to see how he performs next season. "I'm well-versed in how the draft-and-follow works," he said. "We'll see how it goes with Toronto."
Other county players who might be draft-and-follow candidates include Lake City Community College catcher Scott Leffler and St. Petersburg College pitcher Todd Redmond, who both were drafted by the Pirates.
Leffler, a former Dunedin star, was taken in the 27th round. Redmond, who played for Northside Christian, was picked in the 39th.