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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Son No.3 hopes his time has arrived
Brian Baisley's two brothers were drafted. Now the USF catcher wants his name called.
By IZZY GOULD
Published June 3, 2006
LAND O'LAKES - Brian Baisley spent part of Wednesday hoping to convince the Devil Rays he deserves a uniform.
Workouts for major-league teams are a spring ritual heading into the draft.
Each workout is similar. Roughly 20-40 players show up hoping to make an impression.
Baisley's dream of playing professional baseball began while at Land O'Lakes High, where teammates with similar skills - some from his family - had their names called in the draft.
If selected next week, Brian, 23, a redshirt senior catcher for USF, would become the third Baisley, after twin Jeff and older brother Brad, with a shot at a professional career. "Three is something you don't come across too often," Baseball Prospectus national writer Kevin Goldstein said. "You get a lot of twos but not a lot of threes."
Jeff Baisley, who was drafted in the 12th round last year, is enjoying a strong start in Oakland's organization. Brad, 26, was drafted in the second round in 1998 and climbed to Double A in Philadelphia's organization before a shoulder injury ended his pitching career.
Despite putting up career numbers as a junior - .349 batting average, nine home runs and 47 RBIs - Brian watched the 50-round 2005 draft come and go without mention of his name.
Even his father, Calvin, who just finished his 22nd season as coach at Land O'Lakes, was stunned. "The one thing I know is you can't figure out the draft," he said. The 2005 draft marked Brian and Jeff's split. They had spent almost every inning of every game on the same team since they could play catch.
It wasn't an easy split considering everything between the twins is a competition. At 5, Brian won a foot race to the car, but Jeff ended the celebration by throwing a set of keys at him and knocking out a tooth.
"I was happy for him," Brian said of last year's draft. "All three of us have always wanted to (play professional baseball). I was a little jealous, you could say. I wish I had the opportunity."
Jeff is making the most of his chance. He spent last summer at short-season Class-A Vancouver. While coping with exchange rates, cool temperatures and a home ballpark known for deflating bats, Jeff led the Canadians in games (61) and tied for the lead in home runs (six) - only one at home. This season the third baseman leads Kane County (Geneva, Ill.) in most major categories and the Midwest League (a higher level of Class A) in RBIs (48) and runs (36) and is tied for the lead in home runs (11).
Jeff recently was named Midwest League player of the week after hitting three home runs in an 11-3 win against Wisconsin on May25. Sunday, he had six RBIs in a 19-5 win against Wisconsin. "I know I can do the same thing," Brian said. "Seeing what he does now makes you push yourself a little harder."
Calvin and the three Baisley boys had one season on the same team, 1998 at Land O'Lakes.
Brad was the 6-foot-9 right-handed ace and Brian the starting catcher as a freshman. Brad's low-90s fastball was noticed at summer showcases entering his senior year.
"People were obsessed with his size and his athletic ability," Calvin said. "He just continued to get better."
Brad spent four seasons in the minors with the Phillies and briefly made the 40-man roster in 2001.
Two major arm surgeries ultimately ended his career. He hasn't thrown a pitch since February, instead focusing on a college degree in finance - the Phillies pay his tuition - his wife, Meghan, and 3-month-old son, Logan.
"Baseball was an awesome experience," Brad said, "once in a lifetime." Brian, 6-3, 223, has not considered the next step if he is not drafted.
Some, including Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis, believe Brian could be drafted based on his experience and other factors.
"He has a chance when you have bloodlines like that," Callis said. "I guess it comes down to how well he can catch. ... He's a catcher with size, and he has some pop."
If he isn't selected, Brian might find himself at another one of those workouts, trying to catch the eye of a scout or independent league team. The ritual hasn't gotten that old.
"I don't want to get a 9 to 5 (job) just yet," Brian said.