Colleges low on prospects
By STEVE LEE
© St. Petersburg Times,
Surely there must be a major-league prospect or two from Pasco County's two colleges.
Then again, maybe not.
Pasco-Hernando Community College and Saint Leo University coaches are hopeful, but they aren't counting on any of their players being selected in the first-year player draft.
"It's really a tough call," PHCC coach Steve Winterling said. "It's slim pickings this year."
Saint Leo coach Ed Stabile figures catcher Erik Shafer (Land O'Lakes), who hit .387 with 11 home runs and a team-high 74 RBI, might be chosen by a major-league team.
"He really worked hard to make himself a better hitter," Stabile said.
While Shafer, who just completed his senior year, is running out of options, some players such as Zephyrhills' Danny Wardell are taking the junior college route with hopes of putting up big numbers for two years and improving their draft status.
Wardell, a PHCC signee who hit 28 homers the past two seasons for Zephyrhills, isn't optimistic he will be drafted this week.
"It all depends on the scouts," said Wardell, who had tryouts with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds last summer. "They talked to me after the tryouts and everything, but I haven't heard anything."
Both colleges have produced several draft picks in recent years. Former PHCC players Kevin Collins (Chicago Cubs) and Brent Stentz (Minnesota Twins) are working their way up the ladder in the minors while Saint Leo's Brian Grassing (St. Louis Cardinals) and Joe Ricciardo (Arizona Diamondbacks) were among last year's selections.
PHCC's Chris Langlois (Detroit Tigers) and Derrell Smith (Seattle Mariners) were drafted last year, but did not sign.
"They could possibly get drafted again," Winterling said. "Those are the two off my team who possibly could be low picks."
Land O'Lakes coach Calvin Baisley, whose son Brad spurned an offer from the University of South Florida three years ago to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, has two more sons that could be taken this week. But, the coach figures twins Jeff and Brian will probably go to USF, which signed them before this season.
Coach Baisley's reasoning, in part, stems from the greater need for pitching in the pros. Brad is a 6-foot-9 right-hander with the Clearwater Phillies (Class A). Jeff is a shortstop/part-time pitcher and Brian is a catcher.
In some cases, coach Baisley added, a decision also comes down to a major league team's opinion whether a college signee will accept an offer.
"What people don't understand about the draft is it's not all about your ability, but about your signability," he said.
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