Draft could dodge county
By JOHN C. COTEY
© St. Petersburg Times,
NEW PORT RICHEY -- Last year's Major League Baseball draft was an event. With potential picks scattered throughout the county, the draft delivered when eight local prep players were chosen along with two Saint Leo players and a St. Petersburg Junior College player from the area.
Don't expect the same when the 2001 First-Year Player Draft begins today. However, do expect former Ridgewood star Mike Rabelo to carry the county banner. The University of Tampa catcher, who worked out for the Florida Marlins in Miami on Monday, could be picked as high as the second or third round and will almost certainly be chosen by the 10th round. Rabelo and former Pasco High standout Daniel Boyd, respectively the 1998 and '97 North Suncoast players of the year, will probably be the first two choices with county ties, though Boyd might have to wait until Wednesday's second day.
Boyd just completed a successful season at South Florida where he batted .330 with a team-high 12 home runs and 48 RBI. But as a senior, Boyd isn't considered as "draftable" as collegiate juniors, high school or junior college players. Coming out of high school in 1997 after leading the Pirates to the state final, Boyd was drafted in the 22nd round by Minnesota. Instead of signing, he opted for a college scholarship.
In four seasons at USF, Boyd batted .347 with 47 homers and 209 RBI. He also stole 51 bases.
Rabelo was drafted out of high school by Boston, who selected the then-pitcher in the 13th round. After protracted negotiations, Rabelo and the Red Sox failed to come to terms before he enrolled at UT.
The Spartans turned Rabelo, who was 11-0 with a 0.90 ERA and 133 strikeouts as a senior at Ridgewood, into one of the finest catchers in college baseball. He hit .371 with 10 homers and a team-high 57 RBI this season and led the Spartans to the Division II World Series.
Rabelo could be the first Division II player selected.
"Oh yeah, he's got everything; he's got the God's gift of an arm," Ridgewood coach Larry Beets said. "He can turn it loose, and he's a workaholic. It also doesn't hurt that he was able to work with (former major-league player) Sam Militello at Tampa and Joey Urso (who also played professional baseball)."
Beets said Rabelo was in Milwaukee this weekend for a workout for pro scouts.
None of the local prep crop are expected to be drafted today. As for the second day, that is anyone's guess. Even Land O'Lakes coach Cal Baisley, father of the county's two top prospects in catcher Brad and shortstop Jeff, isn't sure what to expect.
"To be honest," he said, "I don't know if either one of them will be picked."
Both Baisleys, who have signed scholarships with USF, competed in the state Florida Athletic Coaches Association all-star game. They worked out for scouts last Thursday and played in the game on Saturday. Brian went 1-for-2 and caught five innings while Jeff was 0-for-4 and played third base.
At the workouts Thursday, they were timed in the 60-yard dash and took batting practice before a gaggle of scouts.
"We were basically out there so the scouts can see what you can do," Brain Baisley said. "They didn't say anything to me, personally. I was out there mostly for fun. I've already got a scholarship, but it never hurts to try and impress the scouts."
Ridgewood's Derek Kuryliw and Zephyrhills' Danny Wardell, both headed for PHCC, could also be chosen late. Kuryliw also played in the state all-star game and worked out for scouts.
"He said he had a good time in the 60 and did good in batting practice," Beets said. "A couple of the scouts told me he looked pretty good and said they had heard some things about him. But the thing with him is, he's going to college. You can't eat baseballs. And last year, he kind of came on strong, but the focus was on the three kids (Land O'Lakes' Cory Doyne, Derek Thompson and Kurt Shafer) who could throw 90. So he was really unknown this year."
Wardell, who hit 28 homers the past two seasons for the Bulldogs and set county and school records with a 1.000 slugging percentage as a junior, is not 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."
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