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Anaheim unites Kotchman, dad

Seminole High star goes 13th to Angels, where he might start his pro career playing for his father.

By PETE YOUNG

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 6, 2001


photo
[Times photo: Scott Keeler]
With Seminole teammates and friends offering moral support, Casey Kotchman learns he has been picked by the Angels.
A balky Internet connection Tuesday meant Casey Kotchman and his family were seemingly the last people in all of Seminole to find out he had been selected No. 13 by the Anaheim Angels in the first round of the first-year player draft.

The delay couldn't diminish the significance of the moment, however: Tom Kotchman, Casey's father, is an Anaheim scout and manager of one of the Angels' two Rookie League teams. For the past 11 seasons, father and son spent the summer in Boise, Idaho, where Tom coached the Boise Hawks.

This summer, Casey, the kid who grew up in and around his father's minor-league dugouts and matured into a 6-foot-3, 215-pound prodigy of a first baseman, likely will be playing for his dad -- as a professional.

"It would have been really neat if it had been in Boise," said Tom Kotchman, whose team moved this season to Provo, Utah. "They saw him when he was 7 (years old), and now to see him playing for the team at 18 ...

"It's a unique situation for a father to coach a son. But obviously, if I'm his coach, it won't be for very long."

Casey Kotchman, living up to his reputation as preternaturally composed, stayed even-keeled as heavy Internet traffic temporarily blunted his effort to monitor the draft live online. A few minutes after he was selected, about 1:35 p.m., he got the phone call from Angels scouting director Donny Rowland.

"I've wanted to play professional baseball since I was a little munchkin," said Casey, who batted .402 in helping Seminole to the 5A state title. "(Playing for my father), it'll be kind of neat."

Tuesday at the Kotchman home, which is just a lazy fly ball over a few trees from the Seminole High field where Casey cultivated his game, several friends and family members gathered for the occasion, along with three television crews and representatives of two newspapers.

"Casey's always been cool, calm and collected, but he'll show a little excitement when you guys leave," Casey's mother, Sue Kotchman, said. "How many kids get to be in the first round? That's awesome."

Before the season, the Angels told Tom Kotchman not to bother filing a scouting report on his son -- others would handle the job -- and Casey was omitted from Tom's final rankings of Florida players. (Marianna High pitcher Alan Horne topped his chart.)

This was the first time in 11 years Tom wasn't in Anaheim, in the war room at the stadium during draft day. After networking Monday night, Tom concluded his son most likely would be chosen by the Brewers (at No. 12) or Angels.

Milwaukee opted for Arizona high school pitcher Mike Jones; then the Angels made Casey the fifth high schooler picked and first infielder. He is the highest high school player drafted from Pinellas County, surpassing Gibbs' Boof Bonser, who was No. 21 last year by the Giants.

Casey, who has not signed with a college, soon should be a millionaire. Last season's No. 13 selection, outfielder Shaun Boyd of the Cardinals, received a $1.75-million signing bonus.

Tom Kotchman is slated to represent his son in negotiations. He said he might relinquish the agent duties, however, because of the excessive workload and possible conflict of interest.

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