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Seminole closes in on draft record


© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 6, 2001

In the most unpredictable of major professional sports drafts, Seminole High is a blue-chip stock that won't fluctuate.

Five Seminole players were chosen on the draft's first day (20 rounds), leaving the Warhawks, with another 30 rounds to go, one short of equaling the record for draftees from a high school in one year.

First baseman Casey Kotchman (first round, No. 13 overall, Angels), shortstop Bryan Bass ("sandwich" pick, No. 31, Orioles), left-handed pitcher John Killalea (sixth round, No. 194, Cardinals), right-handed pitcher T.J. Large (ninth round, No. 286, Giants) and right-handed pitcher Ryan Dixon (15th round, No. 442 Rangers) were selected Tuesday.

"Oh my goodness, it feels great," said Bass, who was ineligible for the last 21 games of the season because of a residency issue and feared his draft stock would suffer. "Everybody deserves it. Everybody worked hard. I'm happy for everybody."

Seminole catcher Bobby Wilson, the Times Pinellas County Player of the Year, is expected to be chosen early today.

"He should've been drafted (Tuesday)," Bass said.

Third baseman Errol Blumer, outfielder Jon Skorupski and second baseman Jon Riggleman also could be drafted, which would give the Warhawks the record.

This season, Seminole went wire-to-wire as the nation's No.1-ranked team in Baseball America, was unbeaten in the field in 31 games and captured the Class 5A title.

WHO? FROM WHERE?: You might not be familiar with Warner Southern College, an NAIA school in Lake Wales, but baseball scouts are. The tiny Christian school (enrollment 878) had two players drafted, third baseman Justin Turner (eighth round, Angels) and right-handed pitcher Benjamin Ally (18th round, Phillies).

I TOLD YOU SO: Chris Smith was a standout outfielder at Florida State last year. But he wanted to be a pitcher so he transferred to Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn., an NAIA school.

A left-hander with a 90 mph-plus fastball, Smith was projected to go in the second through fifth rounds, but was snapped up with the No. 7 overall pick by the Orioles.

IN DAD'S FOOTSTEPS: Dunedin third baseman Taylor McCormack shot up the draft charts in recent weeks, culminating in his selection in the seventh round by the Brewers.

The 6-3, 200-pound Florida Atlantic signee, who also can play catcher, hopes to follow in the footsteps of his father, Don McCormack. The elder McCormack, who was a catcher, had a cup of coffee with the Phillies in 1980 and '81. He had five at-bats in the big leagues and got two hits for a "career average" of .400.

MYSTERY MAN: The official MLB news release said the Cubs, with the second pick of the 10th round, chose third baseman Richard C. Slavik of South River, N.J. Don't be fooled. He is the same person as Corey Slavik, a 1997 Boca Ciega graduate who just completed his senior year at Wake Forest.

ONCE, TWICE, THREE TIMES A DRAFTEE: Clearwater Central Catholic graduate Patrick Boyd could be a case study for future draftees.

The outfielder was drafted in the second round out of CCC by the Mariners in 1997 but opted for college. Last season, after his junior year at Clemson, he was chosen in the fourth round by the Pirates but again decided to stay in school. Tuesday, after missing most of his senior season with a stress fracture in his lower back, he was drafted in the seventh round by the Rangers.

BIG APPLE BOUND?: Jefferson High pitcher Jason Weintraub was the top high school selection from Hillsborough County. The 6-3, 175-pound right-hander was taken in the sixth round, No. 192 overall, by the Mets.

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