The major league baseball draft may lure away USF’s past, present and future pitchers. Six players were drafted yesterday and Tuesday, five of them pitchers and three of them high schoolers.
USF baseball players, David Austen, Jon Uhl and Myron Leslie were drafted Tuesday on the first day of the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft.
Leslie was the first to go. The Philadelphia Phillies drafted him in the 11th round as a third basemen. Leslie, who has played shortstop his entire time as a Bull, seems to be ill-suited at that position in the majors. MLB.com stated that Leslie’s “tools (are) better suited for corner infield or possibly behind the plate.”
“My goal is to make it into the majors,” Leslie said. “If I have to play catcher to get in, that is fine with me.”
As a senior in high school, Leslie was drafted in the 14th round, but opted to play with the Bulls. The 6’2″, 200 pound junior is still unsure if he will leave college early or stick around with USF for another year. He said that he has not yet sat down and discussed his options with the Phillies, but said that it should happen sometime next week.
Austen was the next to go. The defending World Series Champion Anaheim Angels drafted him in the 15th round.
“It’s pretty cool,” Austen said. “It’s an honor.”
The right-handed pitcher said that he was drafted approximately where he expected he would be drafted, and was going to be happy with any team that drafted him. Austen said he was just happy to be playing baseball and that the Angels program should be fun. Uhl was the last to go. He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 19th round. Uhl’s late selection has compelled the junior pitcher, who was almost certain last week that he was not going to stay another season with the Bulls, to reconsider his future.
“I have to sit down and talk to the Twins,” Uhl said. “I did not imagine going so late.”
Uhl has not yet been given an offer, but as soon as the draft is over, a meeting will be arranged to discuss the specifics of a contract.
Uhl thought that he was going to be drafted by the Colorado Rockies, which had been in contact with him all day, but when Uhl was supposed to be picked by them, the Colorado team went with a high school player instead.
The Rockies, with which he had an open communication with all season, then called him back and told him that they would pick him in the next round. The Twins, who Uhl had not talked to before the draft, picked him up before the Rockies got another chance.
USF coach Eddie Cardieri said that he thinks Leslie and Uhl will not come back for a second season. Cardieri also was a little unhappy with the drafting of his players.
“I thought Leslie and Uhl would have been drafted higher,” Cardieri said.
Along with current Bulls that have been drafted, future Bulls were drafted. The New York Yankees drafted right-handed pitcher Tyler Clippard from Mitchell High School in New Port Richey in the ninth round. Clippard signed with the Bulls in mid-November. In his junior year, the right-hander compiled a 6-4 record with a 1.18 ERA, striking out 99 while walking 27.
“His stuff is pretty electric,” Cardieri said. “He is good.”
Clippard, who had his senior season cut short after being kicked off his team because he was charged with DUI, told the St. Petersburg Times that he would leave to be a Yankee before he even puts on a Bull uniform.
“I love everything about USF, and I really would like to play there,” Clippard said in yesterday’s issue of the St. Petersburg Times. “But getting drafted where I did, especially by the Yankees, I’m going to have to pass (college) up.”
With the definite loss of Austen and Travis Rios, and the potential loss of Uhl, Clippard’s decision to bypass USF could be devastating.
“Even if one guy leaves, it hurts.” Cardieri said.
Besides Clippard, two other Bulls signees wound up getting drafted. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays drafted Casey Hudspath, a right-handed pitcher out of Sarasota High School in the 25th round. Cardieri said that his future as a Bull is now unsure. Jason Smith, another right-handed pitcher who signed with USF, was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 49th round. Cardieri said he is still unsure if Smith will come to USF, but he thinks he might, due to such a late drafting.