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Feeling the draft

The USF baseball team may have had a disappointing season in 2006, but three of its players can now celebrate earning the chance to play at the professional level.

Pitchers Casey Hudspeth and Chase Lirette and catcher Brian Baisley were drafted Tuesday and Wednesday in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Hudspeth and Lirette were both taken on the first day of the two-day, 50-round draft, while Baisley was drafted on the second day.

“I’m very happy for both of them,” pitching coach Nelson North said about the two right-handers he coached for three years. “And I’m very pleased about Brian Baisley getting drafted.”

Hudspeth, who recorded 275 strikeouts and 23 wins in his three years at USF, was selected by the Houston Astros in the fifth round with the 159th overall pick.

“I thought he’d go in the first five rounds,” North said. “In my heart, I kind of thought (he would’ve been drafted) in the third or fourth (round), but I thought top five rounds, so I wasn’t shocked where he went, and I wasn’t disappointed where he went. I’m just happy he went, and I know he’s happy.”

Not only was North glad to see Hudspeth get drafted, but he also said Houston is a good fit for the 6-foot Sarasota native.

“Houston is a good organization for him,” North said. “I think they do well with the pitchers, and I think they bring along their young guys pretty good, so I’m very pleased for him.”

Lirette, who struck out 45 batters last season en route to earning seven saves, was drafted in the 16th round by the Toronto Blue Jays.

“I was a little surprised at where Chase went,” North said. “I thought he would’ve gone a little bit earlier.”

Baisley, who was the final Bull drafted in 2006, won’t have to travel far to begin training with his new team.

After seeing his twin brother Jeff get drafted last year, Brian will get his chance in the minor leagues with the New York Yankees as the 734th overall pick.

After being drafted in the 24th round, Baisley said he didn’t put too much thought into where he would be drafted.

“I didn’t really set any expectations for myself,” Baisley said. “A draft is a funny thing, so I didn’t really set any expectations, but I would’ve liked going higher.”

Baisley is happy to be going to an organization he grew up following, and with the success the Yankees have had throughout their history, he knows he’s in good hands.

“I’m pretty happy to be drafted by the Yankees,” Baisley said. “Everything they do is first class, and I know I’m going to be treated well as long as I’m playing with them.”

Baisley said the Yankees will call him within the next day to discuss a contract and details of beginning training at their Tampa complex with their rookie team, but that money won’t be an issue.

“I don’t have too much bargaining power since I’m a senior,” Baisley said. “So either I take what they give me or I’m done.”