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Former ace Otero signs with Giants

Former USF right-hander Danny Otero signed a contract with the San Francisco Giants after being selected in the 21st round of this year’s Major League Baseball draft. Otero was the ace of the Bulls’ staff last season. He tied for the team lead with nine victories and led the Bulls in strikeouts while posting a 3.32 ERA.

Left-hander Davis Bilardello was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 43rd round. Despite leaving the team mid-season, Bilardello was one of the consistent relievers on the USF staff in 2007, giving up one home run in 19 appearances.

USF also lost two potential players to the majors when third-round pick Rey Navarro signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks and seventh-round pick Efrain Nieves signed with the Milwaukee Brewers.

As a replacement for those lost in the draft, USF baseball coach Lelo Prado has focused a lot of his recruiting efforts on the Tampa Bay area this off-season. Five of the 10 seniors named to the Tampa Tribune’s All-Hillsborough County Team this season have signed with USF. The five All-County seniors coming to USF next season are Riverview outfielder Juan Carlin, Gaither pitcher Chris Jones, Jesuit shortstop Jonathan Koscso, Bloomingdale pitcher Zach Pietrzyk and Jesuit pitcher Kevin Quackenbush. Having graduated from the University of Tampa, Prado is familiar with the area and wants to make an effort to keep local talent here in Tampa.

“One thing, when I took the job, that I wanted to do was to keep the best local kids here,” Prado said. “I think we’ve proved that that’s what we’re going to do. We’re excited that they’re coming.”

Prado spent the weekend in Omaha watching his former team, Louisville, compete in the College World Series. Most of the Cardinals’ players were recruited by Prado, who coached Louisville for 11 seasons before coming to USF. The coach enjoyed the chance to see his former team make a run at the title.

“It’s been great,” Prado said in a phone interview from Omaha. “I mean seeing (Louisville) beat Mississippi State today, and being there the first day and talking to all the players. This is what every guy who plays college baseball is in a uniform for.”

After losing 15-10 to Rice on day one, Louisville defeated Mississippi State 12-4 on Sunday and will continue to progress toward the championship series in the double elimination tournament.

Bulls lose out on recruit

Meanwhile, it looks as if USF is not going to be the next stop for 6-foot, 10-inch Louisiana State University forward Magnum Rolle. After seeing limited playing time with the Tigers, Rolle has decided to pass on USF and head to Louisiana Tech, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Louisiana Tech assistant coach Nikita Johnson recruited Rolle to LSU in 2005.

With Rolle eliminated from contention, reports indicate USF may turn to forward Sean Carter. Carter, coming from the Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina, could contribute immediately.

The Bulls have one more scholarship opening for next season.

By: Dan Falco and Eric Moeller