- The Washington Times - Friday, April 28, 2006

Clint Everts and Scott Kazmir might forever be linked after becoming the first pair of high school pitchers from the same team drafted in the first round. Everts in 2002 went fifth to Montreal and Kazmir 15th to the New York Mets after the duo carved up hitters at Cypress Falls High School in Houston.

Their career paths, though, have been far from similar.

Flash forward to the end of the 2004 season. Both had very successful years but very different endings.

Kazmir, after a much publicized trade to the Devil Rays, finished the season with the big league club. Everts’ 2004 campaign ended with reconstructive elbow surgery.

“I talk to [Kazmir] every once in a while,” Everts said. “I see him a few times in the offseason. During the season we don’t talk that much, just every now and then.

“Being a year behind, or to me being a year behind because of the injury, it [stinks]. I’m still young. That is how I have to look at it. It’s a sprint and not a marathon as far as your career goes.”

Everts — who doesn’t turn 22 until August — spent last season rehabilitating his elbow, first in Florida and then at short-season Vermont. While he came back sooner than expected from the injury, his outings were limited to a few innings at a time and he was under orders to throw mostly fastballs.

This season, Everts is starting at the same level where he finished 2004 (High-A) and could continue his ascent in the organization.

“This past offseason I’ve just been trying to get the arm back in shape,” Everts said. “I came to spring training and I’m just ready to go. I am about 181/2 months after surgery, so it is healthy. I’m just looking to have a healthy season.”

Before the surgery, Everts was considered the organization’s top prospect. He was a great two-way player in high school and would have been drafted as a shortstop if he weren’t one of the top pitching prospects available.

His main weapon of choice was a nasty curveball, rated as one of the best in the draft and after two seasons of professional baseball is one of the top breaking balls in the minor leagues. His changeup is also top-notch now, and two quality secondary pitches set him apart from many other prospects.

Relying too much on the curveball at such a young age may have been a factor in the injury, as well as his slight frame. Everts said he added about 15 pounds since the injury and grew a little bit. Aside from staying healthy in 2006, refining his fastball will be one of Everts’ main directives.

“What happens with many young kids when they have a quality breaking pitch, it is like a toy and they just keep playing with it,” Potomac pitching coach Charlie Corbell said. “It wasn’t so much the surgery that prevented him from using his breaking ball as much [last season] as it was him needing to learn how to command the fastball. Sometimes that is when your velocity goes when you do rely on your secondary stuff that is as good as Clint’s. We have to convince him that his fastball is also a quality pitch and fastball in and fastball away can be two quality pitches.”

Three starts into the season, Everts has had mixed results. The 7.94 ERA is ugly, but he only gave up one unearned run in his last outing. He has also struck out 13 batters and walked two in 111/3 innings.

“It’s still not 100 percent but it’s coming back,” Everts said. “From the first start to the next one the velocity is coming back a little bit. I can tell by a lot of the guys’ swings if I am throwing good or not. From the first start it got better.”

Notes — While the three starting pitching prospects at Potomac are considered to be the best in the organization, Harrisburg has its own Big Three. Shawn Hill, Justin Echols and David Maust are all sporting sub-2.00 ERAs after four starts and are a big reason why the Senators are 14-7. … Outfielder Frank Diaz and third baseman Kory Casto are off to great starts for the Senators, but their hitting approaches remain far different. Diaz is batting .333 but he has drawn only two walks (and one intentional) in 80 plate appearances. Casto is only hitting .279 but boasts an on-base percentage of .398 because of his patience (13 walks in 83 plate appearances).



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