- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2007

From the moment Tampa Bay tabbed Vanderbilt starter David Price with the first overall pick in yesterday’s draft, it was clear left-handed pitchers would be an even more valuable commodity than usual.

It was only a matter of time before Maryland southpaw Brett Cecil heard his name as well.

After seven lefties were selected in the first round — tying a record set in 2004 — the Terrapins’ closer was picked 38th by Toronto as part of the compensatory phase between the first two rounds.

It was a relatively anticlimactic moment for Cecil, who said he was probably more relaxed than his parents throughout the day. His mother, Linda, had a camera ready to capture his reaction at being selected for several picks before a call from his agent came after the 26th choice.

“He said Toronto wants to take you at 38 for X amount and me and my family agreed,” Cecil said. “We didn’t realize it had happened until the guy [from Toronto] called me. We didn’t see it on TV, but a lot of my friends knew because they were watching on the Internet.”

Price was an obvious selection for the beleaguered Devil Rays, who owned the top pick for the third time since 1999. He led the nation with 194 strikeouts and became the first lefty since Brien Taylor in 1991 to be taken first overall.

A pair of high school infielders — shortstop Michael Moustakas and third baseman Josh Vitters — then went to Kansas City and the Chicago Cubs, respectively, followed by Pittsburgh’s selection of Clemson lefty Daniel Moskos.

Baltimore selected Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters with the fifth pick. Wieters, who spent much of his college career doubling as the Yellow Jackets’ closer, hit .358 and slugged .592 with 10 homers and 59 RBI as a junior.

But the dominant theme of the first round was the eagerness to secure left-handed pitching. Four lefties — including Washington pick Ross Detwiler — went in the top 10, and seven were selected in the top 25.

Cecil didn’t crack that group, but his career at Maryland still impressed the Blue Jays. He had eight saves and a 3.32 ERA this spring, and even made two starts at the end of the season. Cecil, whose fastball can reach the mid-90s and is complemented by a nasty slider, spent the last two years as the Terps’ closer but could either start or relieve in the pros.

“I’m not too sure,” said Cecil, who hopes to sign quickly and perhaps even join reliever and former Maryland teammate Seth Overbey at high Class A Dunedin before season’s end. “Most teams said I’d be more effective as a starter. I’m actually curious to see.”

Among other notable players, Andrew Brackman, the 6-foot-10 N.C. State right-hander who gave up basketball to concentrate on his pitching career, fell to the New York Yankees at No. 30.

Brackman, considered a possible top-10 pick earlier in the spring, went 6-4 with a 3.81 ERA in his first full season with the Wolfpack. But he made only one start after May 1 because of an elbow injury, giving pro teams reason to pause.

San Diego scooped up James Madison’s Kellen Kulbacki, who hit .398 with 19 homers and 49 RBI, with the 40th overall pick. The outfielder, who was named Colonial Athletic Association Co-Player of the Year, slugged .785 and homered once every 10.05 at-bats as a junior. Virginia first baseman Sean Doolittle went to Oakland with the 41st pick. The junior hit .301 with seven home runs and 53 RBI and also had a team-high 46 walks for the Cavaliers. Doolittle also was 8-3 with a 2.40 ERA in Virginia’s rotation.

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