- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 10, 2009

SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) - Mike Trout and his family drove more than two hours to attend baseball’s amateur draft.

The ride was well worth it.

A high school center fielder from southern New Jersey, Trout was the only prospect on hand Tuesday night as commissioner Bud Selig announced first-round picks at the MLB Network studios.

Sitting in a replica dugout with more than a dozen friends and family members close by, Trout had to wait awhile to hear his name called. But the whole clan hugged and celebrated when he was selected 25th overall by the Los Angeles Angels.

“It was the best feeling in the world,” said Trout, who has drawn comparisons to Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand for his speed, grit and aggressive play.

Wearing an Angels cap and clutching a red-and-white jersey, he posed for pictures with Selig on stage. Soon, the teenager was accepting congratulations from former major league stars such as Craig Biggio, Jay Buhner and Lee Mazzilli.

Plenty of prospects were invited to the draft, but nearly all of them declined.

“It was nerve-racking for me,” said Trout’s father, Jeff, who played in the minors for the Minnesota Twins. “I didn’t know if we were going to sit here for three days.”

Still, the whole family enjoyed the evening, even if it was quite a whirlwind.

“It was the neatest experience we’ve ever had,” Jeff Trout said. “We wouldn’t have passed this up. They treated us great.”


ARMED AND READY: Kyle Gibson’s injury didn’t deter the Minnesota Twins.

Projected as a possible top-10 pick in this year’s draft, Gibson developed a stress fracture in his forearm last month that caused a dip in his velocity while pitching for Missouri. Suddenly, the scouts were scared.

But after consulting with several doctors, Gibson and his adviser were confident he would heal quickly. To assuage the concerns of clubs considering the right-hander in the first round, they sent word around the majors that results of his MRI exam were available.

Thirty teams called, and they ran out of hard copies. The Boston Red Sox went so far as to tell Gibson they couldn’t draft him without first seeing the MRI to be sure of his medical condition. But the Twins felt good enough about what they saw to select Gibson with the 22nd overall pick.

“They have full confidence I’m going to be healthy, and I have full confidence that I’m going to be healthy,” Gibson said.

The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Gibson can’t throw again until sometime in July, and some have suggested to him that he take the summer off. Gibson, who recently completed his junior season at Missouri, said he doesn’t want to shut down his arm unless he’s told so by the Twins.

“I think it’s a really good organization for me to be in,” Gibson said, referring to Minnesota’s reputation for developing young pitchers.


SAFE AT HOME: There’s plenty of amateur baseball talent in Texas, and the Rangers have a penchant for drafting local players.

The team selected high school left-hander Matthew Purke with the 14th overall pick. Purke, who played at Klein High School just outside of Houston, was 4-2 with a 1.18 ERA as a senior. He struck out 91 and walked only seven in 47 1-3 innings.

The 18-year-old worked out at Rangers Ballpark on Sunday and impressed the club with his 95 mph fastball.

“We like his ability,” Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. “He has an easy arm. He throws strikes. He has above-average life to his fastball. We like his makeup.”

Purke has signed a letter of intent to play at TCU, but that didn’t deter the Rangers.

“We wouldn’t have taken a player if we didn’t feel we have a chance to sign him, especially in the first round,” Daniels said.

This is the fifth time in the last seven drafts that the Rangers have grabbed a pitcher with their first pick. Overall, they’ve taken nine Texas natives with their top selection. The most recent was right-hander Blake Beavan from Irving in 2007.

“It’s always a nice bonus to take a player from Texas,” Daniels said. “That helps us get to know him better. But we drafted him on his ability, not his area code.”


CHANGING COURSE: St. Louis took a high school pitcher with its first pick for the first time in nearly two decades.

The Cardinals selected right-hander Shelby Miller of Brownwood, Texas, with the 19th choice overall. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Miller was 10-2 with a 2.00 ERA as a senior with 153 strikeouts in 77 2-3 innings. He has committed to Texas A&M.;

Miller is the first high school pitcher drafted by the Cardinals in the first round since Brian Barber in 1991.


SECOND CHANCE: Tanner Scheppers moved up four spots in 12 months.

The right-hander was selected No. 44 overall by the Texas Rangers. He was picked 48th last year by Pittsburgh after a shoulder injury sidelined him at Fresno State, but the Pirates didn’t sign him.

The 22-year-old went back into this year’s draft pool and pitched the last month for an independent minor league team, making four starts for the St. Paul Saints.


AROUND THE HORN: Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda was excited to announce the Los Angeles Dodgers’ third-round pick: pitcher Brett Wallach. He is the son of former major league third baseman Tim Wallach, a five-time All-Star. The younger Wallach was chosen 96th overall out of Orange Coast Community College in California. … The draft resumes Wednesday, with rounds 4-50 to be held by conference call over a two-day span.


AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

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