Young's powerful bat makes him No. 1 pick in baseball draft
Wednesday, June 4th 2003, 12:00 am
News On 6
NEW YORK (AP) -- Delmon Young was considered the top high school player in the country long before his impressive hitting display in front of Tampa Bay officials a few weeks ago.
But with each powerful swing at Tropicana Field, Young sealed his fate as the top pick in baseball's first-year player draft.
"This is a special bat -- a special power bat," said Cam Bonifay, Tampa Bay's director of player personnel and scouting. "Any time that one of these players comes along, it makes your eyes light up."
And the Devil Rays made sure the slugging California high school outfielder will be swinging his way through their organization, making him the No. 1 pick Tuesday.
Young, the 17-year-old brother of Detroit Tigers outfielder Dmitri Young -- the fourth overall selection by St. Louis in 1991, hit .544 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs and was intentionally walked 26 times this season for Camarillo High School.
"He should develop into a fine major league hitter," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "With his brother at the big league level, the genes already are good. It was a wise selection and I just hope it pans out quickly."
Young was with his family -- including Dmitri, friends and high school teammates and coaches, listening to the draft on major league baseball's Web site. When the Devil Rays took him with the No. 1 pick, a roar filled Young's Southern California home.
"It was like the NCAA selection show or something -- everyone started jumping up and down and going crazy," Young said. "Being the No. 1 pick is a great opportunity and it means a lot to me."
Young, 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, has starred in high school for several years and shown great power potential and patience at the plate, an outstanding arm and good speed.
He hopes to be in the majors by the time he's 19, similar to the fast paths Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr. and Andruw Jones took.
"That's the ultimate goal," Young said. "I'm trying to be just like them, get to the big leagues as fast as possible and have a great career."
The Devil Rays wrestled between picking Young and Southern University second baseman Rickie Weeks, before going with Young. Milwaukee took Weeks with the second pick.
Weeks certainly made a case for being the top pick with one of the best college careers in Division I history. Weeks, undrafted out of high school, hit .483 with 17 homers and 73 RBIs and will be the second player to lead the nation in batting for two straight seasons.
Weeks said he doesn't feel pressure to perform as the No. 2 pick.
"You're always going to have critics," Weeks said. "You have to let the game speak for itself on the field."
Detroit took Wake Forest right-hander Kyle Sleeth with the third pick. He tied the NCAA record with 26 consecutive victories, and was 7-3 with a 2.81 ERA this season.
Richmond University right-hander Tim Stauffer, a strikeout artist who was 9-5 with a 1.97 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 114 innings, was taken by San Diego with the fourth pick.
Kansas City then drafted speedy outfielder Chris Lubanski, from Kennedy-Kenrick High School in Pennsylvania. The Royals also took Toledo catcher Mitch Maier with the 30th overall selection.
Ryan Harvey, a five-tool outfielder from Dunedin High School in Florida, was selected next by the Chicago Cubs.
Baltimore took Nick Markakis, a left-handed pitcher and outfielder from Young Harris Junior College in Georgia with the seventh pick. He was the junior college player of the year last season and was drafted by Cincinnati in the 23rd round, but didn't sign.
Pittsburgh selected Mississippi State left-hander Paul Maholm with the eighth pick. Left-hander John Danks, from Round Rock High School in Texas, went with the next pick to the Rangers. Ian Stewart, a left-handed slugging third baseman from La Quinta High School in California, went 10th to Colorado.
Next, Cleveland took Tulane first baseman Michael Aubrey; the Indians also drafted Ball State outfielder Brad Snyder with the 18th selection.
Oakland followed its recent trend in taking college players -- selecting University of Houston right-hander Brad Sullivan and Stetson third baseman Brian Snyder with the 25th and 26th picks. Of the Athletics' 22 picks on the draft's first day, 21 were college players.
Arizona also had two first-round picks: University of California third baseman Conor Jackson at No. 19, and Stanford outfielder Carlos Quentin at No. 29.
San Diego State outfielder Anthony Gwynn, the son of Tony Gwynn, was taken by Milwaukee with the second pick of the second round.
The draft, which will continue Wednesday, went 20 rounds on the first day and is scheduled to last 50 rounds.