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Amateur Free Agent Baseball Draft : No Strawberrys in This Crop, but Pickings Are Good

United Press International

Major League baseball will hold its annual summer draft of amateur free agents Monday, and while there are no players of the caliber of Darryl Strawberry or Shawon Dunston among this year’s crop, there are some solid prospects.

B.J. Surhoff, a catcher on the U.S. Olympic team, is a highly touted player who should go high. Surhoff, a native of Rye, N.Y., attends the University of North Carolina. He was drafted out of high school by the New York Yankees.

His Tar Heel teammate, shortstop Walter Weiss, also is projected as going in the first 10 picks.

Two other top prospects in the draft come from Oklahoma, which is competing in the College World Series. The Oklahoma Sooners boast right-handed pitcher Bobby Witt and the Oklahoma State Cowboys have all-time NCAA home run king Peter Incaviglia, a designated hitter.

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Mississippi State, another participant in the College World Series, should also produce two top picks, first baseman Will Clark and outfielder Rafael Palmeiro.

Barry Larkin, a shortstop from Michigan. also bears watching.

“Some, like in any draft, have a chance to come on quickly,” said California Angels vice president Mike Port. “Whether they start at the major-league level, well that remains to be seen.”

Some of the top players drafted in recent years include, Strawberry, picked by the New York Mets No. 1 overall in 1980, and Chicago Cubs’ shortstop Dunston, the first player drafted in 1982. Strawberry, currently on the disabled list, has emerged into a budding star while Dunston, who began this season as the Cubs’ regular shortstop, has been sent back to the minor leagues for more seasoning.

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The 21st annual free agent draft, which will be conducted via conference call from Commissioner Peter Ueberroth’s office at 10 a.m. PDT, consists of two phases -- the regular phase, mainly for first time draftees, and the secondary phase, for players who were previously drafted but did not sign.

The Milwaukee Brewers hold the top selection in the regular phase, while the Boston Red Sox will pick first in the secondary phase. The order of selection for the regular phase was determined by order of finish last season, while the secondary phase was decided by lottery.

The Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees will receive an extra pick in the regular phase for having lost players to other teams. The Mariners received an extra pick for losing free agent Steve Henderson to the Oakland A’s in the while the Yankees have an added choice for losing pitcher Tim Belcher to the A’s.

The first two rounds of the draft will be held Monday, while the remaining rounds will take place Tuesday, and if necessary, Wednesday. Each player selected will be notified by the individual clubs within 24 hours by mailgram..

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