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Major League Baseball Draft : Dodgers Select SDSU’s Gwynn on First Round

Times Staff Writer

Not long ago, Chris Gwynn was phoned by a Dodger official.

“Chris,” the caller said, “would you have anything against playing for the Dodgers?”

Gwynn could have objected on the grounds that his brother Tony plays for the Padres. But he didn’t.

By holding his peace, Chris Gwynn may one day discover what it’s like playing against his brother. He was selected in the first round of Monday’s free agent draft by the Dodgers.

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“I have followed my brother because we’re very close,” Gwynn said from his parents’ home in Long Beach. “I have always rooted for him. I was a Dodger fan when I was growing up. But even if it means beating the Dodgers, I root for my brother. If the Dodgers aren’t playing the Padres, I root for the Dodgers.”

Gwynn, an outfielder, was the 10th player selected Monday. Catcher Damon Hansel of Granite Hills High School was the 47th player selected, going to Pittsburgh in the second round.

Hilltop High graduate Tom Hinzo, a shortstop for the University of Arizona, also went to Pittsburgh as the fourth player selected in the secondary phase. Pete Roberts, a pitcher from Mira Costa College, went to Detroit as the 26th first-round pick. Two local pitchers were chosen in the third-round--San Diego State’s Russell Ellsberry by Oakland and Mira Costa’s John Kohli by Baltimore.

Collegiate pitchers have long had trouble getting Gwynn out. He batted .354 in three years at San Diego State with 23 home runs and 168 RBIs.

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Gwynn led the Aztecs with a .403 average in 1985, but missed 34 of 73 games with hamstring, knee and wrist injuries. He was an All-American in 1984 when he set what was then an NCAA record with 137 hits. He batted .383 with 19 homers and 95 RBIs that year.

Hansel, who stands 6-feet 4-inches and weighs 230 pounds, has signed a football letter of intent with Nevada Las Vegas. But now that he’s been drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, he has a big career decision ahead.

The draft took on Olympic proportions when North Carolina catcher B.J. Surhoff, Mississippi State first baseman Will Clark, Oklahoma pitcher Bobby Witt and Michigan shortstop Barry Larkin were the first four players selected.

Surhoff, Clark, Witt and Larkin all were members of the college all-star team that represented the United States in last year’s Olympic tournament.

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Surhoff, chosen by the Milwaukee Brewers, became the ninth collegian to be the No. 1 player picked in the free-agent draft. Surhoff, 20, a junior who bats left-handed, hit .388 in 58 games this season. He hit 14 home runs, drove in 57 runs and stole 29 bases. He struck out only five times in 224 at-bats.

In his three-year college career Surhoff, who also played shortstop, third base, and the outfield, batted .393, hit 32 homers, drove in 157 runs, stole 64 bases and had a .624 slugging percentage. He struck out only 24 times in 676 at-bats.

Clark was picked second by the San Francisco Giants, Witt was chosen by Texas, and Larkin was taken by Cincinnati.

Eleven of the first 12 players picked were collegians. In all, 18 of the 26 first-round selections were college players.

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The first high school player drafted was Glendora catcher Kurt Brown, whom the Chicago White Sox took with the No. 5 pick. Brown, 6-2 and 200, who has signed a football letter of intent with Cal State Long Beach as a linebacker, batted .400, hit 13 homers and drove in 49 runs this season.

Times Staff Writer Bob Cuomo also contributed to this story.


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