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PREP REVIEW / MIKE REILLEY : Newfield Feels Heat of Draft

Baseball scouts have compared Marc Newfield to Cincinnati Reds slugger Eric Davis.

And if the projections of Baseball America magazine hold true, Newfield and Davis could someday be teammates.

Baseball America projects the Marina High School first baseman as the No. 8 pick in today’s amateur draft, and the Reds own the seventh pick.

“They say I have the same stance as Davis does and I approach the plate the same way he does,” said Newfield, 6 feet 4, 205 pounds. “They say my swing looks like (Darryl) Strawberry’s.”

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Does he mind the comparisons?

“No, I kind of like that,” Newfield said. “It’s great be compared to a pro player.”

By this afternoon, he could be one.

Scouts have assured Newfield that he will be drafted in the first round. The only question left is how much of a signing bonus he’ll get.

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Newfield has been recruited by Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach and the University of the Pacific, but says he will probably attend a junior college if he doesn’t turn professional.

Junior college players are eligible for the draft after one season while players at four-year colleges must stay in school at least three years.

“I’ll probably go to Rancho Santiago or Golden West,” said Newfield, who has a 2.5 grade-point average but said he scored 690 points on his first attempt at the Scholastic Aptitude Test, 10 points shy of the NCAA requirement for freshman eligibility. “I’ll probably play there a year and then sign (with a pro team) or transfer to a bigger school.”

If he decides to play professional baseball, Newfield can’t sign a contract. He’s only 17 and will need his parents, Richard and Dee, to sign for him.

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“It all depends on the money and stuff, and what my parents think,” Newfield said. “They’ll have a lot to do with it.”

Newfield said he has no minimum for a signing bonus, although he is almost guaranteed a six-figure signing bonus if he’s taken in the first round. The smallest bonus for a first-rounder last year was $120,000.

“We’re going to wait and see what first and second picks get and base my bonus on that,” Newfield said. “I have no set amount. It’ll be whatever they (club) think I’m worth.”

This weekend has been a busy one for Newfield, a senior first baseman. He was one for four and scored twice Saturday in the Vikings’ 6-4 victory over Diamond Bar in the Southern Section 5-A championship game.

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Newfield, a designated hitter who moved to first base last summer, said scouts told him he will move to the outfield in the pros.

Newfield, who hit .481 with four homers and 37 hits during the regular season, has been named the California Player of the Year by Scholastic Coach Magazine. He’s one of 46 state winners who are eligible to be named the Gatorade Circle of Champions National Player of the Year.

Baseball America lists Newfield as the third-best power hitter in high school behind Tony Clark of El Cajon Christian and Adam Hyzdu of Moeller High in Cincinnati.

Newfield’s stock has risen quickly even though he hit only four home runs in the regular season, six fewer than last year. He wasn’t even rated in Baseball America’s preseason list, but was the magazine’s best high school first baseman by midseason.

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Marina Coach Paul Renfrow said Newfield’s statistics this season are deceiving. Pitchers are more wary of Newfield’s reputation this season, and give him few pitches he can hit.

Newfield, who bats right-handed, led the county in home runs last season with 10 and was expected to challenge the county record of 12. Instead, that honor went to Fullerton High junior D.C. Olsen, who had 13.

Still, news of Newfield’s hitting has spread. As many as 30 scouts have lined the backstop at Marina games and practices. Newfield has a collection of their business cards on his dresser in his Huntington Beach home.

Because the Phillies own the No. 3 pick in the draft, a Philadelphia newspaper has charted his progress the last few weeks. Reporters from Detroit papers have interviewed him, wondering if the Tigers will draft him with the second selection.

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The team that has shown the most interest is the Seattle Mariners, who have the sixth pick.

Renfrow has said the attention and pressure have bothered Newfield. The once easy-going player now gets nervous before games.

“It’s been real fun,” Newfield said. “I’ve been enjoying it, but it has been pretty hectic, too.”

Volleyball is the fastest-growing sport in the Southern Section, and it appears to be growing too fast for some.

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Consider what happened at the Southern Section 4-A finals May 26 at Marina High School.

Nearly 1,000 fans waiting for the start of the 4-A game between Edison and Mira Costa stood outside for more than an hour while the 3-A game between Brentwood and Arcadia went five games.

Marina’s gym seats 2,500, but it was filled to capacity with fans for the 3-A game and early arrivals for the 4-A game.

The 3-A match started at 5:30 p.m., but pushed the 4-A title game past its scheduled start of 7:30 by an hour and a half. The mob of fans were let inside after the 3-A game was finished and the Arcadia and Brentwood fans had gone.

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Edison Coach Brian Rofer said the finals “weren’t very well organized.”

“The sport’s getting bigger and the players are getting better, (but) the administration is not keeping up with it,” Rofer said. “The CIF did the best it could, but someone needs to step in there and do something.”

One idea would be to move the event to a larger arena, which Southern Section officials say they haven’t considered in the past because crowds weren’t as large. The volleyball finals have been held at the Marina or Westminster High gyms for the past several years.

Words not to be minced: Saddleback distance runner Robby Price has a 4.5 cumulative grade-point average and was a National Merit Scholarship finalist. But perhaps the reason Price was chosen over nearly 600 applicants to be the CIF Southern Section Scholar Athlete of the Year lies in his essay, “The Value of Participation in High School Athletics.”

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An excerpt:

“Sports teach the establishment of long term goals, an outlook toward investment in the future, and instill an orientation toward delayed gratification,” wrote Price. “These attitudes transcend merely athletic parameters, and apply to virtually every facet of life. . . .

“Perseverance becomes the modus operandi of every effort, be it the acquisition of knowledge through education, faith through devotion, or financial security through personal management. Sports mold the universally relevant behavioral characteristics that are prerequisite to success, to victory in life. . . . “

California Team Communications, which publishes Cal-Hi Sports Weekly and California Football and California Basketball magazines, has gone out of business. The publication has run weekly polls and updates on high school sports since 1979.

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Prep notes

Tickets for the “Fabulous 44" boys’ and girls’ state all-star game, scheduled for June 24 in UC Irvine’s Bren Center, go on sale today at all Ticketron outlets and the Bren Center box office. The game features All-Americans Ed O’Bannon of Artesia High and Lisa Leslie of Morningside. Tickets are priced at $8 and $6. . . . Santa Ana High School needs coaches for boys’ basketball, water polo, swimming and wrestling. Contact Athletic Director Bill Ross at 558-5896.


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