Baseball’s June draft begins today, a matter of vital interest to many Orange County players. But the fascination is gone for at least three.
Terry Tewell of Cypress College, Gary Christopherson of Golden West and David Stevens of Fullerton College all signed minor league contracts last week.
Each was drafted last June but didn’t sign. Teams retain the rights of unsigned players until the next draft (this year’s draft starts today and continues through Wednesday) with only results of the first round made public.
Tewell, a catcher, was picked last June by the Philadelphia Phillies after a successful freshman season at Cypress in which he earned all-Orange Empire Conference team honors.
The Phillies did not make a genuine effort to sign Tewell, but told him they would try to sign him if his sophomore season went as well. Tewell hit .343 with six home runs, 42 runs batted in and 12 steals this season, and was an all-conference selection again.
The Phillies started talking with Tewell May 10, and the sides reached agreement last week.
Signing early was one of three alternatives for Tewell. He could have waited for today’s draft, or gone to Cal State Fullerton, to which he had made an oral commitment.
“It was good to have options,” Tewell said. “We went back and forth until the offer was right. It’s a good organization and it seemed right. It hasn’t really hit me that I’m going to play professionally, but it’s getting closer.”
Tewell will report later this week to the Phillies’ minor league camp in Clearwater, Fla., where he will be given his assignment.
Christopherson, who plays both third base and first, and Stevens, a pitcher, will skip their sophomore seasons to try the minors.
Christopherson is the cousin of San Diego State catcher Eric Christopherson, a highly regarded prospect who is expected to be selected in the first two rounds.
Gary Christopherson didn’t want to wait to see how he would fare in this year’s draft, so he signed with the Astros, who picked him last June when he was a senior at Ocean View High School.
“The time was right,” said Christopherson, who hit .386 with 10 home runs and 51 RBIs for Golden West. “It sounded like a good opportunity, so I took it.”
Christopherson will report this week to the Astros’ rookie league team in Kissimmee, Fla.
Stevens, who had a 4.21 earned-run average with a team-leading three saves, signed with the Cubs, who picked him last June out of La Habra High School.
He will report this week to the Cubs’ Class-A Appalachian League team at Huntington, W.Va.
Draft trivia: Who was the first player taken in the initial draft in 1965 and by what team? Also, who is the only drafted player to reach the baseball Hall of Fame?
Five players with Orange County connections are listed in Baseball America’s top 100 draft list.
The magazine lists Marc Newfield of Marina High School as the third-best high school power hitter and predicted he will be the No. 8 pick overall.
Other local players listed:
No. 23--Catcher Eric Christopherson.
No. 34--Outfielder Gary Mota of Fullerton College.
No. 51--Infielder Bret Boone of USC and El Dorado High.
No. 73--Pitcher John Cummings of USC and Canyon High School.
The magazine also lists the number of players taken from each state in the first 25 years of the draft.
California is by far the leader with 8,555. Florida (2,747) is second and Texas (1,825) is third. Alaska is last with three.
In the first 25 years of the draft, the Angels had the first pick only once--in 1975. That year they took catcher Danny Goodwin of Southern University.
Goodwin reached the majors with the Angels, playing in four games at the end of the same year. He went on to play for the Twins and Athletics, and left baseball after the 1982 season.
In his career, he played in 252 games and hit .236 with 13 home runs and 81 RBIs.
Goodwin also was the only player to be picked as the top selection twice. He was the No. 1 pick in 1971 out of high school in Peoria, Ill., by the White Sox.
Goodwin and the White Sox couldn’t reach terms and he elected to attend Southern University.
Trivia answers: Rick Monday was the No. 1 selection of the Kansas City Athletics in 1965 out of Arizona State. Johnny Bench, a second-round pick of the Reds in 1965, was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year.