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MINOR LEAGUE NOTEBOOK : Pro Ball Comes Easier for Some

They have been away from home for about a month and a half. For some, it’s the first time on their own. In addition to learning to hit with a wooden bat or trying to master a new pitch, there are added domestic concerns such as rent, laundry and long-distance phone bills.

A few of this year’s local draft picks have made the adjustment to professional baseball quite nicely. Others have struggled.

Statistically, here are a few who have gotten off to good starts:

--Dan Nerat, a pitcher from Granite Hills High and William Penn College, is 5-1 with a 2.50 earned run average for Southern Oregon, a single-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

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--Cesar Martinez, who pitched this season for Chula Vista High, is 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA for the Red Sox’s rookie club in Winter Haven, Fla.

--Mike Bovee, who led Mira Mesa to the section 3-A championship this season, is 1-1 with a 2.27 ERA for the Royals’ rookie team in Davenport, Fla. Bovee also has 40 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings.

--Rigo Beltran, who pitched for Wyoming after graduating from Point Loma High, is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA for Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, a single-A affiliate of the St Louis Cardinals.

--Antoine (Rabbit) Henry from Clairemont High has a .341 average for the Cardinals’ rookie team in Peoria, Ariz. All 15 of his hits have been singles, but he does have five stolen bases.

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--Infielder Essex Burton, who played at Mira Mesa before attending San Francisco State, has 16 stolen bases in 32 games to go with a .315 batting average for the rookie White Sox team in Sarasota, Fla.

On the cold side:

--Infielder Scott Dennison (San Diego State) has only four hits in 40 at-bats (.100) for single-A Jamestown, N.Y., in the Montreal Expos’ chain

--Catcher Mike Murphy (U.S. International) is only three for 31 (.097) for the Houston Astros’ single-A team in Auburn, N.Y.

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--Alan Ford, a Kearny High graduate and Burton’s teammate at San Francisco State, is 0-2 with a 7.59 ERA for the Blue Jays’ rookie team in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.

Hard Luck Hurlers: Jeremy McGarity, a graduate of El Capitan High now playing for Savannah, Ga., the Cardinals’ entrant in the Class-A South Atlantic League, is among the league leaders in ERA (3.18), complete games (four) and strikeouts (69) but has only a 5-10 record to show for it.

Last year in rookie ball, McGarity pitched decently in relief but was 0-8.

Kevin Nielsen, a former San Diego State pitcher now playing for the Cardinals’ Class-A team in Springfield, Ill., was 5-6 with a 3.49 ERA before turning in three consecutive three-hitters.

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In between two shutouts, however, Nielsen lost a 2-1 decision despite striking out nine. With his first three complete games of the year, Nielsen is now 7-7 with a 2.91 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 139 1/3 innings.

Make ‘Em Count: Earl Weaver would love this guy. Former San Diego State infielder Nikco Riesgo had only five hits from July 15 to July 21 but four were home runs. In that period, he had 13 RBIs.

Despite joining the Philadelphia Phillies’ double-A team in Reading, Pa., on May 10, Riesgo leads the team in home runs (12), runs (54) and is second in RBIs (50).

Still Streaking: Patrick Henry High graduate Eric Karros has hit safely in 24 of his last 25 games for Albuquerque, the Dodgers’ triple-A team, and has raised his average to .322 with 15 home runs and 79 RBIs. Before last week, Karros had a 21-game hitting streak, longest in the Pacific Coast League this season, during which he batted .375 (36 for 96).

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