Cal State Fullerton outfielder Mark Kotsay was told for several weeks that the Florida Marlins were going to select him with the ninth pick in the amateur draft. A phone call Tuesday made it official.
Kotsay, the 1995 college player of the year, received a call from Marlin brass in Millington, Tenn., where he is trying out for the U.S. Olympic team.
“I’m really excited to be drafted that high, and by the Marlins,” Kotsay said. “I’m very impressed with everything about them. And being the ninth pick overall is just awesome.”
Some calls came early, some late for players picked during the 19 rounds Tuesday in New York. Only the first round is announced, but several area players learned of their fate.
USC had three players selected, with Jacque Jones going in the second round and catcher Chad Moeller in the seventh, both to the Minnesota Twins. Trojan second baseman Ryan Stromsborg was picked in the fourth round by Toronto. Also, former USC player Derek Baker, who played last season at Rancho Santiago College, was selected in the third round by the Texas Rangers.
Northridge’s Robert Fick (fifth round to Detroit) and Eric Gillespie (10th round to the Angels) also received calls. As did Fullerton’s Brian Loyd (fifth round to San Diego) and Tim DeCinces from UCLA, who was chosen by Baltimore in the 16th round.
The Dodgers drafted high school third baseman Damian Rolls of Kansas City, Kan. with their first pick, and selected high school catcher Josh Glassey of San Diego and University of Miami shortstop Alex Cora with their next two picks.
Rolls, 18, 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, said he will spend the next few weeks trying to decide whether to sign with the Dodgers or accept a full baseball scholarship to Kansas. Yet, the Dodgers are confident he will sign.
“I couldn’t be more happy,” Rolls said. “I think the Dodgers are a great organization. I’m going to weigh the pros an cons and make the best decision.
“Basically, it comes down to education. My parents and I will sit down and talk about everything.”
Rolls batted .512 with 19 runs, six doubles, four triples, five homers and 17 RBIs. He also stole 19 bases. “There was a lot of good college players early in the draft,” said Terry Reynolds, Dodger scouting director, “but we felt Damian was the best player on the board at the time we drafted him. We project him to have five average to above-average tools, and you don’t find many players like that in the draft.”
The Dodgers’ next seven selections were outfielder Peter Bergeron of Greeenfield (Mass.) High; first baseman Nicke Leach of Madera (Ca.) High; shortstop Jack Jones of Cal State Fullerton; pitcher Ben Simon of Eastern Michigan University; pitcher Chris Karabinus of Towson State (Md.); catcher David Falcone of Bayamon, Puerto Rico and second baseman Rudy Gaeza of University of Miami.
The Angels lost their first-round pick to the New York Yankees for signing Randy Velarde, but with their second round pick (55th overall) they chose shortstop Chuck Abbott from Austin Peay.
The 6-foot-1, 180 pound Abbott had the nation’s longest hitting streak in 1996, 42 games. He batted .376 with 22 doubles, four triples and four homers.
Abbott was not among the top 100 prospects ranked by Baseball America, but the Angels’ third-round pick, catcher Josh Glassey from San Diego’s Mission Bay High, was rated 87th. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Glassey batted .333.
Pitcher Nick Bierbrodt from Millikan was the first local high schoolplayer selected. He was the last pick in the first round by the Arizona Diamondbacks, who will not begin playing until 1998. Other high school players selected include: Jose Garcia, Baldwin Park, in the second round to Milwaukee, and Kris Stevens, Fontana, third round to Philadelphia.
Staff writers Lon Eubanks and Bob Nightengale contributed to this story.