Westlake Battery Leading the Charge

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The electricity in today's amateur baseball draft will come from a plentiful supply of power pitchers, most from the high school ranks.

As for local talent, the draft is battery-powered, as in the most highly regarded pitcher-catcher combination in 20 years.

Tyler Adamczyk and Mike Nickeas of Westlake High will probably be the first two high school players taken from the region.

Not since Jeff Wetherby and Phil Lombardi of Kennedy in 1981 has a local battery possessed as much pro potential. Wetherby and Lombardi both played in the major leagues.

Adamczyk and Nickeas have scholarships to top colleges, so it will take large signing bonuses to lure them into the pros now. The 6-foot-5 Adamczyk signed with California. Nickeas, a four-year starter, signed with Georgia Tech.

"I want to play pro ball, that's my dream," Adamczyk said. "I don't want to put numbers on what it would take. All the scouts have been very nice. This has been an enjoyable experience."

So was the season, despite a sour ending. Westlake advanced to the Southern Section Division III final but lost to El Dorado, 9-0, Saturday at Dodger Stadium. None of that will affect the draft status of Adamczyk and Nickeas.

"Tyler started slow because he came off the basketball team, but he has shown the progress and maturity to make himself attractive," one scout said. "Nickeas has a great arm and a good feel for catching. College might be a better choice for him now, though."

Nationwide, there are many highly regarded high school pitchers, including Matt Harrington of Palmdale, who is back in the draft after failing to come to terms with the Colorado Rockies, who made him the seventh overall pick last year.

However, the talent in the region is thin. Pitchers Chris Seddon of Canyon and Kyle Wilson and Richie Martin of Valencia are prospects, but each has a scholarship and might not be signable.

Seddon, a left-hander who committed to Loyola Marymount, threw in the the low 90-mph range in December, but his velocity fell in the spring.

Wilson (UCLA) and Martin (UC Santa Barbara) are right-handers with live arms but little experience.

"Seddon went backward during the spring, but I buy into the kid," a scout said. "His arm and delivery are good, he just overtaxed himself."

Cal State Northridge shortstop J.T. Stotts, a junior from Hart High, is projected to be taken about the fourth round. Stotts is an excellent fielder with good speed and a strong bat.

Northridge right-hander Mike Frick, a hard-throwing Buena High product whose velocity tailed off late in the season, is the only other Matador certain to be drafted.

As many as eight players from Pepperdine will be drafted, beginning with left-handed pitcher Noah Lowry (14-2), a transfer from Ventura College who attended Nordhoff High. Lowry could go as high as late in the first round.

Right-handed pitcher Dan Haren and second baseman Dan Garcia are projected to go in the top five rounds. Outfielder Woody Cliffords, first baseman Jared Pitney, shortstop Tony Garcia, catcher Rock Mills and right-handed pitcher Jay Adams also should be drafted.

The Waves also could lose four top recruits: Right-handed pitchers Brandon League of St. Louis High in Hawaii and Dan Denham of Deer Valley High in Antioch are rated among the top 40 high school players in the nation. Infielder Bronson Sardinha of Kamahamaha High in Honolulu and catcher Nelson Caraballo of West Torrance are also highly regarded.

Northridge's top pitching recruit, right-hander Jacob Dittler of Green Valley, Nev., will be a high pick.

Late-round prospects from junior college include catcher Tony Cicero, outfielder Peter Gunny and right-handed pitcher Jesse Kozlowski of Pierce; first baseman Fernando Valenzuela and shortstop Jimmy Stone of Glendale; right-handed pitcher Jared Edrosolan of Moorpark and catcher Daniel Champieux of Canyons.

Three college players signed before the draft. Kurt Birkins of Pierce and El Camino Real High signed with the Baltimore Orioles, Tyler Johnson of Moorpark College and Newbury Park High signed with the St. Louis Cardinals and Brian Baron of UCLA and Hart High signed with the Minnesota Twins.

Other high school players expected to be drafted include right-handed pitcher Jered Weaver of Simi Valley and outfielder Bill Susdorf of Hart.

Weaver, brother of Detroit Tiger starter Jeff Weaver, went 6-4 and approached 90 mph. He signed with Long Beach State.

Susdorf, the Valley player of the year as a junior, batted .518 this season and is considered among the best hitters in the region. He has signed with UCLA.

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