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Pitchers Dominate in Draft : Seven of First 12 Are Hurlers, Including Dodger, Angel Picks

June 02, 1988|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | Times Staff Writer

Seven of the first 12 picks were pitchers Wednesday when baseball's 3-day amateur draft began, including No. 1 selection Andy Benes from the University of Evansville by the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers and Angels both followed suit.

The Dodgers, picking fifth, selected Bill Bene, a right-hander from Cal State Los Angeles. Bene is a junior but his coach, John Herbold, said that the converted outfielder from Long Beach Jordan High School will almost definitely turn pro.

The Angels, with the eighth selection, took Jim Abbott, the one-handed pitcher from the University of Michigan who won the Sullivan Award this year as the top amateur athlete in America. Abbott, who was born without a right hand, was a star last summer at the Pan-American Games in Indianapolis. He also hopes to pitch for the Olympic team.

The only local player besides Bene taken in the first round--no other choices will be announced until June 9, and then only alphabetically by team--was shortstop Royce Clayton of St. Bernard High in Playa del Rey. The San Francisco Giants made him the 15th pick and the 5th high school athlete selected.

Scott Davison, a pitcher-shortstop who had an 18-1 record for Redondo this season and, like Clayton, had signed with USC, said he was picked by the Montreal Expos in the fourth round.

Benes, a 6-foot 5-inch right-hander, had a 16-3 record and a 1.42 earned-run average for Evansville this season.

The Cleveland Indians followed the Padres and, as expected, took high school shortstop Mark Lewis of Hamilton, Ohio, with pitcher Steve Avery from Kennedy High in Taylor, Mich., going third to the Atlanta Braves, and pitcher Gregg Olson from Auburn University fourth to the Baltimore Orioles.

The Dodgers then selected Bene--pronounced Ben-AY. Although Bene has a 94-m.p.h. fastball, wildness was has been a problem for him the last three years. In that time he has a 10-7 record and a 5.62 ERA, including 6-3 and 5.80 in 1988.

"But he's getting better," said Herbold, who had five players drafted last season and figures to have three or four this time. "Instead of being a couple feet outside, now he's only a couple inches."

"He throws real hard, but what most people don't realize is that he has really good movement on the ball. . . ."

After the Angels had picked, the Chicago Cubs selected Abbott's teammate on the Pan-Am team, infielder Ty Griffin of Georgia Tech, who hit a dramatic home run that beat Cuba. Next, the Chicago White Sox tabbed third baseman Robin Ventura of Oklahoma State, who set a National Collegiate Athletic Assn. record in 1987 with a 58-game hitting streak.

Ventura, from Santa Maria, Calif., was the second Oklahoma State player to go among the top 10, shortstop Monty Farris having been picked No. 6 by the Texas Rangers.

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