Mike Lieberthal wasted no time after the Philadelphia Phillies selected him Monday morning with the third pick overall in the amateur draft. He signed a contract early in the afternoon.
Lieberthal, a 6-foot, 165-pound catcher from Westlake High, will receive an estimated bonus of $250,000 and an additional $40,000 reimbursement if he pursues a college education--which he said he will do in the off-season at a school in the area.
Other area players drafted Monday included Patrick Bryant of Cleveland High (Cleveland Indians) and Joey Rosselli of Alemany (Giants), both second-round selections. Danny Larson of Birmingham was a third-round pick by the Phillies and Garret Anderson of Kennedy went to the Angels in either the third or fourth.
Lieberthal, who hit .448 with 13 home runs and 43 runs batted in, was considered the third best high school prospect by Baseball America magazine. He was one of Collegiate Baseball magazine's 17 high school All-Americans.
"I had heard I was going to be picked third, but I wasn't real sure," Lieberthal said. "I've been anticipating this for so long, but I just wasn't sure what was going to happen."
The speculation ended Monday at 10:30 a.m., when a Phillies' representative phoned Lieberthal, who took the day off from school.
"It's a dream come true," Lieberthal said. "I wanted to go to the Phillies because I knew they didn't have any catching in their organization."
Lieberthal, heralded for possessing defensive skills that are as strong as his powerful swing, will report June 15 to the Phillies' Appalachian Rookie League affiliate in Martinsville, Virginia. He graduates from Westlake June 14.
Lieberthal tied a Southern Section record with four home runs in a 15-5 win over Simi Valley on April 4 at Westlake. He struggled through a late-season slump that included a 1-for-12 effort in the Southern Section 5-A Division playoffs.
Some professional scouts speculated that Lieberthal's projected order in the draft dropped along with his numbers. Others stood by their predictions that Lieberthal was a top prospect and will be playing major league baseball within four years.
"I'm just glad the waiting is over," Lieberthal said. "They told me just to go out and play my game and things will work out."
Lieberthal, one of 16 high school players chosen, is the second area player in the past two drafts who was selected third overall. Roger Salkeld of Saugus was taken third by Seattle last year.
Chipper Jones, a shortstop from The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla., was taken No. 1 by Atlanta. El Cajon Christian's Tony Clark was chosen second by Detroit.
Bryant, who has signed a letter of intent to play football at Hawaii, will visit today with Indians' representatives. He has signed a letter of intent to play football at Hawaii.
Rosselli has signed a letter of intent with Arizona State to play quarterback but he said he would rather play baseball. "If the money is decent, I'm leaning toward signing," he said. "Baseball is my No. 1 sport."