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Titans' Billingsley Signs With Florida

Baseball: One of the Big West's top pitchers, he was 11-2 with a 3.02 earned-run average.


FULLERTON — Cal State Fullerton sophomore pitcher Brent Billingsley has signed with the Florida Marlins, ending a brief but successful career with the Titans.

Billingsley transferred to Fullerton last fall from East Carolina after a lackluster 4-4 season as a redshirt freshman. At Fullerton, associate head coach George Horton taught him to throw a slider, and Billingsley rapidly developed into one of the Big West Conference's top pitchers. He was 11-2 with a 3.02 earned-run average.

Billingsley was eligible for this year's draft because of the redshirt year, and was selected in the fifth round. He had considered returning to Fullerton, but signed with Florida. Details were not disclosed, but indications are that Billingsley's signing bonus was in the $100,000 range.

"We think he'll be a fine pitcher for us," said Orrin Freeman, the Marlins' scouting director. "He's a left-hander, and you never have too many of them. He has enough fastball, a good changeup, and gets all his pitches over the plate."

Billingsley left Monday for an eight-day orientation at the Marlins' camp in Florida, and will be assigned to their rookie league team in Utica, N.Y. "We expect him to move up rapidly within our organization," Freeman said.

Former Titan pitcher Mike Parisi also is in the Marlins' organization. Parisi is 4-4 with with a 4.11 ERA with the Brevard City, Fla., Class-A team.

Titan shortstop Jack Jones, a junior drafted in the sixth round by the Dodgers, also signed, as expected. He had not received his minor league assignment as of Monday. Jones batted .248 over three seasons as a Titan starter, hitting .276 this season. He missed 10 games at midseason because of a hamstring injury.

Titan junior outfielder Jeremy Giambi, who passed up a pro contract with Detroit after his sophomore season, signed Monday night with Kansas City, which picked him in the sixth round. Giambi batted .396 with six home runs and 48 RBIs in 1996, his best season at Fullerton.

Junior reliever Luis Estrella, signed with San Francisco, which drafted him in the late rounds. Estrella was 3-1 with a 3.54 ERA this season after two years at Rancho Santiago College.

The Marlins will begin contract discussions with their first-round pick, Titan outfielder Mark Kotsay, Thursday in Millington, Tenn. Kotsay is with Team USA, preparing for the Atlanta Olympics.

In other draft news:

* Three Long Beach State players signed contracts over the weekend, according to 49er athletic department sources. Pitcher Steve Hueston was drafted in the 10th round by Kansas City, shortstop Jason Knupfer in the 13th by Philadelphia, and catcher Casey Snow in the 15th by the Dodgers.

* Tim DeCinces, a junior catcher at UCLA this spring, has signed with the Baltimore Orioles, the team reported. DeCinces, who graduated from Corona del Mar High, was assigned to Bluefield, W. Va., in the Appalachian League. He was drafted in the 16th round.

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