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Pair Drafted in 1st Round

Baseball: Kennedy's Garland taken 10th by Cubs; Northridge's Kennedy picked 20th by Cardinals.

June 04, 1997|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The major-league draft is notorious for surprises. Teams take flyers on unpolished high school kids and avoid talented players affiliated with certain aggressive agents. Expect the unexpected.

But in the first round?

The expected: Jon Garland of Kennedy High was the 10th player selected, going to the Chicago Cubs. The 6-foot-5 right-hander with the blazing fastball was projected to be picked precisely where he was chosen.

Even by him.

"I had a feeling for a month or so it would be the Cubs," Garland said. "I can't explain why. The feeling was just there."

The unexpected: Cal State Northridge shortstop Adam Kennedy was the St. Louis Cardinals' first pick and the 20th selection overall. Kennedy was rated by Baseball American magazine as the 96th-best prospect.

"I'm trying not to get too excited," Kennedy said. "They made the right choice. But I still have to go out and do the job."

Doing a stellar job at Northridge raised his stock. Kennedy, the first Matador to be taken in the first round of the regular June draft, led the nation in hits for the second year in a row and batted .482 with 26 home runs.

Next come more numbers--ones with dollar signs preceding them. Last season, the 20th pick signed for a bonus of $775,000.

Virtually assured of becoming a millionaire is Garland, who is certain to pass on his scholarship to USC and sign with the Cubs. Eric Chavez, a high school infielder drafted 10th last year, was bought out of his USC scholarship by the Oakland Athletics for $1.14 million.

Jim Parque, a UCLA left-handed pitcher who attended Crescenta Valley High, was taken by the Chicago White Sox between the first and second rounds with the 46th overall pick, one of 21 so-called sandwich picks awarded teams as compensation for signing free agents.

Drafted in the second round were three more pitchers from the area: Randy Wolf (Pepperdine, El Camino Real High) went to the Philadelphia Phillies with the 54th pick; Jeff Weaver (Fresno State, Simi Valley High) was taken by the White Sox with the 68th pick; and Sean Douglass (Antelope Valley High) was picked by the Baltimore Orioles with the 73rd pick.

All three were somewhat disappointed at missing out on the big money first-round picks will get in signing bonuses.

"I thought I'd do better than that, to tell you the truth," Weaver said. "It's a situation I'll deal with. I'm happy the White Sox are the ones who chose me.

Weaver, a 6-4 right-hander who led the nation with 181 strikeouts, is considered one of the college pitchers closest to being ready for the major leagues. However, his agent is Scott Boras, notorious for being a tough negotiator.

"Boras has followed me for two years, and I figured he'd be the best guy for me because he showed me the most support," Weaver said.

Wolf was projected as a late first-round pick before the season and did nothing to hurt his standing, going 9-4 with a 1.79 earned-run average. He was the second choice in the second round.

"It was a good thing that I went into it without any real expectations," Wolf said. "I'm disappointed, not with the team, but where I went. These kind of things I have no control over. All I have contol over is playing well."

Douglass, a 6-5 right-hander, heard the news minutes before rushing off to a Spanish final. He was pleased to be taken by the Orioles, whose Southern California scout, Gil Kubski, was Douglass' scout team coach last fall.

"I'm happy to be with the Orioles," Douglass said. "Gil is more of a friend than a scout to me."

Douglass quit the Antelope Valley team with a week left in the season because of a dispute with Coach Ed t'Sas over doing pushups. The episode might have hurt his status.

"After the thing that happened in high school, this is about where I thought I'd go," he said. "But if that hadn't have happened, I thought I was a first-round guy."

Kubski believes the Orioles got first-round talent as well. Douglass has a scholarship to Pepperdine, but he probably will turn professional.

"I feel we were very lucky," Kubski said. "Nationwide this was a pretty good draft and it enabled somebody of Sean's ability to slide a bit.

"It will be interesting when Mr. Garland and Mr. Douglass go toe-to-toe in the big leagues in a few years."

They might find another tall pitcher from the area there with them. Mike Schultz, a 6-7 right-hander from Cleveland High who improved drastically late in the season, was taken in the eighth round by the Phillies.

Picked before Schultz was Westlake catcher Chris Parker, by the Detroit Tigers in the sixth round. The Tigers' area scout is Dennis Lieberthal, whose son, Mike, is a former Westlake catcher playing for the Phillies.

Parker (6-2, 190 pounds) has a scholarship to Oklahoma, but Lieberthal likes the Tigers' chances of signing him.

"He's signable where we drafted him," Lieberthal said. "He has an above-average arm; he's very good behind the plate. He has a great body. He's an all-muscle type kid."

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