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Harrington Heading to Class, but Not for Long

Baseball: Right-handed pitcher from Palmdale will have a short wait when amateur draft starts Monday.


There's nothing to do now but sit, squirm and pass the time.

So excruciating. Especially for a ballplayer trained to make something happen, not wait for something to happen.

Matt Harrington can be certain only of this: By Monday afternoon, he won't be wondering what happened.

The Palmdale High senior will know which major league baseball team drafted him.

He'll know whether he became the first right-handed high school pitcher ever to be drafted No. 1 overall.

And he'll begin negotiations that undoubtedly will make him a millionaire, maybe three times over.

He describes his anticipation as similar to how he felt as a nine-year-old on Christmas Eve.

"This is one of most exciting things you can go through, but I'm not nervous," Harrington said. "I've worked for it and worked for it. I've done all I could this year. Now I'm just waiting."

Harrington plans to attend school Monday and figures he will be picked sometime during his third-period civics class.

"It's funny, I always want to get out of going to school, and on a day I could stay home, I want to go because I want to be with my friends," he said.

Harrington, whose fastball has been clocked at 97 mph, is a lock to be one of the first five picks, which would make him at least the highest draft pick from the region since Mike Lieberthal was taken No. 3 by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1990.

The highest a right-handed high school pitcher from the region has been drafted also is No. 3--Roger Salkeld of Saugus High by the Seattle Mariners in 1989.

The only player from the region to go No. 1 in the last 20 years was shortstop Kurt Stillwell of Thousand Oaks High, taken by the Cincinnati Reds in 1983.

The Florida Marlins hold the top pick but have talked to Harrington only once. The Minnesota Twins, who met with Harrington on Saturday, pick second and the Chicago Cubs pick third.

"Nobody has tried to cut a pre-draft deal with me," he said.

Harrington is one of several players from the region expected to be picked in the early rounds.

Sure Things

Dane Sardinha, catcher, Pepperdine: The draft is rich with quality catchers and Sardinha is acknowledged as the best defensively. His arm and athleticism are unquestioned. Scouts are split on his ability to hit, but he should be taken in the first half of the first round. Sardinha posted big numbers with the Waves but did not hit well in the wood bat Cape Cod League last summer while nursing a sore wrist.

Joe Borchard, outfielder, Stanford (Camarillo High): Drafted out of high school in the 20th round, Borchard has put together three consecutive sensational seasons for the Cardinal. Borchard might be the best athlete in the draft and will be a first-round pick. He has the option of signing, then returning to Stanford to play quarterback this fall, but probably would get a smaller signing bonus if he does so.

Bill Scott, outfielder, UCLA (Alemany High): Scott is one of the best hitters in the country, but his defensive skills are questionable. Expect him to be taken by an American League team, although he does not want to become a designated hitter. Scott, a tireless worker, is projected as an above-average hitter with average major league speed and power. He could go from the late first round to the fourth round.

Mike Schultz, right-handed pitcher, Loyola Marymount (Cleveland High): Schultz has been treading water since bursting on the college scene by being most valuable pitcher in the West Coast Conference as a freshman. His earned-run average was 5.50 this season and scouts point out few college pitchers with ERA's over 4.00 become successful major leaguers. Still, Schultz is 6 feet 7 and he throws 94 mph. He is no longer considered a first-round pick but should be picked soon after.

Matt Parris, right-handed pitcher, Highland High: Although Parris was injured last summer and missed Area Code Games exposure, he more than made up for it by pitching well in head-to-head competition with Harrington in front of dozens of scouts. Parris has a scholarship to UC Santa Barbara but is considered signable. Some scouts believe he could go as high as a compensation pick between the first and second rounds.

Jamie Shields, right-handed pitcher, Hart High. Last summer Shields was regarded as highly as Harrington. But a back injury sidelined him for much of the season, making it difficult for cross-checkers and scouting directors to evaluate him. Lately, Shields has come on. He hit 93 mph at a workout for scouts last week. Shields has a scholarship to Louisiana State, perhaps the nation's top program. A large-market team with a lot of picks such as the Atlanta Braves might take Shields and try to buy out the scholarship.

John Wilson, catcher, Kentucky (CSUN, L.A. Baptist). Originally a third baseman, Wilson flourished as a catcher after transferring when Northridge dropped baseball in 1997. Wilson has overcome being shot by his father and is a gifted hitter. Scouts project him as going in about the eighth or ninth round.

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