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COUNTY HIGH SCHOOLS

It's Draft Day Delirium for Pilkington

June 06, 2001|BEN BOLCH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Brian Pilkington's dream to surpass his uncle Bert Blyleven's 287 major league victories came one step closer to reality Tuesday when the Dodgers made the Santiago High pitcher their first selection with the 68th pick of baseball's amateur draft.

Pilkington was the first Orange County high school or college player drafted. Irvine High catcher Jon de Vries, selected in the third round by the Boston Red Sox, was the only other county high school player selected in the first 20 rounds.

Pilkington, who listened to an Internet simulcast of the draft with family members gathered in his living room, said he didn't expect to hear his name called until after the third round. But when he heard "Pilkington" blare over the speakers in the second round, madness ensued.

"We went nuts," said Pilkington, a 6-foot-5 right-hander who this season went 10-2 with a 0.90 earned-run average. "Everyone was just running around hugging and crying."

Pilkington said he couldn't even keep his composure when he spoke with Blyleven, who averaged 13 wins a year in a 22-year big-league career with Minnesota, Texas, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and the Angels.

"We were both crying on the phone," Pilkington said. "He said this is where my life begins. 'Get ready to go out and show them what you've got.' "

Pilkington is earnest about his aspiration to top his uncle's win total. "He had 287 wins," Pilkington said a few months ago. "I want 288, just so I can say I beat him."

Dodger scout Bob Darwin, a former teammate of Blyleven's with the Twins, said it was team policy not to comment on unsigned draftees. "But if he's anything like his uncle, which I think he's going to be, he's going to be very good," Darwin said.

The scout added that he had been instructed to begin negotiations with Pilkington "as soon as possible."

De Vries, the Irvine catcher, also was drafted higher than expected when the Red Sox made him the No. 93 selection. De Vries celebrated the moment with a group of friends who skipped school to gather around a computer in de Vries' home.

De Vries has signed with Louisiana State but said he will likely head straight to the minor leagues "if everything goes right in negotiations." de Vries this season hit .449 with six home runs and 29 runs batted in.

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