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For Devil Rays, Young Is No. 1

Power-hitting Camarillo High star is top overall selection in baseball draft, making him and Dmitri the first brothers taken in top five.

June 04, 2003|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

Delmon Young made an impression on major league scouts well before he played his first baseball game at Camarillo High.

Fresh out of eighth grade, he put on a prodigious power display in a home-run hitting contest against high school players during a Southland scouting showcase in 1999.

On Tuesday, all the projections that followed Young during the last four years came to fruition when the Tampa Bay Devil Rays selected him with the first pick in the major league draft.

"This is a special bat, a special power bat. Any time that one of these players comes along, it makes your eyes light up," said Cam Bonifay, Tampa Bay's scouting director.

Young, 17, is the brother of Detroit Tiger outfielder Dmitri Young, who was the No. 4 pick overall in the 1991 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. The Youngs are the first brothers taken in the first five picks in the draft.

Delmon, 6 feet 3 inches, 205 pounds, is the first Southland player to be chosen No. 1 since the Houston Astros selected infielder Phil Nevin out of Cal State Fullerton in 1992. He is the first Southland high school player to be taken first since the New York Mets made Darryl Strawberry the top pick in 1980.

Young was at home with family and friends when he learned of his selection on Major League Baseball's Web site. Dmitri was on hand because the Tigers are playing an interleague series at San Diego.

"It was like the NCAA [basketball tournament] selection show or something -- everyone started jumping up and down and going crazy," Delmon said.

Young batted .542 with 17 home runs as a junior and helped lead Camarillo to its first Southern Section Division I title.

Young missed the first six weeks of his senior season because of a sprained ankle, but still batted .541 with seven homers while receiving 30 intentional walks. He increased his stock with extraordinary power displays during pre-draft workouts at major league stadiums.

The Devil Rays selected Young over Southern University second baseman Rickie Weeks, who was taken second by the Milwaukee Brewers.

"He should develop into a fine major league hitter," Devil Ray Manager Lou Piniella said of Young. "With his brother at the big league level, the genes already are good."

Last year's top pick, pitcher Bryan Bullington, received a $4-million bonus when he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

After Young and Weeks were selected the Detroit Tigers chose Wake Forest pitcher Kyle Sleeth third, the San Diego Padres took Richmond pitcher Tim Stauffer fourth and the Kansas City Royals chose high school outfielder Chris Lubanski fifth.

Four other players with Southern California ties were selected in the first round. Third baseman Ian Stewart of Westminster La Quinta High was chosen 10th by the Colorado Rockies. California third baseman Conor Jackson, who played at Woodland Hills El Camino Real High, was taken 19th by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cal State Fullerton pitcher Chad Cordero 20th by the Montreal Expos, and Huntington Beach Marina High catcher Daric Barton 28th by the Cardinals.

The Angels chose Arizona high school shortstop Brandon Wood with the 23rd selection and the Dodgers picked Ohio high school pitcher Chad Billingsley 24th.

Eight Southland players were selected in the second round: Cal State Fullerton outfielder Shane Costa (Kansas City, 42nd); Riverside Poly High pitcher JoJo Reyes (Atlanta, 43rd); Long Beach State pitcher Abe Alvarez (Boston, 49th); Long Beach State catcher Todd Jennings (San Francisco, 55th); Placentia El Dorado High shortstop Jeff Flaig (Seattle, 56th); The Master's College outfielder Jerry Owens (Montreal, 57th); Cal Lutheran University pitcher Jason Hirsh (Houston, 59th); and Covina Charter Oak High pitcher Chuck Tiffany (Dodgers, 61st).

The sons of several former major league players were chosen in the first 12 rounds, including San Diego State outfielder Anthony Gwynn, the son of Tony Gwynn, who was taken by Milwaukee in the second round with the 39th pick.

USC pitcher Brian Bannister, son of Floyd Bannister, was taken in the seventh round by the Mets. Nevada Las Vegas first baseman Fernando Valenzuela Jr., son of Fernando Valenzuela, was chosen in the 10th round by San Diego. North Carolina State outfielder Joe Gaetti, son of Gary Gaetti, was taken in the 12th round by Colorado.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Baseball Draft

A look at the first 10 players chosen in the baseball amateur draft on Tuesday:

1. TAMPA BAY...Delmon Young

Outfielder,

Camarillo HS

2. MILWAUKEE...Rickie Weeks

Second baseman,

Southern University

3. DETROIT...Kyle Sleeth

RH pitcher,

Wake Forest

4. SAN DIEGO...Tim Stauffer

RH pitcher,

Richmond

5. KANSAS CITY...Chris Lubanski

Outfielder, Kennedy-Kenrick HS,

Schwenksville, Pa.

6. CHICAGO (NL)...Ryan Harvey

Outfielder, Dunedin HS,

Palm Harbor, Fla.

7. BALTIMORE...Nick Markakis

LH pitcher,

Young Harris (Ga.) JC

8. PITTSBURGH...Paul Maholm

LH pitcher,

Mississippi St.

9. TEXAS...John Danks

LH pitcher,

Round Rock (Texas) HS

10. COLORADO...Ian Stewart

Third baseman,

La Quinta HS, Westminster

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Associated Press contributed to this report.

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