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Skipworth chosen sixth by Marlins

June 06, 2008|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

A couple of trends continued Thursday in the opening round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft.

The Florida Marlins selected Riverside Patriot High catcher Kyle Skipworth sixth overall, the second consecutive year the franchise chose a high school power hitter from the Southland with their first pick. (Last year it was third baseman Matt Dominguez of Chatsworth.)

The New York Yankees then chose Orange Lutheran pitcher Gerrit Cole 28th overall, marking the third time in the last five drafts the organization selected a hard-throwing right-hander from an Orange County high school.

The West Coast was also well represented at the college level, as six who played in the Pacific 10 Conference this season were chosen in the opening round.

Skipworth, a smooth-swinging left-handed hitter, was the first player chosen from Southern California. He batted .543 this spring, belting 13 home runs in 30 games and driving in 47 runs. During one stretch, he recorded a state-record 18 consecutive base hits, while reaching base safely in 25 straight plate appearances.

With about 30 friends and family watching from his living room, Skipworth said the house "erupted" when his named was called.

"I definitely was crossing my fingers," Skipworth said. "I had my hopes high for them and they came through, so I'm definitely ecstatic."

Skipworth worked out for the Marlins last month in Southern California. He also traveled to Washington last weekend to demonstrate his skills in front of the Nationals' front office. Washington had the No. 9 pick. His goal was to be drafted among the top 10 overall.

"I definitely nailed it," he said. "I just tried to put myself in a spot where teams wouldn't or couldn't pass me up, and I feel that I did that."

Baseball America ranked Cole as the No. 17 prospect in the nation, so he went later than expected.

With a fastball routinely clocked in the low- to- mid-90s, he had been mentioned as a high first rounder for much of the season, but mechanical flaws in his delivery and his selection of Scott Boras as an advisor caused some teams to pass. Boras is known for his high asking price.

The Yankees selected Phil Hughes of Santa Ana Foothill High with their top pick in 2004 and last season chose Ian Kennedy out of USC (and Westminster La Quinta High) in the first round. Both made their major league debuts last season.

Another Southland high school player selected in the first round was Aaron Hicks of Long Beach Wilson, who went No. 14 overall to the Minnesota Twins. Hicks is a speedy center fielder but can also throw in the low 90s as a pitcher. Two years ago, the Twins selected Chino Hills outfielder Chris Parmelee with their No. 1 pick.

Chino Hills had another outfielder that was projected to be drafted in the first round, but Zach Collier was among the supplemental picks between the first and second rounds, going No. 34 overall to the Phillies.

The college players selected in the first round included Jason Castro, a catcher from Stanford who went No. 10 overall to Houston; Brett Wallace, a third baseman from Arizona State who went No. 13 to St. Louis; David Cooper, a first baseman from California who went No. 17 to Toronto; David Isaacs, a first baseman from Arizona State who went No. 18 to the New York Mets; Ryan Perry, a right-handed pitcher from Arizona who went No. 21 to Detroit and Daniel Schlereth, a left-handed pitcher from Arizona who went No. 26 to Arizona.

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Times staff writer Eric Sondheimer contributed to this report.

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dan.arritt@latimes.com

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