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Baseball Draft

My Josh!

Rays take Hamilton with top pick; Beckett to Marlins

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Posted: Wednesday June 02, 1999 08:57 PM

  Tampa Bay chose high school outfielder Josh Hamilton, who hit .514 with 13 homers and 36 RBIs this season. AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Devil Rays scouted Josh Hamilton for three years, and on Wednesday, they got their man.

Hamilton, an outfielder from Athens Drive High School in North Carolina, became the first high school player drafted No. 1 since the Seattle Mariners chose Alex Rodriguez in 1993.

"We've seen him over the last three years and we believe Josh Hamilton was the finest player in the draft this year," Tampa Bay general manager Chuck LaMar said.

Right-hander Josh Beckett, from Spring High School in Texas, was taken by Florida with the second pick. Detroit selected Southern California catcher Eric Munson with the third pick. Arizona then chose shortstop Corey Myers from Desert Vista High School in nearby Scottsdale. Minnesota chose outfielder B.J. Garbe, from Moses Lake High School in Washington with the fifth pick.

Hamilton, who is 6-foot-4 with size 19 feet, is an outstanding hitter projected to be a right fielder, even though he has a 94 mph fastball. He hit .514 with a school-record 13 homers and 36 RBIs this season, and is also regarded as a sound defensive player.

"I guess not going No. 1 wouldn't have totally destroyed me," Hamilton said. "But there's prestige going No. 1, and I'm certainly happy to be No. 1."

While signing players has caused some teams serious heartache -- the infamous Philadelphia-J.D. Drew saga is a recent example -- Hamilton would like to get on the field soon.

"I want to get that done pretty fast," Hamilton said. "I'll leave that up to my advisors to handle. I just want to play ball."

Beckett was the first high school righty taken as high as second since Bill Gullickson in 1979. He was 13-2 with an 0.39 ERA and 178 strikeouts in 89 innings this season.

Beckett, also 6-4, impressed scouts with a fastball that hits the mid-90s consistently, and a lively curveball.

"Being a first-round pick in the draft is the main thing. That's always been my dream," Beckett said. "It's not about being the first or even the second. It's about being a first-round pick."

Munson, who will be playing in the NCAA's super regionals against Stanford starting Friday, is hitting .338 with 14 homers and 40 RBIs. The left-handed power hitter missed 21 games because of a broken hand midway through the season, but picked up where he left off.

Myers hit .560 and set an Arizona high school record with 22 homers.

Garbe hit .500 with six homers and 22 RBIs this season. Garbe, a two-sport star, was the first high school quarterback in the state to run and pass for over 1,000 yards.

Montreal selected left-hander Josh Girdley from Jasper High School in Texas with the sixth pick. Girdley struck out 29 in 10 innings earlier this season.

With the seventh pick, Kansas City chose North Carolina right-hander Kyle Snyder. Pittsburgh, picking eighth, went with high school right-hander Bobby Bradley, who threw seven one-hitters this season for Wellington High School in Florida and was 12-1 with an 0.38 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 92 innings.

Oakland took Southern California left-hander Barry Zito, who had three 16-strikeout games this season, with the ninth pick. Milwaukee selected Northeast Louisiana right-hander Ben Sheets (14-1), who had a 20-strikeout game against Louisiana Tech.

Baltimore, which had four first-round picks, took Clemson right-hander Mike Paradis with the 13th pick, left-hander Richard Stahl from Newton High School in Georgia with the 18th pick, Ball State outfielder Larry Bigbie with the 21st pick and Providence outfielder Keith Reed with the 23rd.

San Diego, with three first-rounders, took outfielder Vince Faison from Toombs County High School in Georgia with the 20th pick; Gerik Baxter, a right-hander from Edmonds-Woodway High School in Washington with the 28th; and right-hander Omar Ortiz from Texas-Pan American with the 29th.

The Chicago Cubs, with the 26th pick, took Wichita State right-hander Ben Christensen, who was suspended by the Missouri Valley Conference for hitting Evansville's Anthony Molina in the head with a warmup pitch before a game April 23.

The pitch cut Molina over the left eye, broke his cheekbone and may have caused permanent damage. Before the suspension, Christensen was 9-1 with a 2.40 ERA.

"I know he regrets the whole thing happening," Cubs general manager Ed Lynch said. "In our judgment, he's an outstanding young man."

Anaheim, Atlanta, Cleveland and the New York Mets had no first-round picks.

Related information
CNN/SI's coverage of the 1999 MLB amateur draft
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