Work in Sports
Head of the class
Marlins take HS star Gonzalez with top pick in draft
NEW YORK (CNNSI.com) -- The pitching-rich Florida Marlins added a power-hitting prospect with the first overall pick of the 2000 baseball draft.
The Marlins, who have top pitching prospects throughout their organization, selected the sweet-swinging Adrian Gonzalez out of Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, Calif.
Gonzalez, a 6-foot-2 left-handed hitter, hit .645 with 13 home runs and 34 RBIs his senior season. Alex Rodriguez was the last high school infielder selected No. 1 (in 1993).
Gonzalez displayed his power by belting several home runs at Pro Player Stadium during a batting practice session held shortly after the draft.
"We all agreed that Adrian Gonzalez was the best hitting prospect available in this year's draft," Marlins scouting director Al Avila said. "Every time I went to see him, he hit. He definitely possesses the best pure stroke in this year's draft."
Said Gonzalez: "It's a thrill. It's a dream come true. I've wanted to play professional baseball since I can remember."
Cal State Fullerton right-hander Adam Johnson was taken by Minnesota with the second pick. Shortstop Luis Montanez from Coral Park High School in Miami was then selected by the Chicago Cubs. Mike Stodolka, a left-hander from Centennial High School in California, was taken by Kansas City with the fourth pick. Montreal then selected right-hander Justin Wayne from Stanford.
A number of players with famous fathers figured prominently in the first few rounds.
Arizona State right-hander Jason Fingers, son of Hall of Fame reliever Rollie Fingers, was selected by Kansas City with the 284th pick. The New York Yankees took Michigan catcher David Parrish, son of Lance Parrish, with the 28th pick, and Atlanta claimed Pennsylvania high school shortstop Aaron Herr, son of infielder Tom Herr, with the 40th pick.
San Francisco selected Florida Southern infielder Lance Niekro, son of knuckleballer Joe Niekro, with the 61st pick and then took Cuesta College right-hander Kyle Gross, son of pitcher Wayne Gross, with the 151st selection.
Among other selections of note, California third baseman Xavier Nady, at one time considered the favorite to be selected No. 1 overall, dropped to the second round as San Diego made him the 49th pick.
Other expected first-rounders who lasted until the second round included first baseman Jason Stokes from Coppell High School in Texas, who was taken 41st by Florida; San Francisco first baseman Taggert Bozied, taken No. 42 by Minnesota; Pepperdine catcher Dane Sardinha, selected 46th by Cincinnati; and Stanford righty Jason Young, taken with the 47th pick by Colorado.
With Detroit's selection of right-hander Matt Wheatland with the eighth pick and catcher Ben Heard's selection at No. 25 by San Diego, the Rancho Bernardo High School players from California became the third set of first-round high school teammates.
In 1972, Mike Odina and Jerry Manuel, the current manager of the Chicago White Sox, were drafted out of Rancho Cordova High School in California; and Michael Cuddyer and John Curtice of Great Bridge High School in Virginia were first-round selections in 1997.
Bobby Hill, the former Miami shortstop drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the supplemental round last year but couldn't come to a contract agreement, was drafted by the Cubs in the second round.
Gonzalez worked out for the Marlins 10 times in March, and was told that Florida wanted to take him with the first pick in the second round.
But he soared up the team's chart in recent weeks, and Florida was confident it could sign him. Gonzalez agreed to a $3 million signing bonus -- the third-highest for a high school player -- before the draft.
"It takes a lot of pressure off your back," Gonzalez said.
"He wanted to play baseball, but he wanted something fair," agent John Boggs said. "He was the one in the family who drove the negotiations. This is a baseball family. They just want the opportunity to play baseball."
Johnson was 7-4 with a 2.72 ERA and six complete games for Cal State Fullerton. He is the Titans' career strikeout leader with 365 and set the season record this year with 166.
Montanez, an outstanding defensive player with a strong arm and smooth throwing motion, hit .431 with seven homers and 25 RBIs at Coral Park High School in Miami.
Stodolka went 10-0 with a 0.67 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 52 innings at Centennial High School.
Wayne, the Pac-10 co-pitcher of the year, has been compared to former Cardinal ace Mike Mussina. He's a polished pitcher who throws four pitches for strikes and takes a 30-4 career record into the College World Series, which starts Friday.
Rocco Baldelli, an outfielder from Bishop Hendricken High School in Rhode Island, was taken by Tampa Bay with the sixth pick. Colorado took high school right-hander Matt Harrington with the seventh pick. Harrington, from Palmdale High School in California, was generally considered the top high school pitcher in the nation.
The Tigers then selected Wheatland. High school left-hander Mark Phillips, from Hanover High School in Pennsylvania, was taken ninth by San Diego. Anaheim took left-hander Joe Torres from Gateway High School in Florida to round out the top 10.
Oakland and Arizona didn't pick until the second round, and Seattle waited until the fourth round -- at No. 116 -- to make a pick.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.