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No. 2 overall pick aiming for 2001 All-Star Game
Posted: Wednesday June 02, 1999 10:03 PM
MIAMI (AP) -- The Florida Marlins nabbed the Josh they wanted with their highest pick ever in baseball's amateur draft.
They used the second overall pick in Wednesday's draft on right-handed power pitcher Josh Beckett of Spring, Texas, after the Tampa Bay Devil Rays selected the other highly touted Josh -- high school outfielder Josh Hamilton of Raleigh, N.C.
Beckett, 19, was a high school player of the year in Texas the past two seasons.
"That's the Josh we wanted," said Al Avila, Marlins director of scouting. "Beckett has good size and has an overpowering fastball. He's a bulldog on the mound."
Beckett, 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, has been compared to fellow Texan hurlers and his baseball idols, Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan, who he met at a banquet earlier this season.
"I ain't done nothing yet," Beckett said. "But I think one day, I'll live up to all of that. If someone told me different, I'd call them a liar. I think I'm going to be better than all those guys."
Ryan, baseball's career strikeout leader, has already been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Clemens, who has twice struck out a major league record 20 batters in one game, is expected to join Ryan someday.
Beckett is already thinking about Cooperstown.
"Hopefully, I'll join them in the Hall one day," he said.
Beckett is coming off a dominating senior season in which he finished 10-1 with a 0.46 ERA. He had 155 strikeouts and walked just 22 in 75 1/3 innings.
In Spring, a small town about 30 miles north of Houston, Beckett has been dubbed "Kid Heat" and the word "Phenom" is stenciled on his jacket. Beckett was named the No. 1 high school prospect in the country by Baseball America and he's set an ambitious timetable for making the parent club.
"I think I can get there in two years or as fast as Kerry Wood did," Beckett said. "I've got a couple of things to fine tune. After I get that taken care of, I'm ready. I think I can compete right now."
He has repeatedly predicted he'll pitch in the major league All-Star Game by 2001.
"You have to have some arrogance to be a pro pitcher," Beckett said. "My time has come and it's time for me to go as quick as possible if I can."
Beckett's fastball was clocked at 96 mph by Marlins scouts and he struck out 18 batters three times in seven-inning games, but Avila recoiled when he heard comparisons to Ryan and Clemens.
"The worst thing I could do now is put a label on him, so I don't want to do that because that kind of pressure he doesn't need," Avila said. "We hope we can develop him into a dominating pitcher, but you know things happen along the way."
Beckett, who also has a sharp breaking ball and a devastating change-up, has been working on adding a slider.
"You're talking about a pitcher who's much more advanced coming out of high school," said Marlins general manager Dave Dombrowski. "We're hopeful to get him signed as quickly as possible, but they're never easy at this point."
Of the 22 players selected by the Marlins in Wednesday's opening round, two were from Florida, including second-round pick Terence Byron, a right-handed pitcher from Indian River Community College in Fort Pierce.Also selected was left-handed pitcher Todd Moser, who grew up in nearby Fort Lauderdale and pitches for Florida Atlantic University, where he was 15-1 this season.
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