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Archive for Friday, June 6, 1997

JAYHAWKS LYONS, DEMARCO DRAFTED

June 6, 1997

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Last year's amateur baseball draft lured four players away from Kansas University.

This year's draft might not have any effect on the Jayhawks of '98.

As of late Thursday night, only two KU players -- pitcher Tim Lyons and shortstop Joe DeMarco -- had heard they had been drafted, and both used up their eligibility this spring.

Lyons was picked by the Atlanta Braves in the 36th round. DeMarco was drafted by the San Diego Padres, but neither DeMarco nor KU coach Bobby Randall knew which round.

Last year, four players with KU ties were drafted high enough to keep them away from Mt. Oread this spring. High schoolers Damian Rolls and Jim Terrell had signed letters of intent with Kansas but turned pro instead. Outfielder Isaac Byrd and pitcher Mario Opipari turned pro and eschewed their senior seasons at Kansas.

"This is nothing like last year," Randall said. "Last year, we were sweating it."

Kansas' two draftees this spring were sweating it, too.

"I'm excited to hear I was picked up, but I'm still waiting for details," said Lyons, a right-hander from Mission Viejo, Calif. "I was just hoping to go somewhere. I heard some people were interested, but I didn't expect anything. Now I'm totally excited. It's a dream come true."

For DeMarco, it was a nightmare. As of late Thursday, he still hadn't heard directly from the Padres. Teammate Casey Barrett broke the news.

"Casey called me (Thursday) morning. He was like, 'What's wrong with you?' I said I didn't get drafted. He said, 'Yes you did,'" DeMarco said from his Tamarac, Fla., home. "I'm just glad I'm getting a chance to go play. I know they've got a pretty good organization. I'm just looking forward to playing."

Padres officials, unable to reach DeMarco, called Randall at the KU baseball office, but they were short on details.

This much KU's draftees do know: DeMarco, the Floridian, is likely headed to California for his first minor league assignment, while Lyons, the Californian, is likely headed for Florida.

"That's kind of funny," Lyons said. "We were roommates in school. Now he's going from one coast to the other, and I'm going the other way."

Lyons was 3-4 with a 5.23 earned run average as a senior. DeMarco led the Big 12 Conference with his .429 batting average.

Two other KU draft hopefuls -- outfielder-first baseman Justin Headley and pitcher Josh Wingerd, both seniors -- said they had not yet been contacted.

Headley, from Bartlett, Tenn., said he had talked with the St. Louis Cardinals and might join them as a free agent. Wingerd, from Hood River, Ore., said he had talked to Atlanta about a free-agent deal and might attend a workout with the Kansas City Royals this weekend.

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