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Archive for Wednesday, June 6, 2001

Twins pick hometown catcher No. 1

Mauer tickled to go to Minnesota; Prior selected by Cubs with second pick

June 6, 2001

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— The Minnesota Twins made one of their biggest fans a major part of their future.

Joe Mauer, a left-handed hitting high school catcher from Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, Minn., was taken by the Twins with the No. 1 pick in Tuesday's baseball draft.

"I followed Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett and all those guys," the 18-year-old Mauer said. "This is kind of a fairy tale."

Mauer, a right-handed thrower, joined Danny Goodwin (Chicago White Sox, 1971) and David Clyde (Texas, 1973) as the only players to be chosen by their home state teams with the No. 1 pick.

"We've had a chance to follow him for the past three or four years," Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan said. "We know a lot about his makeup and skill level. This is a natural for the Minnesota Twins. I don't know if you could write a better script."

Southern California right-hander Mark Prior, considered by some as the greatest college pitcher ever, was taken by the Chicago Cubs with the second pick.

Next, Tampa Bay selected Middle Tennessee State right-hander Dewon Brazelton; Philadelphia took high school right-hander Gavin Floyd; and Georgia Tech third baseman Mark Teixeira was chosen by Texas with the fifth pick.

Rolando Viera, a Cuban pitcher who was denied a request for free agency Monday, was drafted in the seventh round by Boston with the 213th pick.

Alan Gura, one of Viera's attorneys, told Judge James Whittemore that entering Viera in the draft would force the pitcher to consider leaving the United States with no assurances of being allowed to return. But the judge disagreed.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Mauer was a standout in baseball, basketball and football, and has accepted a scholarship to play quarterback at Florida State.

"Right now, I just want to enjoy this," said Mauer, the first catcher drafted with the top pick since Milwaukee took B.J. Surhoff in 1985. He hit .605 with 14 homers and 46 RBIs this season.

Prior, 14-1 with a 1.50 ERA, had a school- and Pac-10 conference-record 189 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 131 2-3 innings for the College World Series-bound Trojans. Some scouts think the 6-5, 220-pound Prior could be an effective major league pitcher right now.

With the sixth overall pick, Montreal took UCLA right-hander Josh Karp, who was impressive with Team USA last summer.

Next, Baltimore took Chris Smith, a left-hander from Cumberland University in Tennessee, who helped lead Florida State to the College World Series last season as an outfielder.

John VanBenschoten, a right-handed pitcher and first baseman from Kent State who led the country with 31 home runs, went to Pittsburgh with the eighth pick.

Colt Griffin, a right-hander from Marshall High School in Texas was taken with the ninth pick by Kansas City.

Houston selected Tennessee infielder Chris Burke, the Southeastern Conference player of the year, with the 10th pick. He broke Todd Helton's school records for career hits, runs scored.

Rice right-hander Kenny Baugh was drafted by Detroit with the 11th pick. Next, Milwaukee took right-hander Mike Jones from Thunderbird H.S. in Arizona.

Casey Kotchman, the son of Anaheim minor league manager and scout Tom Kotchman, was selected out of Seminole H.S. in Florida by the Angels with the 13th pick.

Tulane third baseman Jake Gautreau, who had a Division I-leading 91 RBIs, was taken by San Diego with the 14th pick.

Auburn outfielder Gabe Gross went to Toronto with the 15th pick. Kris Honel, a righty from Providence Catholic H.S. in Illinois, was taken next by the Chicago White Sox. Cleveland selected right-hander Dan Denham from Deer Valley H.S. in California with the 17th pick.

The New York Mets took Notre Dame right-hander Aaron Heilman next. Baltimore selected Louisiana State second baseman Mike Fontenot with the 19th pick. Left-hander Jeremy Sowers, from Ballard H.S. in Kentucky, was the 20th pick by Cincinnati.

Youngstown State right-hander Brad Hennessey went to San Francisco with the next pick. Arizona chose Valdosta State righty Jason Bulger with the 22nd pick. Florida State outfielder John-Ford Griffin went to the Yankees at No. 23. Left-hander Macay McBride, from Screven County H.S. in Georgia, was selected next by Atlanta.

Oakland took Long Beach State shortstop Bobby Crosby and high school right-hander Jeremy Bonderman with consecutive picks. Bonderman, a junior from Pasco H.S. in Washington, declared for the draft and was granted eligibility because he is 18 and has a GED.

Cleveland took right-hander Alan Horne, from Marianna H.S. in Florida, with the 27th pick. Next, St, Louis selected Central Florida right-hander Justin Pope. Atlanta took shortstop Josh Burrus from Wheeler H.S. in Georgia, with the 29th pick. Pepperdine lefty Noah Lowry was taken by San Francisco with the last pick of the first round.

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