Baseball draft provides highlights for Missouri, Missouri State

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Baseball's amateur draft doesn't draw nearly the kind of publicity and attention that football and basketball drafts do.

Still, I always get a kick out of following the baseball draft every year.

I enjoy sitting at the computer and seeing the names pop up on the screen throughout the 50 rounds of the annual two-day affair, which took place Tuesday and Wednesday.

What never ceases to intrigue me about baseball's draft is the fact players are picked from just about everywhere in the country -- from the largest universities to the smallest colleges, from the biggest cities to the tiniest towns -- which proves that if you're talented enough, scouts will find you no matter where you are.

Sometimes, there are interesting local angles to the draft, like in 2004, when two Southeast Missouri high school products were taken in the first five rounds. Sikeston infielder Blake DeWitt went to the Dodgers in the first round and Advance pitcher Garrett Broshuis, by way of Missouri, went to the Giants in the fifth round.

There was nothing like that this year, but there was a fairly unusual regional angle as two state universities had players go in the first round.

Missouri pitcher Max Scherzer was taken by the Diamondbacks with the 11th pick, and Missouri State pitcher Brett Sinkbeil went to the Marlins at No. 19. Both selections represented the highest ever for their respective schools.

Missouri, in fact, had four other pitchers drafted along with a position player, all going in the top 24 rounds.

No wonder the Tigers were ranked 10th nationally in the preseason, although they had a fairly disappointing campaign before rallying late to squeeze into the NCAA tournament and win a regional title.

Closer to home, Southern Illinois had two players drafted, led by pitcher Tyler Norrick -- a Festus High School product -- who went to the Cardinals in the sixth round. Outfielder Grant Gerrard was taken by the Rangers in the seventh round.

As for the Ohio Valley Conference, one year after having no players drafted, the league had just one player taken. But that was a fairly high pick, as Eastern Kentucky first baseman Charlie Yarbrough -- the OVC player of the year -- went to the Phillies in the seventh round.

Another OVC product, Austin Peay pitcher Rowdy Hardy, signed a fifth-year senior contract with the Royals a couple of weeks prior to the draft.

Southeast Missouri State had nobody drafted for the third straight year after having selections for several seasons in a row prior to that.

In a generally rocky year for the Redhawks, they can at least take some solace in the fact they beat Missouri two out of three games.

Considering all the players the Tigers had drafted -- and their excellent postseason showing, which led to them playing at Cal State Fullerton over the weekend in the NCAA Super Regionals -- what Southeast was able to pull off has become even more impressive.

Vianney High School in suburban St. Louis recently won its second Class 4 state baseball title in the past three years thanks in large part to a nice Southeast connection.

The Griffins coach is Steve Bieser, a Ste. Genevieve product and a former Southeast standout -- he completed his eligibility in 1989 -- who had a lengthy professional career that included parts of two seasons in the major leagues.

Bieser coached Vianney to the state title in 2004 as well.

The Griffins were led this year by two Southeast recruits.

Left-handed pitcher Josh Syberg capped a 21-2 varsity career by winning this year's state semifinal game. Syberg was the winner in the 2004 state title contest.

Jim Klocke, more noted at Vianney for his hitting, went the distance on the mound during the Griffins' 3-1, eight-inning victory over Hazelwood Central in this year's championship game.

Southeast coach Mark Hogan told me he believes Syberg and Klocke both have a chance to be contributors for the Redhawks as freshmen next year.

A recruit Hogan won't have the services of next season --and one he was really counting on -- is former North County High School standout Adam Howard.

Howard, a two-year star at Meramec Community College both as an infielder and pitcher, recently signed with the Marlins. He was taken in the 33rd round of the 2005 draft, and Florida retained his rights until this year's draft.

Howard was no doubt one of the Redhawks' most touted recruits in the past several years -- but he'll never wear a Southeast uniform.

Kudos to two of my favorite tennis partners for winning championships during last weekend's 16th annual Ed Nunnelee Memorial Tennis Tournament in Sikeston.

Jackson residents Shane Anderson and Kim Anderson captured the men's and women's open singles titles.

Shane has long been known as arguably the area's premier player, while his cousin, Kim, recently completed her junior season as a member of the Southeast women's tennis team.

It's a great day for me if I can take a game or two off Shane. He's that good. I fare a little better against Kim, but sometimes not much. She's also a fine player.

But before you think I'm a total hack on the court, I do occasionally have my moments. They're just not as frequent as they used to be, which I guess is the price we all pay for growing older.

Congratulations and good luck to Kyle Gerdeman, who was recently named the head men's basketball coach at Moberly (Mo.) Community College.

Gerdeman is a Southeast graduate who spent the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons as a student manager/assistant coach, during Ron Shumate's final year and Gary Garner's first year.

Gerdeman has coached in the Missouri junior college ranks since leaving Southeast, including one year as the head coach at East Central in 2000-01. He was an assistant at Mineral Area the past two seasons, and prior to that spent three years as an assistant at Moberly.

I got to know Kyle well when he was at Southeast, and we've stayed in touch. He told me he's excited about his new position, and I'm sure he'll do well.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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