Cape flavor to Sox picks Boston selects former Wareham mates in the amateur draft, two of 11 Cape Leaguers to go in the early rounds.
By RUSS CHARPENTIER
A pair of Wareham Gatemen for the last two summers, Baylor's Dave Murphy and Georgia Tech's Matt Murton were the first two picks of the Boston Red Sox in yesterday's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, two of 11 Cape Leaguers selected among 37 first round and first round supplemental selections.
The Red Sox took three outfielders with their first four picks. They chose Murphy, a junior, with the 17th pick, one of four they had among the top 54. Last year, their first choice was the 57th, which they used for lefthanded pitcher Jon Lester of Bellarmin High School in Washington.
"I was extremely excited when I got the news," Murphy told The Associated Press. "I don't think there's any way I could be happier right now. I'm living a dream."
After Murton, the Red Sox took lefthanded pitcher Abe Alvarez of Long Beach State with the 49th pick and outfielder Mickey Hall of Walton (Ga.) High School with the 54th.
"Murphy's been our guy for the last couple of weeks," Theo Epstein said after the first day of the draft - his first as Red Sox general manager. "On draft day, every team thinks they've done well. I'll say that we made an impact, and we really believe that. Things really broke our way."
"I am just ecstatic," Wareham general manager John Wylde said of the Murphy/Murton selections. "The thing that's so nice about it is they are really excited about possibly being drafted by Boston.
"I talked with David about three weeks ago about teams showing interest, and he was talking about how he hoped Boston worked out. Matt called me this afternoon and left a message. I've never heard him sound so happy. He's such a level guy, never high or low, but he's bouncing off the rooftop."
Murphy, a left-handed hitter, made huge strides in 2002 over his first summer in Wareham.
After batting just .213 with no homers and five doubles in his first Cape League stint, he returned last summer to hit .303 with 10 doubles, two triples a homer and 18 RBIs and was selected to the final all-star team.
Boston took Murton with its supplemental first-round choice, 32nd overall. Murton was selected the Cape League MVP in 2001 after finishing second in the league in hitting (.324), first in RBIs (28) and fifth in steals (19-for-19).
Murton was the league's third ranked pro prospect despite playing in just the last 16 regular-season games after breaking a finger in Team USA tryouts. He hit .400 during that stretch and won the All-Star Game Home Run Derby.
Wake Forest right-hander Kyle Sleeth was the first Cape Leaguer selected, going to Detroit as the third pick in the draft. Sleeth was 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA for Cotuit in 2001, striking out 47 and walking 11 in 49 innings.
University of Richmond right-hander Tim Stauffer, who went immediately after Sleet, was picked by San Diego with the fourth selection. A victim of poor offensive support with Chatham last summer, the 2002 All-American was 3-2, 2.59 and led the league with 67 strikeouts in 63 innings. Baseball America listed him second among its list of the Cape League's top pro prospects. UCLA's Wes Whisler, voted the top prospect, was just a sophomore this season and not draft-eligible.
Another alumnus of the Gatemen, LSU shortstop Aaron Hill was grabbed by Toronto at No. 13. He was the Cape League's all-star third baseman in 2001 after hitting .259 in the regular season and .400 in the playoffs, and was named playoff MVP.
Arizona outfielder Brian Anderson was taken by the Chicago White Sox with the 15th overall selection. Anderson suffered an early-season bout with Lyme disease in 2001 and hit .218 with Bourne. Last year, he hit .245 in 18 games with Cotuit before returning home.
California third baseman Conor Jackson was picked by Arizona at No. 19. He hit .225 in 42 games with Bourne in 2001 with three homers and 12 RBIs.
Rice reliever David Aardsma, chosen by San Francisco with the 22nd choice, burst onto the scene in Falmouth last summer.
The right-hander - who consistently threw 94 mph and hit 97 on the radar guns - was fourth on BA's prospect list. Thanks to a nearly unhittable slider, he struck out 45 in 27 innings while allowing just 12 baserunners and posting a 0.68 ERA. He was named to the final all-star team.
Stetson third baseman Brian Snyder put himself in good draft position last summer in Cotuit and was taken by Oakland with the 26th pick.
Snyder hit .291 with four homers and 21 RBIs and also stole 15 bases for the West regular-season champions. He was MVP of the all-star game and was named to the final all-star team.
Harwich Mariners catcher Mitch Maier of Toledo went to Kansas City at No. 30. Hoping to follow in the footsteps of another Harwich first-round catcher - Kelly Shopach, now playing well in Double A Portland - Maier hit .253 in 38 games last summer and made just one error in 29 games behind the plate.
Oakland selected Texas shortstop Omar Quintanilla immediately after Murton. Quintanilla hit .268 in 20 games for Cotuit.
Alvarez, Boston's third pick yesterday, is 11-1 with a 2.41 ERA, 97 strikeouts and 29 walks in 17 starts for Long Beach State. He is scheduled to pitch this weekend against Stanford in the best-of-three series to choose another College World Series team.
Hall hit .418 with a .534 on-base percentage this season.
Other players chosen by Boston in the first five rounds were righthander Beau Vaughn from Arizona State in the third, righthander Jonathan Papelbon from Mississippi State in the fourth and lefthander Brian Marshall from Virginia Commonwealth in the fifth.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.
(Published: June 4, 2003)