Tag Archives: mlb draft

LIC HS teen choosing between MLB & college

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Joshua Almonte

Joshua Almonte has a life-changing decision to make, and the clock is ticking.

Almonte was drafted from Long Island City High School in the 2012 Major League Baseball draft by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 22nd round, 685th overall. While the draft was a few weeks ago, he hasn’t decided whether to become a professional or continue his education.

“I’m only 18 so I could go to junior college and get drafted again,” said Almonte, who became the first player to be drafted from the school in approximately 45 years, according to published reports. “But then I could get injured. There are pros and cons.”

Almonte was also offered a full-ride scholarship to play baseball for Miami Dade College in Florida. He has until July 13 to sign his professional contract.

“Most people tell me, ‘that’s my dream, go ahead and sign,’ but it’s not as easy as people think,” he said.

His dream, to be drafted and become a professional player, started last summer. Almonte said that while playing with his summer travel team, the New York Rays, he was visited by so many college coaches that he thought if he pushed himself he could get pro scouts to talk to him as well.

“My freshmen year I was just trying to make varsity, play well and hopefully get into a good college,” Almonte said. “Getting drafted definitely wasn’t on my mind freshman year.”

But with newfound ambition, he began working towards getting drafted.

He worked out frequently to raise his speed and went to batting cages after practicing with his team to enhance his hitting.

He also had a personal trainer to become stronger, and he attended showcases to present his talents to scouts.

“I was definitely trying my hardest to get drafted,” the outfielder said. “Instead of trying to focus on one thing, I tried to improve my overall skills.”

And scouts took notice.

“At the beginning of the season when we were about to play there were seven or eight scouts at our first game,” said Thomas Lehman, Long Island City Bulldogs Head Coach.

The only problem was that Almonte had a down year in the Public School Athletic League (PSAL).

He batted just .244 and had a .404 on base percentage, a year after tearing up the league with a .395 batting average and over .536 on-base percentage.

“I found it really hard to make an adjustment,” Almonte explained. “In the summer I saw fast pitching and then in high school I rarely saw anyone throwing above 85 so it was hard for me to make an adjustment.”

But the stats didn’t stop scouts from keeping an eye on him, because of the potential the outfielder showed.

Standing at 6’3,” Almonte is long and lean — and fast, running the 60-yard in a stunning 6.55 seconds. At a recent showcase Almonte showed off his arm, gunning a 94 mph strike from right field to home plate.

“He has the tools,” Lehman said. “I think scouts saw that and how he projects for the future.”

If Almonte does choose to sign will the Blue Jays, the organization will pay for his education. However, he won’t be able to play college ball.

No matter what decision Almonte makes, Lehman said he will support him 100 percent, and is just happy to see Almonte have opportunities many other players don’t.

“It was a great honor to coach a kid with that kind of talent,” Lehman said.


Kyle Hansen’s high school coach remembers a player destined to be drafted

| lguerre@queenscourier.com


St. Dominic High School head baseball coach Richard Garrett was sitting at his desk on Tuesday, June 5 when his BlackBerry began “buzzing like a pinball machine.”

Immediately he knew what had happened as he saw various texts from assistant coaches and players that read “sixth round.”

The text barrage was to let him know that former St. Dominic starting pitcher — and current Johnnie — Kyle Hansen was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the sixth round, 201st overall, of this year’s MLB draft.

“I was so happy for him,” said Garrett, who waited about 30 minutes before he called his former player to congratulate him.

Hansen, as well as four other players — Jeremy Baltz, Matt Carasiti, Matt Wessinger and Sean Hagan— were all taken from St. John’s in the draft.

The 16-year head coach said even during Hansen’s high school days in Oyster Bay, he knew the righty had the stuff to play in the majors. He added Hansen will without a doubt be inducted into the St. Dominic Athletic Hall of Fame, which the school is currently building for next year.

In his senior year at the school, Hansen led the Bayhawks to a first-ever championship in the 53-year history of the Nassau Suffolk Catholic High School Athletic Association (NSCHSAA), closing out the final game over St. John the Baptist, 6-4.

“Kyle was the complete package,” Garrett said. “He had the work ethic to get better and stronger, and the desire to push himself at all times.”

Teams also took notice of those tools. Garrett said at every game Hansen pitched there would be around 30 major league scouts in attendance, wielding radar guns and watching his every move.

When high school came to an end, Hansen was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 40th round of the 2009 MLB draft.

But at that time he felt he still needed to improve before heading to the pros.

“I didn’t feel like I was ready to go. I was still 18 years old,” Hansen said. “I thought college would help me advance myself.”

Garrett, who is also the dean of schools at the high school, agreed that college was a good idea and helped him through the process. But he always thought no matter what, Hansen would make it to the majors.

Garrett had also coached Hansen’s older brother, Craig, in a summer league. The elder Hansen was a first-round draft pick by the Red Sox in 2005, and Garrett said the younger brother’s pitching was similar.

So when Garrett heard Hansen was drafted it came as no surprise, and he believes Hansen will be pitching on a major league mound very soon.

“Maybe two years we’ll see him in a major league ballpark,” Garrett predicted. “The game gets faster. [But] the bases stay the same. They’ll [The White Sox] teach him the changes of speeds.”

Although he was drafted, Hansen still hasn’t made the decision on whether he will pitch one more year for St. John’s or whether he will move to the majors.

But whenever that time comes Garrett said the pitcher will be a shoo-in for the high school’s Hall of Fame.

“It will be an honor,” Hansen said about being inducted. “A lot of baseball talent has come out of St. Dom’s and a lot more will come out of there until coach calls it quits.”

Four Johnnies go in first 6 rounds of MLB Draft

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of St. John's Athletics

The Red Storm is on a roll.

As the St. John’s University baseball team swept through the NCAA Division 1 regional tournament with three straight victories, the Johnnies stormed the second day of the 2012 MLB Draft, as four players were selected within the first six rounds.

Junior outfielder Jeremy Baltz, who batted .345 this season and led the Red Storm with homeruns (eight), triples (four), RBI (51) and runs scored (63) during the regular season, was taken by the San Diego Padres in the second round; 68th overall. Baltz was followed by Matt Wessinger, who was selected in the fifth round, 168th overall, by the Colorado Rockies.

“I am very happy and excited for this group and it is a true testament to the success of the program to have four players selected in the top six rounds,” said Red Storm head coach Ed Blankmeyer.

Relief pitcher Matt Carasiti was the next Johnny selected — also by the Rockies— in the sixth round, 198th overall, and just three picks later starter Kyle Hansen (5-5), who had a 3.46 ERA and team-high 108 strikeouts over 93.2 innings, was taken by the Chicago White Sox in the sixth round; 201st overall.

“[The players] have worked hard and performed consistently at a high level and have earned this opportunity,” Blankmeyer said.

Baltz, the highest selected Johnny in this year’s draft, is the all-time leader in program history in both home runs (36) and RBI (196).

The outfielder also has a closet-full of accolades including the NCBWA National Hitter of the Year award, which he received in his first season with the Red Storm after leading the nation’s freshmen in both home runs (24) and RBI (85).

Wessinger, a senior shortstop, was drafted last year by the Kansas City Royals in the 37th round, but chose to return to school. This year he led the Red Storm in batting average (.353), on-base percentage (.442) and stolen bases (34).

“I am especially excited for Matt [Wessinger], who was drafted in the 37th round a year ago and had the courage to return to school and prove that he was a top-five rounder,” Blankmeyer said about the infielder.

Pitcher Sean Hagan was also selected in the 29th round, 880th overall by the Minnesota Twins.

The highest positioning for four draft picks prior to this year occurred in the 2005 MLB Draft when St. John’s had four selections in the top 15 rounds, according to St. John’s Athletics.

Last year the Red Storm saw three players drafted. Shortstop Joe Panik was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the first round, 29th overall, first baseman Paul Karmas was taken by the San Diego Padres 773rd overall, and Wessinger.