Tigers Talk About Draft, Options

CLEMSON – Much as it did in 2002, the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft hit Clemson hard. Five juniors were taking in the top 12 rounds, while the team's top three recruits were taken in the first 131 picks Tuesday.

Most, if not all, of the draftees are expected to sign to play professionally. The same thing happened in 2002, and it took the program two full seasons to recover.

Of the current Tigers, leftfielder Tyler Colvin was selected the highest, going 13 overall after being picked by the Chicago Cubs. In a matter of seconds, Colvin has become a millionaire.

"It's a good feeling, I guess," he said. "It's a bit overwhelming to think I'm a first-rounder."

Colvin said he believed he was going to go somewhere between late in the first round and the early part of the second round. However, going this high didn't cross his mind.

"I knew there was a chance I'd be late, but not in the middle (of the first round)," he said. "I know not to bank on anything because the draft is a tricky thing."

Though it means losing a key player early, Clemson coach Jack Leggett couldn't be happier for his star player.

"He's getting everything he deserves," Leggett said. "He plays the game hard everyday, which is the way it should be played. I think that's what I respect the most about him."

The next Tiger picked was junior right-handed pitcher Jason Berken, who was selected in the sixth round by the Baltimore Orioles. Like Colvin, he's a basically a sure thing to leave Clemson.

Also drafted on the first of the two-day draft was pitcher Josh Cribb, who went with the first selection of the eighth round to the Kansas City Royals.

"It's a great feeling to get that off your chest," Cribb said. "I was kind of surprised because coming out of high school and not getting drafted and going two years here and not getting drafted. It's a big lift and I didn't see it coming at all."

Later in that same round, Clemson relief pitcher Steve Richard was picked by the Seattle Mariners. His selection may come as a surprise to Tiger fans since he hasn't performed well as a reliever this year. However, prior to his coming to Clemson this past off-season, Richard was the ace at Maine.

"I'm just happy to be given the opportunity to play at the next level," he said. "It's good to get picked up in that round considering the year I've had."

It's highly doubtful Richard will be at Clemson next year.

In the 10th round, Tigers first baseman Andy D'Alessio was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was the only one of those drafted that went lower than what many expected.

"Anything can happen," D'Alessio said. "The draft is crazy."

If he doesn't like the money being offered, D'Alessio is one of the few Clemson players drafted Tuesday that could return.

Two rounds later, Tigers starting pitcher Stephen Faris was picked by the San Diego Padres. He is the other that could come back to Clemson should he not like the money offered.

"I'm not really paying attention to it right now," he said. "I'm just trying to get ready for Oral Roberts."

Senior relief pitcher Drew Fiorenza was also taken in the 15th round by the Seattle Mariners.

Clemson's three top commitments, left-handed pitcher Ryan Morris, shortstop Jason Taylor and right-handed pitcher Alex Cobb are all likely to bypass playing for the Tigers.

The Kansas City Royals took Taylor, of Floyd Kellam High in Virginia Beach, Va., 45th overall, while the Tampa Bay Devil Rays took Cobb, of Vero Beach High in Fla., 109th overall. The Cleveland Indians selected Morris, of South Mecklenburg High in Charlotte, with the 131st pick.

"It's not an easy day for the coaches and it's not an easy day for anybody," Leggett said. "We've have kids that we've been working a year and a half to get to come school here. … We expected two, but in the back of your mind you expect it could happen."

Leggett said he tries to prepare for the worst possible scenarios and he said, while it wasn't the worst, it was pretty close. He also added there are some backup plans put in place.

"We've tried to cover ourselves and we've got some players that can play," Leggett said. "(The draft) could make it a little more difficult, but we'll figure it out."

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