Expos Call on San Pedro

Oscar San Pedro didn't mind the odd stares and cruel comments along the roadside. Instead of allowing his son Erick an easy ride from the ballpark after a game San Pedro would make the little leaguer run home as he yelled encouragement from behind the steering wheel.

"Everybody thought I was crazy for having Erick do that," says Oscar. "But in the back of my mind I was just preparing him for the future - making him strong so he could be ready for bigger and better things down the road.

Who's laughing now?

The University of Miami junior catcher was selected by the Montreal Expos in the second-round (54th overall) of Major League Baseball's amateur draft Monday afternoon. San Pedro, a projected early-round selection, didn't have to wait long for a call he's been dreaming about for years.

"It's been quite an experience for me to go through this whole process - I've enjoyed it the whole way," said San Pedro, who is hitting .333 with 12 home runs and 51 RBIs for the Hurricanes.

"I'm excited to go show the Expos what I can do. I didn't expect Montreal to pick me, but I'm just glad they're giving me the chance to live a dream. This is something I've played in my head for a long time."

San Pedro could be playing for real sooner rather than later.

San Pedro, coming off a strong performance in the Coral Gables Regional that included seven hits and four RBIs, is likely to skip his senior year at UM and play for the Expos once the season is over.

Although San Pedro indicated he would discuss the decision with his family a hefty signing bonus awaits the second-rounder. Oscar San Pedro said Monday night that his son will likely go pro after the Hurricanes' season concludes.

"As a second-rounder the money is going to be a significant amount," said Oscar San Pedro. "It's his decision, but I think Erick will be playing in the minor leagues pretty soon."

He's certainly come a long way. The same kid who hit just .217 - in 24 games - as a freshman for the Hurricanes in 2002 is now being touted as a possible future star. Last season San Pedro finished at .317 with four homers and 43 RBIs, while making just four errors behind the plate.

Baseball America and MLB's draft analysis noted San Pedro's improved bat speed, solid defensive skills, strong arm, work handling pitchers and ability to drive the ball into the gaps as some of his biggest attributes.

"I'm not one to brag, but I guess all the work is paying off," said San Pedro. "But this is only one step because getting to the big leagues isn't easy."

Oscar, a former catcher in the Cuban National League, said that Erick could be in the major leagues within two to three years.

"From a baseball standpoint Erick is ready to play. He handles the bat well and is above average defensively," says Oscar. "My biggest concern is his lack of maturity in regards to the step he's taking. It's not easy for a young kid to handle all the travel and being away from home - I don't care who it is."

But San Pedro still has some unfinished business at UM, where the Hurricanes are two victories from another trip to the College World Series.

After getting to Omaha last season and walking away empty handed San Pedro is starving for a grand finish this time around. San Pedro will be behind the plate when the Hurricanes open the best-of-three Super Regional against Florida on Saturday.

"It would be sweet to get a (National Championship) ring," says San Pedro. "I can't imagine a better way to walk away."

Or run - just ask Oscar.

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