During the 2007 MLB Draft, Scott Bittle was contacted by the Yankees and asked if he would sign if taken between rounds six and 12. The right-hander declined because he felt he could do better after another collegiate season. One year later, Bittle was accurate in his assessment, and as for the Yankees, their second shot at the pitcher will assuredly pay off.
Bittle was one of the three Ole Miss hurlers chosen on the first day of the MLB First Year Player Draft Thursday when New York selected the junior with the 75th overall pick in the second round. The others were Lance Lynn being picked up 39th overall to the St. Louis Cardinals and Cody Satterwhite, who was called on 67th overall to the Detroit Tigers.
"Certainly we're very excited for Lance Cody and Scott," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco in a release issued by the University. "They are three guys we really counted on this year. They are very deserving and I know they are honored and excited about the new opportunity in front of them. We are very proud of all three of them."
Bittle's decision to stay for 2008 increased the relievers draft position by 47 rounds after a 7-1 record, eight saves and an SEC-leading 130 strikeouts. He was named second-team all-conference and was a finalist for the Stopper of the Year.
"Last year, the Yankees called me before the sixth round and said they would pick me between the sixth and 12th round if I said that I would sign," said Bittle, who was eventually chosen by New York in the 49th rouind. I told them that I thought I had a bad year and that I felt like I could do better if I stayed. It has really paid off.
"I'm definitely happy with where I was picked up. In that round, it is about the organization and the Yankees are a top-class organization and I like their prospects."
Bittle has been a fan of the Yankees since 1995 when New York battled Seattle in the American League Divisional Series.
"I am a huge fan of the Yankees," Bittle said. "That is my favorite team. When I was younger and I went through my rebellious stage, I wanted to against the team my parents liked. It was the American playoffs and they were rooting for the Mariners against the Yankees (1995 ALDS) and so I picked the Yankees and it just stuck."
Bittle isn't the only pitcher to improve his stock by being a Rebel. Lynn and Satterwhite were both chosen out of high school but decided to attend Ole Miss. Now after their junior years, the right-handers have been selected much higher than before. Lynn was a sixth round pick of the Mariners in the 2005 Draft, and Satterwhite was chosen in the 37th round by the Indians.
Lynn going 39th overall (supplemental first round) is the highest by an Ole Miss player since Chris Coghlan was the 36th pick by the Marlins in 2006.
The former Indiana High School Player of the Year caps his time as a Rebels with a 22-12 record and the school's career record for strikeouts with 332. His 22 career wins are fifth all-time. Lynn is a two-time All-SEC selection and holds the season strikeout mark with 146.
"It's an honor to be selected in the supplemental first round," Lynn said. "I'm excited about the opportunity presented to me, and have had a wonderful three year career at Ole Miss. I'm excited to see what the future holds for me."
After being drafted 67th overall, Satterwhite will join former UM teammate Justin Henry in the Tiger organization. Satterwhite finishes with a career total of 18 wins and 11 losses. The right-hander set the freshman record for wins in 2006 with 11. Serving as both a closer and a starter during his three years, Satterwhite was Freshman All-American and Freshman All-SEC in 2006 and picked up All-SEC Second Team honors in 2007.
"I¹m excited. My good friend Justin Henry is in the organization so I know somebody in the organization. It's exciting that we had three guys drafted this high. It just shows you how good our tradition is and how talented we were," Satterwhite said. "I'm looking forward to start a new beginning. To start over, start from the bottom. I want to learn new stuff and just learn how to pitch and making the most of the pitches I have. I'm just ready to move on.
"The teams that I talked to knew I struggled and my track record. But now you get into the organization, develop, and hopefully be in the majors in three or four years so I'm expecting good things. They've got a lot of hard throwers that have made the majors, so hopefully I can follow right behind them."
Ole Miss concluded its season with a second place finish in the Coral Gables (Fla.) Regional last weekend. The Rebels were 39-26 in 2008.
"This has definitely been one of the best years that has ever happened to me," Bittle said. "I've had the support of my teammates and they've really helped me out. We've got a strong fan base and great players and a great supportive group of coaches."
Three Pitchers Picked on First Day of Draft
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