Baseball Notebook

School begins on The Farm this Wednesday which means it's an anxious time for Cardinal baseball fans. The player that everyone has their eyes on this year is center fielder Sam Fuld. The All-American can either sign a professional contract or return for his senior year. Read on for the latest concerning Fuld plus other baseball news and notes.

Sam Fuld has a very important, life changing decision to make over the next few days.  The question right now is whether this will be an easy decision or one that he may agonize over.  The Stanford center fielder has one year of eligibility remaining on The Farm and has the option of returning to school for his senior campaign or signing a contract with the Chicago Cubs and foregoing that final season.  The 24th round draft pick is expecting to hear from the Cubs brass tomorrow concerning what kind of offer he's going to receive.

"The scouting director is going to meet with the general manager and the owner to figure out how much money they have to spend," explains Fuld.  "They want to make some sort of offer before I go out to school in the next couple of days.  What the offer is, I don't know at this point.  I should find out by tomorrow."

Whether or not this will be an easy decision for Fuld certainly depends on what kind of money the Cubs are willing to spend.  Fuld has expressed to the front office that he has a lot to look forward to in returning to school which means it's likely going to take quite a bit of cash to lure him away.   If the offer isn't up to Fuld's standards and he feels that he can improve on it with another strong season at Stanford in 2004, then the decision of whether or not to sign could very well be an easy one.  Nevertheless, Fuld is hoping to figure out his plans before he leaves his New Hampshire home for the Bay Area on Sunday morning.

"The idea is to know exactly what I'm doing by Saturday.  I should have a clearer picture by then," says Fuld.

Fuld definitely isn't your typical 24th round draft choice.  He is a three-time all-Pac-10 performer, a two-time All-American, and currently owns a .350 career batting average at Stanford.  Based strictly on talent, Fuld is a top ten round draft pick, but he fell in the draft because of signibility concerns.  This summer, Fuld starred in the Cape Cod League as he finished with a .361 average while playing for the Hyannis Mets.   This overwhelming success in the summer has Cardinal fans excited for a huge year from Fuld in '04.  But, was that success in the Cape too good to be true for the Stanford faithful?  It may just be all the Cubs needed to convince themselves that Fuld is worth top ten (or top five) round money which could very well be enough for Fuld to leave Stanford early.

Fuld concludes though, "As of now, I'm still leaning to going back to school.  You just never know what kind of offer they're going to come up with."

The first day of classes is Wednesday, but The Bootleg hopes to check back with Fuld on Sunday upon his return to the Bay Area for all the latest developments.

Sam Fuld isn't the only drafted player associated with Stanford that's worth following these days.  Four incoming freshmen - Joe Ayers (SS, 36th round, Milwaukee), Jim Rapoport (OF, 39th round, Cleveland), Greg Reynolds (RHP, 41st round, Philadelphia), and Adam Sorgi (SS, 49th round, Philadelphia) - were also drafted last June and none have signed.  The last high school recruit that Stanford lost to professional baseball was B.J. Garbe (HS Class of 1999) who was selected with the fifth overall pick by Minnesota.  Because Stanford has not lost any recruits to the pro ranks in the last three years, they've complied three top ten recruiting classes including the last two (the current juniors and sophomores) that have been ranked second and third in the country respectively by Baseball America. 

There are currently eight former Stanford baseball players in the majors.  They are: Eric Bruntlett (Houston), Jody Gerut (Cleveland), Jeffrey Hammonds (San Francisco), Rick Helling (Florida), A.J. Hinch (Detroit), David McCarty (Boston), Mike Mussina (New York Yankees), and Jason Young (Colorado).  Mussina has put together another outstanding year as he's 17-7 with a 3.14 ERA in 209 1/3 innings.  The 34 year old Mussina is one win shy from 200 in his career (199-109).

Gerut is having a rookie season to remember as he boasts a .280 batting average with 22 home runs and 75 RBI.  He should get some consideration for American League Rookie of the Year.  The other six big leaguers play supporting roles on their teams although Helling has stepped in nicely and become a key member of the Marlins bullpen in their playoff run.  Bruntlett has stuck with the Astros in the second half of the season as a reserve infielder while Young was recently promoted when rosters expanded on September 1st.

Many former Cardinal players had impressive seasons in the minors this year and appear to have moved closer to the ultimate goal.  John Gall tore it up in AAA in the Cardinals organization as he finished the year with a .312 batting average, 16 home runs, and 73 RBI.  Stanford's all-time leader in hits, doubles, and RBI's, Gall should get a shot to make the big club next spring.

Jason Cooper had a phenomenal first full season in professional baseball.  As a member of the Indians organization, Cooper hit .298 with 12 homers in Class A ball before a midseason promotion to Class A Advanced ball where he went on to hit .307 with nine home runs.  You would expect Cooper to start in AA next spring and it doesn't appear outside the realm of possibility that we'll be seeing two former Cardinal in the Cleveland Indians outfield in the future.

Other noteworthy seasons came from Chris O'Riordan who after missing the first half of the year with an injury, went on to hit .326 in Class A ball in the Texas Rangers organization.  Longtime minor leaguer Brian Dallimore put things together in AAA as he finished the season with a stellar .352 batting average as a member of the Giants organization.  Justin Wayne's 4-12 record doesn't look very impressive with the Marlins AAA affiliate, but Wayne did compile a respectable 4.24 ERA while only walking 40 in 136 innings.  And the aforementioned Young had a great year pitching in the thin air in Colorado Springs (AAA).  He went 6-7 with a 3.95 ERA.

The annual Stanford baseball alumni game will be held on Sunday, October 19th at 12:00pm at Sunken Diamond.  Admission is free.  Fall practice will begin a few days prior to the game.

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