Howell, Street Taken In First Round Of MLB Draft

Junior LHP <B>J.P. Howell</B> and junior RHP <B>Huston Street</B> were first-round selections in Major League Baseball's first-year player draft Monday. The All-American hurlers led a pack of seven Longhorns who heard their names called as No. 2 Texas (53-13) prepares to host an NCAA Super Regional series against No. 15 Vanderbilt (45-17) Friday.

Howell was the Kansas City Royals' opening round choice with the 31st overall pick while Street, as expected, was picked by the Oakland A's at No. 40. Also selected: junior 1B/C Curtis Thigpen (Toronto, second round), junior 2B Seth Johnston (Baltimore, seventh round), junior LHP Buck Cody (St. Louis, seventh round), junior RHP Kyle Yates (Toronto, 13th round) and junior INF J.D. Reininger (Cincinnati, 14th round).

Howell, who has been Texas' ace the past two seasons with a combined 23-4 record, has made no secret of his intent to take his stuff to the next level following the completion of his junior campaign. He enters the Super Regional with a 2.24 ERA. Street, meanwhile, has indicated he will likely defer career decisions until after post-season play. "The Legacy" keeps adding to his legend with 12 saves a 1.49 ERA this year. He is UT's all-time save leader with 41.

Thigpen has been Texas' most consistent bat in 2004 and is currently hitting a team-leading .363 with six HRs and 43 RBI. The slugger almost single-handedly powered Texas to the Big 12 regular season championship two weekends ago in consecutive comebacks against Texas A&M. Johnston has seen his average rise from .253 as a sophomore to his current .292, and the 6-3 second baseman has been clutch at the plate (particularly against Rice). Cody, who has been used in short relief situations throughout the season, has notched a 1.74 ERA in 36 appearances. Yates, also used in short relief situations, quickly made his mark in 27 appearances at Texas after transferring from Midland College. Reininger is still looking to recapture the power-hitting success of his freshman campaign when he smashed 13 home runs and drove in 51 runs while batting .320 as a near-everyday starter. His production dropped off to four homers and 27 RBI with a .244 average in '03 before rebounding slightly this season with four round-trippers and 33 RBIs with a .270 average.

UT's top high school signee Homer Bailey, a 6-3 RHP from LaGrange went, No. 7 overall to Cincinnati Monday and plans to turn pro. Another Longhorn signee, Pflugerville Connally OF Greg Golson, got a first round call at No. 21 from the Phillies. Cowley County (Kan.) CC's 6-4 RHP Josh Wahpepah, a November '03 signee, went to the Brewers at No. 76 overall. Joshua Johnson, a high school infielder from Tampa, Flor. who inked with Texas last November, was the 85th player chosen overall. The Astros picked UT signee and LHP Troy Patton of Tomball with the 274th overall pick.

The two-day draft concludes Tuesday. Senior LHP Justin Simmons (the ace of the 2002 National Championship season) is likely to be selected. Simmons has notched a 10-3 mark with a 4.21 ERA this season.

The Super Regional in Austin between the Horns and Commodores begins Friday, 6:05 p.m., (CDT) in an ESPN national telecast. Vanderbilt is expected to toss ace 6-1 lefty Jeremy Sowers, who was the No. 6 overall pick in the Draft. The second contest is slated for 12:05 p.m., Saturday, and will be carried regionally on ESPN. A third game, if necessary, is set for 2:05 p.m. Sunday, in the best-of-three series. The winner becomes one of eight teams to advance the following weekend to the College World Series in Omaha.

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