Huskies Await Draft Calls

Connecticut baseball coach Jim Penders has been down in the dumps since May 26 when the season ended for the Huskies with two losses to South Florida in the Big East tournament semifinals.

The NCAA tournament serves as Penders' daily reminder that UConn's season fell short of its goal. And Major League Baseball's First-Year Draft, which began with the first round and the compensation round Monday night, only makes it more difficult for him to plan for next season.

No UConn players were drafted Monday. But at least three Huskies – and perhaps six or seven – are expected to have their names called either Tuesday or Wednesday.

"This time of year, these two weeks, are the two weeks that are my least favorite of the year," Penders said Monday. "We're not competing any more and you just don't know what you have [returning to your roster].

"I don't know if Billy Ferriter has played his last game in our uniform. He probably has. I don't know if Scott Oberg has played his last game in our uniform. I don't think he knows yet. LJ [Mazzilli] certainly has, but you never really know until their names are called. Even then, you don't know."

Mazzilli, UConn's second baseman who hit .339 this season, could go in the second or third round Tuesday and should be selected no later than the fifth round. He is the son of former major-league player and manager Lee Mazzilli, and had 19 doubles, nine home runs, and 38 RBI for the Huskies.

Baseball America lists Mazzilli as the seventh best second baseman in the draft, and ranks him 143rd overall. The Greenwich junior is the top prospect from the state of Connecticut in the draft.

Mazzilli did lead UConn with 20 errors and there is some thinking among scouts that he will be moved to an outfield position as a pro.

Mazzilli played in the NCAA tournament the first two years of his UConn career. Last year he watched as a program-best 10 UConn players were drafted during the NCAA tournament. Before the Big East tournament, Mazzilli said he didn't want to sit around waiting for the draft – with no games to play.

But that happened.

"Like anyone else who is eligible, you think about it at times," Mazzilli said. "That's what you've worked for your entire life."

The next two UConn players to be drafted should be pitchers Scott Oberg and David Fischer. Oberg (5-0, nine saves 0.99 ERA) bounced back from Tommy John surgery to become UConn's closer and a first-team All-Big East selection. Fischer was taken by San Francisco in the 30th round last year but returned for his senior season (5-6, 3.47).

Oberg had his Tommy John surgery after a battle with psoriatic arthritis. Oberg still takes medication for the condition, which is under control and didn't bother him last season.

"Oberg's a wild card," Penders said. "Some teams don't even have him in because they're nervous about his medical. It's split. Some guys talk about the Tommy John, others talk about the arthritis. Some of them talk about both. There are teams that still have him in the top 10 rounds.

"I don't think there was a more dominant pitcher in college baseball, if you look at the numbers. You take his Ohio State [four walks, three earned runs] appearance out, [his numbers] would be microscopic."

Depending on his place in the draft, Oberg could return to the Huskies.

"We'll see what happens and go from there," Oberg said. "Definitely keeping all the possibilities open."

Penders expects Ferriter, UConn's centerfielder and leadoff hitter, to be selected Tuesday.

"He has graduated,"Penders said. "He can come back and go to grad school, which would be great for us. But I don't know if that's in his best interests. We've had a good, long talk about it. We're going to completely support him on whatever he decides."

In addition, UConn third baseman Ryan Fuller, first baseman Tim Martin, catcher Joe Pavone and pitcher Ryan Moore are other Huskies who might be drafted.

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