Mariners May Have Found Gold in Jermaine Brock

The M's nabbed outfielder Jermaine Brock with their 6th round pick on Monday. talked with the 17-year-old and his family to learn more about his past, present and future.

The news made its way to Jermaine Brock's household sometime around 4:30 p.m. in the outfielder's hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich. on Monday.

Brock, a 17-year-old outfielder/pitcher from Ottawa Hills High, had been drafted by his childhood favorite Seattle Mariners in the 6th round (183rd overall) of the 2004 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

He probably should have been ecstatic. He probably should have yelled and screamed and cried tears of joy. One would assume those are the kind of reactions a high school senior would have after being drafted by the team he grew up admiring.

Brock, instead, was miles away from home enjoying the first days of summer vacation at the beach with his friends. Not only was he not celebrating, he was completely unaware of the life-changing news that was awaiting him at home.

"I couldn't get a hold of him on his cell phone," said Martin Homan, who along with wife Sherri has been Brock's legal guardian since 1994. "He didn't find out until five hours after he was drafted."

Once Brock arrived home, the news seemed too good to be true for the recent high school graduate.

"To get drafted by the Mariners, which has been my favorite team since like 1992, that made it great," said Brock, talking to from his bedroom that still has posters of Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez and Tino Martinez on the walls. "Most guys are just happy to be with any team, but to actually be drafted by the team you've been looking at your whole life, that's just amazing."

So why, then, wasn't Brock taking it all in during draft day, planting himself in front of a computer and waiting for his name to be called like most draft eligible players? After all, this was potentially one of the biggest days of his life.

"It was a big deal, but I wasn't just going to sit around and sweat it," said the projected outfielder. "If I was drafted day one or day two, I would have been happy with whatever. I'm just happy to get a chance to play baseball."

Playing baseball is something Homan says Brock was born to do.

"He's been pretty much a baseball athlete his whole life," he said. "When he picked up the sport in 1995 as an 8-year-old, it was clear that his strong points all pointed towards baseball."

As a junior in high school, though, the sport was taken away from him for a full year as he was ineligible to play. While the other promising prep players in Michigan were making names for themselves, Brock's inability to get on the field only damaged his chances of making it professionally one day.

That is, until summer arrived. It was following that forgettable junior year when Brock joined a summer league team and exploded on the scene, gaining interest from the Chicago White Sox.

While in a tournament down at Oceala County Stadium in Orlando, Fla., Brock was involved in a play that few who were there will ever forget. He stepped up to the plate and smashed a hard line drive to first base, which seemed like an average play until blood started streaming down the first baseman's arm.

Homan, who remembers the play like it happened yesterday, explained.

"The first baseman made the misfortune of sticking his glove in front of and it split the palm of his hand," he recalled. "They had to stop the game and everything. It was like nothing I'd ever seen."

Brock parlayed the success of last summer into a fantastic senior year, and while he remained somewhat under the radar of some major league teams about 20 others started to notice what the White Sox had earlier on.

The kid was fast. The kid was athletic. The kid could play.

Brock batted .500 as a senior, hit five homers, and finished with "somewhere around 30 stolen bases," according to his memory. What he did know for sure was that he never once was thrown out attempting to steal. He also struck out 18 batters and hurled one-hitters in back-to-back outings on the mound, firing his fastball up in the high 80s range.

On Monday, those were the things that the Mariners took into account when they made him their first outfielder selected and fourth player chosen overall. They saw his well-rounded athleticism - Brock was the MVP of his high school soccer team and a nationally ranked youth racquetball player – and overlooked the fact that Baseball America left the 6-foot-2, 175-pound left-hander off of Michigan's Top 20 prospects list.

Brock was the third Michigan-native drafted on the day behind only shortstop Brian Bixler (Pick No. 52) and catcher Billy Killian (72).

Now the question is whether the youngster will sign. Homan says Brock has a full-ride scholarship offer to a junior college in southern Illinois if negotiations fall through with the Mariners, but the 17-year-old knows what he wants.

"I'm pretty much 100 percent sure I want to sign," he said. "I would pay to play major league baseball. I'm just one of those kids who wants to get on the field."

And when he gets there, the left-handed hitter has no doubt in his mind where he wants to play.

"Centerfield, of course," he said. "You're the captain of everything out there. You call the shots."

On Monday, it was the Mariners calling the shots, and nobody is happier about that than Jermaine Brock.

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