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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Cats jump to pro ranks

    UA center fielder T.J. Steele hits a grounder in a 13-4 win over San Diego State at Sancet Stadium on April 30. Steele hit .435 in his first six games with the Houston Astros single-A team, the Tri-City Valley Cats.
    UA center fielder T.J. Steele hits a grounder in a 13-4 win over San Diego State at Sancet Stadium on April 30. Steele hit .435 in his first six games with the Houston Astros’ single-A team, the Tri-City Valley Cats.

    Baseball Notes

    It has only been a matter of weeks since the Arizona baseball team’s season came to an end in Coral Gables, Fla. The distinctive ping of aluminum bats still resonates through the collegiate baseball atmosphere, however, for a few former Wildcats as their professional lives have already begun.

    Out of the 11 Arizona players to be drafted June 5-6, five have signed professional contracts and three have already started work with their respective team’s minor league affiliates.

    Among the early signees already with their teams are outfielders Jon Gaston and T.J. Steele, infielder Colt Sedbrook and pitcher David Coulon. Lefty pitcher Eric Berger and right-hander Mike Colla have also signed to their respective teams, according to UA head coach Andy Lopez, but have yet to be added to minor league rosters.

    Of those players to have signed, Gaston and Steele, both of whom were draftees of the Houston Astros, were among the first Wildcats to hit the field with Houston’s single-A franchise, the Tri-City Valley Cats.

    In his first six games with the Cats, Gaston hit .120 with a double and three RBIs. Meanwhile, Steele did considerably better, hitting .435 with a trio of two-baggers and four RBIs. The former Arizona center fielder has showed off his speed as well with one stolen base through his first six games with the team.

    Also playing early minor-league ball is former Wildcat second baseman Colt Sedbrook, the 22nd-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals.

    In his first seven games with the single-A affiliate, Sedbrook hit .385 with a triple and five RBIs for the Batavia Muckdogs. The three-year Arizona letter winner also collected three walks and struck out only three times, giving him an impressive .500 on-base percentage.

    But despite the quick start for the recent draft picks, Lopez said it is too early to determine the future of the players.

    “”They’re all very talented and I’m sure they’ll make their organization very happy,”” Lopez said of his former starters. “”But to be able to say whether they’ll be in the big leagues or not, I don’t even try to do that.

    “”I think they all have the ability to be very successful in pro ball, but there is so much more involved.””

    Former Arizona starter Coulon has also joined his single-A team, the Elizabethton Twins, but has yet to make an appearance for the Minnesota Twins affiliate.

    Those Wildcats still waiting to sign contracts are infielders C.J. Ziegler and Brad Glenn, and pitchers Preston Guilmet, Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth.

    While the possibility remains for Glenn and Guilmet to return to Arizona’s lineup next season as contract talks have gone unfulfilled for both

    players thus far, the chances of Perry and Schlereth returning are far less likely, as both were first-round picks of Detroit and Arizona, respectively.

    “”I’ve had a few guys who have made the jump to the majors pretty fast,”” Lopez said. “”The teams that drafted (Perry and Schlereth) have a specific need that they fit. So if they pitch well, (playing in the majors this year) could be a realistic possibility.””

    Arizona likely losing three top recruits to pros

    The Wildcats have already lost one and will likely lose two other 2008 recruits to professional contracts before the signing period is through. One of Arizona’s top three recruits, left-handed pitcher and outfielder Anthony Gose, was a second-round pick of Philadelphia and signed with the Phillies last Friday, making it official that he will not be in Tucson next spring.

    Arizona’s next top pair of recruits, southpaws Kyle Lobstein and Edgar Olmos, were also both drafted in the first three rounds by Tampa Bay and Florida, respectively, leaving the Wildcats in jeopardy of losing two more much-needed arms for next season.

    “”Those first three rounds, (MLB teams) offer a pretty good amount of money so that’s usually pretty tempting,”” Lopez said. “”We always know there’s a risk involved when you get that type of player, but right now it’s just a matter of getting those guys figured out so we can plan for next year.””

    The likely departure of Arizona’s top three pitchers leaves the Wildcats with a pair of impressive new arms: right-hander Donnie Roach and lefty hurler Brad Dydalewicz, along with a handful of others.

    Lopez said he believes neither player will sign professional contracts, as both were drafted in the later rounds.

    Shortstop Abel requests release

    Prior to Arizona’s regional in Ann Arbor, Mich., shortstop Robert Abel requested a release from the program, according to Lopez.

    After earning the starting job at shortstop in his freshman season, the sophomore started only 11 games in his second year as errors and a slumping batting average early on paved the way for freshman Bryce Ortega to earn the starting role for much of the year, including the postseason.

    In Abel’s 20 total appearances, he committed three errors while hitting a meager .267 at the plate.

    “”I think (Abel) is in the decision-making process right now,”” Lopez said. “”I haven’t talked to him recently, but if he chooses to stay we’re all for it. But if he chooses to leave, we’re not going to hold him back from pursuing whatever he wants to do.””

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