Zach Drury didn’t think about the fact that he hadn’t given up a hit until the fifth inning of Wiregrass Ranch’s Class 7A, District 8 championship game against Sickles on April 25. Once it crossed his mind, all he tried to do was make it go away.
“Our athletic trainer was there. She kept giving me this look because she knew, too,” said Drury, a 6-foot-2 right-hander. “I was just like, ‘I’m not going to say anything. I’m just not going to think about it.’ ”
It paid off for the Bulls’ ace as he earned his third no-hitter of his high school career in a 1-0 win that gave Wiregrass Ranch its first baseball district title in school history.
Now that he’s led his Bulls to a program milestone, it could be time for one of his own.
The University of North Florida signee, whose fastball has been clocked in the 90s, could be selected in the upcoming MLB first-year player draft. Drury said he’s already had conversations with his parents and Wiregrass Ranch coach Marshall McDougall — a former Florida State and Texas Rangers third baseman — about the decision he’ll have to make if he’s picked.
“Coach, he’s been through it, so he was just telling us about it, what’s going to happen, how we should handle it,” Drury said. “I’ve had a lot of help through it.”
Drury, whose younger brother Austin also pitches for the Bulls, finished his senior campaign with a 1.94 ERA in 43.1 innings pitched. At the plate he had a .353 batting average, three home runs and 22 RBIs.
Drury has played baseball since he was 5 years old. So if he sees his name on the draft board, it’ll be the realization of a dream that’s been a long time coming.
“It’s going to feel like everything I’ve worked for has paid off,” he said.
More attention for Pinellas trio
Pinellas County sent three players to the Florida Athletic Coaches Association all-star game in Sebring on May 24-25. The two-day event attracts major-league scouts from just about every team.
Clearwater Central Catholic third baseman Brenden Overton, East Lake pitcher Brad Deppermann and Osceola pitcher Keith Weisenberg each had a chance to play. Weisenberg has drawn scouts all season and was no surprise. Deppermann and Overton each jumped onto scouts’ radar screens with good high school seasons and the FACA invite.
Deppermann was 6-2 with two saves, 100 strikeouts in 75 innings pitched and a 0.93 ERA. He already has an offer to play at North Florida.
“It could happen,” Deppermann said of getting drafted. “I thought it could be possible when the season started.’’
“It was an awesome experience,’’ he said. “The talent level was so good. The biggest difference was the pitching. Everyone there threw 90-plus. I felt I did pretty good.’’
Overton said he spoke to a few scouts after the Sebring games and also went to Miami afterwards to work out for the Marlins. He has a scholarship to play at Saint Leo.
“I’m not expecting anything,’’ Overton said of the draft. “For me, it’s a win-win’’.
St. Petersburg’s Rivera one to watch
St. Petersburg infielder/outfielder Richie Rivera didn’t have an eye-popping season (.349, 12 RBIs, five doubles), but don’t be surprised if he goes in the top 20 rounds. St. Petersburg coach Travis Phelps said the Cubs have worked out Rivera several times and liked what they saw.
“Richie is super fast and super strong,” Phelps said. “He didn’t have the greatest high school season, but he killed it in his workouts with the Cubs. They had him bat left-handed, which he has never done before, and he was ripping the ball. He’s such a good athlete. He could end up being a very versatile player, kind of like a (Ben) Zobrist on the Rays.
“If you asked me this a month ago I wouldn’t have said it, but right now I think he can go in the 10 to 12th rounds.”
Rivera is committed to the State College of Florida in Bradenton.
Faedo best bet for Hillsborough Co.
Alonso right-hander Alex Faedo has long been Hillsborough County’s most touted 2014 prospect. And despite a senior season that was less of a head-turner than his previous one, the Florida signee remains the only Hillsborough County player on Baseball America’s top 500 list.
Faedo, who comes in at No. 403 and is ranked the 55th best player in the state, finished his final season at Alonso with a 0.53 ERA in 48.1 innings pitched and a 6-2 record. The Ravens missed the playoffs after a loss to class 8A runnerup Bloomingdale in the district semifinal.
Faedo’s development as a standout pitcher came late, and the junior had a breakout year in 2013, a season which included a Saladino Tournament record-breaking 17-strikeout game, a no-hitter and an 8-2 record.
Eckerd pitcher Jimmy Gutowski is a local small-college player who could see his name on the draft board this weekend. Gutowski, a junior transfer from Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y., was 11-2 with a 2.76 ERA. His 11 wins led the Sunshine State Conference and he was named to the al-SSC first team. Gutowski was the runnerup in pitcher of the year voting.
“He had a phenomenal year,’’ said Bill Mathews, who stepped down as Eckerd’s coach at the season’s end. “We kind of used him backwards. He was our Game 3 starter on Saturdays.”
Gutowski was an honorable mention on the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association All-America Team. Gutowski is scheduled to pitch in the Cape Cod League this summer.
Mathews said other draft possibilities include senior outfielder Lincoln Dunham (.317, nine doubles, 18 RBIs) and junior catcher Mike Abraham (.347, 31 RBIs). Dunham previously went to East Lake High and St. Petersburg College.
Speaking of St. Petersburg College, former Seminole first baseman Corey Baptist had a big year for the Titans. Baptist hit .397 with nine home runs and 41 RBIs, all team highs. He said he has talked to some scouts but doesn’t know what to expect during the draft.
“I definitely have better vibes this year than last year,’’ Baptist said. “I think I have a good shot (at being drafted) but you never know. I think I did my part this season but there is no guarantee. I’ll be at home waiting for the phone to ring.’’
Baptist said he will return to St. Petersburg College for a second season if he’s not drafted.
Where are they now?
Tyler Danish (Durant), RHP, Chicago White Sox: Danish, drafted in the second round last year after leading Durant to a Class 7A state runnerup finish, has spent time with the rookie-level Bristol White Sox and single-A Kannapolis Intimidators before joining the advanced-A Winston-Salem Dash in May. The right-hander had a 0.71 ERA and 3-0 record this season with Kannapolis before moving up.
Christian Arroyo (Hernando), SS, San Francisco Giants: Arroyo became the first player from Hernando County drafted in the first round when he was picked 25th overall on June 6, 2013. Since then, the 6-foot-1 shortstop spent a year at the rookie level before moving up to the single-A Augusta GreenJackets in 2014. Arroyo has 24 hits — including a home run — and 14 RBIs in 31 games with the GreenJackets. He has been on the disabled list since May 13.
Oscar Mercado (Gaither), SS, St. Louis Cardinals: Mercado, a second-round pick, finished his 2013 rookie-level season with a .209 batting average, 10 extra-base hits and 14 RBIs. Mercado has yet to be assigned to a team in 2014, spending time in extended spring training.
Tucker Neuhaus (Wharton), SS, Milwaukee Brewers: Neuhaus, picked in the second round a year ago, had a .231 batting average and 45 hits, including 12 doubles, last season at the rookie level. Like Mercado, Neuhaus went through extended spring training and is not yet on a roster in 2014.
High school, major state colleges (locals only) and area small-college players who could be drafted:
Jimmy Gutowski (Monroe CC/Rochester, N.Y.), RHP, Jr.
Lincoln Dunham ( East Lake/SPC), OF, Sr.
Mike Abraham (Worcester, Mass.), C, Jr.
Zack Powers (Armwood), INF, Jr.
Peter Miller (Cambridge Christian), RHP/INF, Sr.
Casey Smit (Alonso/College of Central Florida), INF, Sr.
Alex Faedo, RHP, Alonso
Ryan McCullers, C, Jesuit
Evan Cannan, OF, Jesuit
Hunter Van Horn, LHP, Jesuit
Zach Drury, RHP, Wiregrass Ranch
Cobi Johnson, RHP, Mitchell
Keith Weisenberg, RHP, Osceola
Brad Deppermann, RHP/INF, East Lake
Richie Rivera, OF/INF, St. Petersburg
Brenden Overton, 3B, CCC
St. Petersburg College
Corey Baptist (Seminole High), 1B, Fr.
Levi Borders (Winter Haven), C, So.*
Casey Mulholland (Bradenton/State College of Florida), RHP, Jr.
Lawrence Pardo (Miami/Santa Fe College), LHP, Sr.
Kyle Teaf (Ocala Trinity Catholic), SS, Jr.
*Has been out of high school three years
Note: Coaches from Hillsborough Community College and the University of Tampa did not return calls.