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Former Gulf star Decker watches draft come and go — again

Former Gulf standout Brandon Decker, here playing for South Florida Community College, was not selected in this month’s draft.

Special to the Times

Former Gulf standout Brandon Decker, here playing for South Florida Community College, was not selected in this month’s draft.

For the second straight June, fans, friends and even coaches of ex-Gulf High star Brandon Decker have been left stumped over why the power-hitting outfielder wasn't taken in Major League Baseball's first-year player draft.

On Tuesday, his college skipper offered a viable theory.

Decker recently completed a monstrous junior season (.402, 22 home runs, school season-record 84 RBIs) at Division II Valdosta (Ga.) State following an equally prolific sophomore season (school-record 20 homers, 67 RBIs) at South Florida Community College.

But VSC coach Greg Guilliams said Major League Baseball's financial structure is probably to blame for Decker being bypassed a second straight year.

Because clubs are spending millions on free agents and their first few draft picks, Guilliams suggested, they wait until other less-heralded prospects have completed their senior seasons so they have less bargaining leverage.

"If a guy's not going to be a real high draft pick, they'll just wait until they're seniors," said Guilliams, who watched two of his left-handed pitchers get drafted. "I think Brandon understands. I had talked to him beforehand about it. That doesn't mean he's any less disappointed, but he understands it."

Holy hardware: The postseason accolades continue pouring in for ex-Mitchell High left-hander Patrick Schuster, a University of Florida signee drafted in the 13th round by the Diamondbacks.

Since the draft, Schuster has been chosen as Florida's Mr. Baseball, has been one of 85 players named to the Louisville Slugger High School All-America team, and has been named the National High School Coaches Association's 2009 Senior Athlete of the Year for baseball.

On Tuesday, Schuster, drafted lower than he projected, said via text message that he still hasn't made a decision on his future. When asked if the Diamondbacks have come close to the undisclosed signing bonus Schuster is seeking, he replied, "They're digging deep to find it but not yet."

Shields, Mets set to TALK: former Pasco High shortstop Robbie Shields, drafted in the third round (103rd overall pick) by the Mets, soon should begin talks with the club on a potential contract that could include a six-figure bonus.

Shields, who recently finished his junior season at Division II Florida Southern, is being advised by SFX Baseball's Mark Pieper. The 103rd overall pick of 2008 — Mississippi State right-hander Aaron Weatherford — received a $350,000 signing bonus from the Rockies.

Non-baseball news

Former Springstead two-way football standout Bryce Hollingshead has signed with NAIA program Minot (N.D.) State, Beavers coach Paul Rudolph announced.

Hollingshead becomes the third Eagles athlete to sign with the school in as many months. Girls track athletes Taylor Tuomey and Mirelys Pizarro signed in March.

A 5-foot-11, 170-pound cornerback/running back, Hollingshead registered 43 total tackles and a fumble recovery as a senior. He had a season-high five solo tackles in a 21-17 win at eventual district champ Land O'Lakes.

Joey Knight can be reached at jknight@sptimes.com.

Former Gulf star Decker watches draft come and go — again 06/16/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 9:08pm]

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