As Patrick Schuster's no-hit performances accumulated in April, so did questions about the draft.
The response from Mitchell's mesmerizing left-hander generally was the same: If a substantial pro offer didn't come along, his scholarship to the University of Florida was a darned nice security blanket.
Now, he just might be wrapping himself in it.
Schuster's disappointment Wednesday may have been Gainesville's glee. The Arizona Diamondbacks' 13th-round pick in Major League Baseball's first-year player draft, Schuster was the 396th overall player taken. By contrast, Baseball America recently ranked him the nation's No. 164 overall draft prospect (college and prep).
"I expected to go a little higher," said Schuster, reached by phone Wednesday at New Port Richey's Magnolia Valley Golf Club. "I don't know really (why he fell to the 13th round). I haven't talked to anybody yet. They haven't told me."
Schuster's selection capped what he called a "pretty hectic" 20 or so hours that began with the start of the draft Tuesday evening. When he wasn't taken in the first three rounds, he went to bed "a little disappointed" and hit the golf course Wednesday to take his mind off things.
He shot to national fame when he tossed a state-record four consecutive no-hitters in April, but was on college and pro scouts' proverbial radar long before. A breakout junior season, highlighted by a 20-strikeout effort at Gulf, was followed by a series of solid performances at some national "showcase" events over the summer.
Schuster finished his senior year 8-1 with a 0.93 ERA, striking out 115 and walking only 29 in 60 innings. His 90-mph fastball, and knee-buckling slider delivered from a three-quarter arm slot, have been widely lauded.
But a recent scouting report from Baseball America said "his slight frame (6-foot-2, 170 pounds) lends little future projection, and scouts agreed he might even lose some deception as he fills out physically."
Now, Schuster, his family and New Hampshire-based adviser Jim Munsey — a New England attorney who counsels and represents pro ballplayers — will sit down and discuss their options.
But when asked Wednesday if the money he could be offered as a 13th-round pick will be enough to sway him from UF, Schuster said, "Probably not."
Twins take Jesuit SS: Jesuit shortstop Nick Lockwood committed to USF in his junior season. Now, he has an interesting decision to make after the Minnesota Twins drafted him in the ninth round.
"It was incredibly special," Lockwood said. "I'm beyond excited."
Lockwood was taken with the 282nd overall pick, the highest bay area selection Wednesday.
"It's cool getting drafted," he said. "But college has always been something that's been my main goal. Right now, I'm not leaning either way."
Lockwood hit .380 with five homers and 26 RBIs for the Tigers, who spent several weeks ranked as the No. 1 team in the country. He injured his ankle in the regular-season finale, missing three district tournament games.
He had participated in a workout with the Twins leading up to the draft. One factor that might come into play: Lockwood's brother, former Jesuit standout Ryan Lockwood, is a draft-eligible underclassman at USF.
former tiger an a's pick: Former Jesuit pitcher Sam Dyson, who has been playing collegiately at South Carolina, was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the 10th round (303rd). Dyson, who was drafted out of Jesuit in the 19th round in 2006 by the Nationals, was 9-4 with a 5.21 ERA with the Gamecocks this past spring. The right-hander held opponents to a .237 batting average.
Scouts love his 97 mph fastball and he had 89 strikeouts and walked just 33 in 95 innings this season as a redshirt sophomore. He has added a 82 mph curve. Dyson overcame right labrum surgery that kept him out as a freshman at South Carolina to become the Gamecocks' ace.
Hernando coach doubles up: Hernando softball coach Kevin Bittinger's winter months just got a lot busier.
Bittinger also will coach the Leopards girls basketball team, athletic director John Palmer announced Wednesday, creating some scheduling issues when those sports overlap in January and February.
So how will Bittinger deal with them? "Time management skills," he said Wednesday.
"Casey Ellis is a good assistant in softball. She's as good an assistant as you can have. I've already talked with her about it and she said she'll help in any way she can."
Bittinger, who coached girls basketball two successful seasons at Powell Middle School, replaces Pete Lahey, who had some "family issues" that forced him to resign, Palmer said.
"The thing about Kevin is his temperament with the kids," Palmer said. "He does an outstanding job with the kids on a daily basis."
Bittinger will relinquish his duties as girls golf coach, Palmer said.
Gator to Polk CC: Land O'Lakes outfielder Curt Hilgenberg, a first-team pick on the Times' 2009 all-North Suncoast team, has been invited to walk on for the fall season at Polk Community College, his parents announced.
As a senior, Hilgenberg led the Gators in batting average (.464) and RBIs (25), and tied for the team lead in hits (32) and doubles (seven). Polk CC is coached by former University of Florida skipper Joe Arnold.