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 for East Lake, which made the Class 7A state final. He already has an offer to play at North Florida.
"It could happen," Deppermann said of going in the MLB first-year player draft, which starts Thursday. "I thought it could be possible when the season started."
Overton, who led the county with seven home runs, said playing in Sebring was highly beneficial.
"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.
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.