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Ridgewood ace waits for The Call

David Doorneweerd is playing hooky Monday. Says he plans to stay home and watch some TV. He may even have a few friends over. Could turn into some party. Especially if Doorneweerd, the Ridgewood High pitching ace, is chosen in the first few rounds of the major league draft of amateur baseball players.

"I'm not going to be in school, I tell you that right now," said Doorneweerd said. "I'll sit around and wait for the call."

The sooner the call, the better, particularly for Doorneweerd's bank account. Doorneweerd said that if he is drafted high enough and the money is right, he will sign a pro contract and walk away from the scholarship he has signed with the University of Georgia.

"I've made it pretty clear that I will be willing to sign," Doorneweerd. "The big things is signability and I'm signable. My goal and dream is to play in the major leagues. But baseball is a business. I don't want to tip my hand, but what we want is pretty substantial.

"We've been visited by a few teams _ the Mariners, Braves and Astros _ but they have kept their poker faces on. They won't say how high they might draft me."

The higher Doorneweerd, the St. Petersburg Times' two-time North Suncoast Player of the Year, is drafted, the larger the signing bonus he will command.

Ridgewood High coach Larry Beets said scouts told him early in the year Doorneweerd would go between the fourth and seventh rounds. But after a dominating season in which Doorneweerd struck out 196 batters in 102 innings (and more importantly, a year in which Doorneweerd's fastball gained two to three miles per hour), scouts are now telling Beets that Doorneweerd may go in the first three rounds.

"First round would be unbelievable," Beets said. "The Reds put a gun on him a few weeks ago and he consistently threw 88 (mph) and he hit 90 a few times. I asked (the scout) what the magic number to project someone to the majors was and he said 86 or 87."

California Angels scout Joe Caro, whose high school team at Tampa Plant has seen Doorneweerd's fastball the past two years, is not sure when Doorneweerd will be drafted.

"David's going to get drafted, he's one of the better pitchers in our area," Caro said. "But I don't see him going in the first round and neither does anyone else. I would say between the fifth and the 20th (round).

"But a team will have to come up with a good figure to sign him. He has a lot of courage and he has pitched in a lot of big games. And he has the prototype body (6-feet-2, 185 pounds) and he still has room to grow. He's going to be a big ol' hoss."

A hoss some team will want, says San Francisco Giants scout Tom Zimmer.

"He's going to go in the first eight rounds," Zimmer said. "I can't say that he is a first-rounder, but anything can happen. Look at Brian McRae a few years ago. No one else had in the first round, but the Royals loved him and took him there.

"Someone is going to fall in love with David Doorneweerd. Someone will pop him early enough that he will get a nice deal. Nice enough not to go to the University of Georgia."

What round does Doorneweerd expect to go in? He isn't sure.

"First round seems a little high," Doorneweerd said. "Possibly the second and more likely the third or fourth. It's really hard to say. I'd feel kind of stupid if I said I'd go high and then not get taken."

And if that is the case, Doorneweerd has something to fall back on.

"He's in a no-lose situation," said Doorneweerd's father, Dennis, his adviser. "Some other kids who don't get drafted don't have college to look forward to. The University of Georgia is a very attractive alternative."

School will be the last thing on Doorneweerd's mind Monday while he plays hooky, hoping to strike it rich.

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