Braves select Montalbo in fourth round

Posted: Tuesday, June 06, 2000

ANCHORAGE -- An Anchorage player was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the fourth round of the amateur baseball draft -- the highest an Alaskan ever has been chosen.

Brian Montalbo, who recently graduated from Dimond High School, said he has dreamed of playing in the majors since he was a Little League player.

His dream got a little help Monday, when the 18-year-old pitcher/shortstop was the 130th player chosen.

``It's pretty exciting, and Atlanta is my favorite team,'' Montalbo said during a break from warmups for Monday night's American Legion game between Dimond and West at the Kosinski Fields. ``I don't think it's hit me yet.''

The 6-foot-4-inch, 210-pound right-hander said he was sitting on his porch and enjoying the sun when the Braves called about 10:30 a.m. to tell him about his selection. Montalbo's pick beat the 1994 sixth-round pick by the San Diego Padres of Trajan Langdon, who is currently playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA.

``I think they not only looked at him as a pitcher, but they liked his athleticism, too,'' said Dimond manager Joel Summers. ``It helps our program a lot, and it's good for Alaska baseball, overall. Some scouts have already been asking about and looking at other kids.''

Montalbo was scouted during the high-school season, and Braves' representatives still were looking at him as late as last week. Baseball America rated Montalbo its 49th-best high school draft prospect in February.

Thirty scouts were in the stands at Mulcahy Stadium in a game against Bartlett on May 6.

``It was kind of weird because it seemed like they were the only ones in the stands,'' Montalbo said. ``But I was excited, too, because we don't get to play a lot in Alaska. Up here, you basically learn in every single game because the season is short.''

In May, the Atlanta Braves signed former Juneau-Douglas High School pitcher Toby Staveland to a minor league contract. The Braves picked Staveland in the 44th round of last year's draft, one of four Alaskans picked in last year's draft. So far in this year's draft, which concludes today, Montalbo is the only announced selection from Alaska.

Montalbo plans to decide over the next few days if he'll sign with Atlanta or go to the University of California on a baseball scholarship.

He said he's also considering playing out the Legion season and making a decision at the end of the summer.

If he signs, he likely would report to the Braves' Gulf Coast League affiliate in Celebration City, Fla. The Gulf Coast League is for rookies.

If he opts for California, then he'd be eligible for the draft again in his junior year.

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