After 50 rounds and 1,482 picks, just three Alaskans were selected during Major League Baseball's 2002 First-Year Player Draft held Tuesday and Wednesday in New York City. None of the Alaskans selected came from Southeast.
Levi Robinson, a 6-foot-0, 180-pound senior shortstop at Texas Christian University, was the first Alaskan selected. Robinson, who graduated from Anchorage's Service High School, was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 34th round with the 1,006th overall pick.
Robinson, 22, told the Anchorage Daily News he was listening to the draft on his computer from his college home in Fort Worth, Texas, when he found out he'd been picked.
"It was king of weird," Robinson told the Daily News in a telephone interview. "I was sitting there, thinking they would call me (on the phone) ahead of time or something, and then they call my name. I was running around my apartment with no one to celebrate with. I was real happy."
Robinson said he expects to sign a contract within the next two or three days. Besides playing for Service High School and the Service Post 28 American Legion baseball teams, Robinson also played at Ca-ada Community College in northern California before transferring to NCAA Division I Texas Christian two years ago. Robinson also spent three summers playing for the Anchorage Bucs in the Alaska League and had planned to return for another season when he was drafted.
Levi Robinson, ss, Texas Christian University (Service High School): Selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 34th round (1,006th overall).
Brandon Joseph, of, Dimond High School: Selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 40th round (1,199th overall).
James Bailie, c, Kodiak High School: Selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 44th round (1,318th overall).
Even though he only batted .278 in 51 games for the Horned Frogs this season (good for seventh among TCU hitters), Robinson finished second on the team with a .422 on-base percentage. He also anchored a TCU defense that turned a Conference USA-best 60 double plays.
Besides Robinson, two Alaska high school players were selected in the later rounds of the draft.
Brandon Joseph, a multi-sport star from Dimond High School, was selected as an outfielder by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 40th round with the 1,199th overall pick. Besides playing baseball for the Lynx, Joseph earned all-state honors when he played on Dimond's football and basketball teams. Joseph also ran track and early in his high school career was a member of the swim team. Joseph has been on Dimond's football and basketball teams when they have played in Juneau in recent years.
The final Alaska player selected in the draft was James Bailie, a catcher from Kodiak High School who was picked by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 44th round with the 1,318th overall pick. Bailie was a member of Kodiak's state championship-winning basketball team in 2001.
This year's draft opened on Tuesday when the Pittsburgh Pirates made Ball State University right-handed pitcher Bryan Bullington the first pick of the draft. It ended when the St. Louis Cardinals made pitcher John Powell of McGehee High School in Arkansas the 1,482nd player chosen and last player in the 50th round.
During the first round and supplemental round on Tuesday, four former Alaska League players were selected.
The quartet was led by 2001 Alaska League player of the year and National Baseball Congress World Series MVP Jeff Francis, a left-handed pitcher from the University of British Columbia who threw for the Anchorage Bucs before being picked up by the Anchorage Glacier Pilots for their NBC World Series title run. Francis was selected ninth overall by the Colorado Rockies and has already agreed to terms with an expected bonus of $1.85 million.
Also selected in the first round were San Diego State left-handed pitcher Royce Ring, a 2000 Anchorage Glacier Pilot, who went to the Chicago White Sox with the 18th overall pick; Fresno State right-handed pitcher Ben Fritz, who was an all-Alaska League designated hitter-utility player last year, went to the Oakland Athletics with the 30th overall pick; and St. Mary's College infielder Mark Teahan, who played for the Kenai Peninsula Oilers last summer before joining the Pilots in the NBC World Series, was a supplemental round pick by the Oakland A's and the 39th player chosen.
Last year, three Alaskans were picked in the draft, led by Long Beach State left-handed pitcher Chad Bentz of Juneau, who was selected in the seventh round by the Montreal Expos with the 203rd overall pick. Bentz's selection was the third-highest ever by an Alaska player. Bentz is currently playing for the Brevard County (Fla.) Manatees in the Florida State League, the Expos' top Class A minor league affiliate.
The largest group of Alaskans to be selected in one draft was in 1999, when four players were selected. That quartet included two Juneau players -- Bentz, who was a 34th-round pick by New York Yankees, and right-handed pitcher Toby Staveland, who was a 44th-round pick by the Atlanta Braves.
The highest pick for an Alaskan was in 2000 when current University of California-Berkley right-handed pitcher Brian Montalbo (then of Dimond High School) was chosen by the Atlanta Braves with the last pick of the fourth round. Montalbo chose not to sign with the Braves so he could play college baseball and he will become eligible for the 2003 draft.
The only other time an Alaskan was selected in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft was in 1994 when the San Diego Padres selected East Anchorage High School third baseman Trajan Langdon.
Langdon signed with the Padres, which meant he had to relinquish his basketball scholarship at Duke University, but his deal included the Padres picking up his college tab while Langdon played hoops for the Blue Devils. Langdon was later released by the Padres and was selected in the first round of the 1999 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Langdon, an off guard, just finished his third year with the Cavs as the first Alaskan NBA player, but he is now a free agent.
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