By: Dom Cotroneo and Ralph Amsden
In a draft that featured East Valley stars Dustin Peterson and Riley Unroe’s names called on the first day, the city of Chandler saw their local products Patrick Murphy (Hamilton), Cody Bellinger (Hamilton), and Jamie Westbrook (Basha) selected in day two of the MLB First-Year Player draft.
Patrick Murphy was first off the board, selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the third round with the 83rd overall pick. The Husky right-hander missed the 2013 baseball season due to recovering from “Tommy John” surgery in his elbow; but the Jays must have seen enough of him in his junior season while they scouted Mitch Nay (drafted in 1st supplemental round in 2012 by Blue Jays-58th overall). Murphy commented he always knew it would either be the Blue Jays or the Philadelphia Phillies, but he was stunned how early he was selected. Some writers seem to think there’s still a chance Murphy honors his commitment to Oregon, but Murphy has already left for Florida to take a team physical.
Cody Bellinger, another new Hamilton alum, was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers as the 124th pick overall. Listed by the Dodgers as a first baseman, Bellinger’s luster was aided by his 4-0 record on the mound as a lefty along with a 1.24 ERA. Cody also led the Huskies with a .429 batting average and was 3rd on the team with 19 RBIs. He’ll likely stay at at first base in his journey to the league if he chooses that route-Bellinger is a University of Oregon commit, but agreed to terms with the Dodgers prior to his selection even being announced. He tweeted this after he was selected:
I just want to thank everyone who has helped me get here! I am proud to say I am OFFICIALLY APART OF THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS ORGANIZATION!!!
— Cody Bellinger (@CodyBellinger8) June 7, 2013
For Jamie Westbrook, the Arizona Diamondbacks take the Pepperdine commit with the 150th pick overall in the 5th round. Westbrook’s play raised eyebrows across the valley, especially in his junior year effort in which he hit for a .532 batting average while collecting 13 homers. His numbers slightly slowed between years but he still finished second in the state in home runs both seasons with 11 his senior year. He commented this afternoon after his selection to the Diamondbacks:
“Thank you to my parents, my family, friends, and support system as a whole! I’m so honored and feel humbled for my hard work and dedication to finally pay off! I’m proud to be an Arizona Diamondback and I will always be a Basha Bear!”
Westbrook and the rest of the draftees have until July 12th to agree to a contract, otherwise they will head to their college commitments. Few would’ve been surprised if Westbrook chose to delay his shot at the MLB in favor of his commitment to Pepperdine, but Westbrook told reporters he planned to sign with Arizona while he was at the ballpark on Saturday, taking batting practice with legendary hitting coach Don Baylor. Westbrook even managed to hit a home run.
There were several more Chander-area players selected on day 3 of the draft. Basha’s Mike Benjamin was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 45th round right out of high school (2010), but chose to play three season for Arizona State instead. The Rockies never lost sight of Benjamin, and used a 13th round selection on him that will likely means his ASU playing days are over with.
After selecting Bellinger, the Dodgers didn’t stop looking for talent in Chandler, picking pitcher M.J. Villegas and outfielder Matt Haggerty from Seton Catholic Prep. Villegas was taken in the 23rd round (694th overall), while Haggerty was selected in the 40th and final round. Haggerty has told us that he intends to play for Grand Canyon University next season.
Darian Johnson, who went from Chandler High, to Mesa Community College, to Lamar University, was picked in the 32nd round by the Chicago White Sox. Johnson is an incredibly gifted hitter who led Lamar in batting average in 2012 (.344) and 2013 (.371).
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