Most high school graduates are frantically searching for summer jobs or shopping for dorm room essentials. Chad James, Bryan Berglund, and Marquise Cooper won't have to worry about selling popcorn at movie theaters or cutting grass for neighbors because they have the option to play professional baseball for the Florida Marlins.
All fresh out of high school and younger than Nintendo's GameBoy, pitchers James and Berglund were selected in rounds one and two respectively. Outfielder Cooper went in the third round.James pitched for Yukon High School in Oklahoma and compiled some impressive statistics; he was 8-2 while holding opposing teams to just 1.23 earned runs per game. The 6-foot-3 lefty struck out 100 batters in just 63 1/3 innings with a blazing fastball that has been clocked at 93-94 miles per hour. James' heater and penchant for striking out hitters has scouts likening him to Boston Red Sox lefty Jon Lester, who has thrown a no-hitter and owns a World Series ring.
Berglund played his prep baseball in California for Royal High School. The 6-foot-4 righty went 5-2 with a 1.58 earned run average and has touched 94 miles per hour on the radar gun. At just 180 pounds, scouts believe he can add some velocity to his fastball. Berglund has also been compared to retired pitcher Mike Mussina, winner of 270 games over an illustrious 18 year big-league career.
Also out of California, Cooper played baseball and football for Edison High School. The 5-foot-9 centerfielder has terrific athleticism and projects to be a top of the order hitter much like former Marlin Juan Pierre as both players rely more on the infield hit rather than the home run.
The Marlins have an impressive track record when drafting high schoolers over college players. The current starting rotation features Sean West, Chris Volstad, and Josh Johnson; none of them attended college. The Marlins also drafted and groomed Red Sox superstar Josh Beckett out of high school. Then there are AJ Burnett, Dontrelle Willis, and Brad Penny. They starred for the Fish and never attended college.
Teams will select players in rounds 4-30 today and rounds 31-50 on Thursday completing the 2009 MLB draft.