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Saugus draft party

Posted: June 7, 2008 2:27 a.m.
Updated: August 8, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Travis Babin

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• Four Centurion graduates are taken in first 16 rounds of the draft, including pitchers Michael Hebert in the seventh round and Shawn Smith in the ninth 

When the Tampa Bay Rays selected Shawn Smith in the Major League Baseball draft Friday, he was of all places, sleeping.

"I was woken up by my parents screaming I was picked in the ninth round," Smith said.

An excited Smith, who was taken 263rd overall then arose, picked up his phone and called Saugus teammate Michael Hebert.

"We made it to the show," Smith joked to Hebert on the phone.

Hebert, a right-handed pitcher, was also drafted, in the seventh round by the New York Mets. Aside from reaching the first step of their baseball dreams, the two had another thing in common.

Like Smith, Hebert was asleep when he got the call at eight in the morning. Except it wasn't one of those annoying early morning phone calls. Hebert was told he'd be taken somewhere between the 7th and the 16th round, and although he got his hopes a few times on the first day, the seventh round suits him just fine.

"It worked out pretty good for myself and just so many emotions are going through my body," Hebert said.

On Sunday, Hebert will officially sign his contract and on Tuesday he'll report to rookie ball in St. Lucie, Florida.

Smith, who played just eight games for Saugus, said he'd " probably sign" but isn't completely ruling out attending Cal State Northridge, where he previously committed. Though he didn't have a numerical figure, Smith said the right amount of money would make him a member of the Rays organization.

"I'm pretty anxious because I want to start my career," Smith said.

Saugus' second day draft story didn't stop there.

Tommy Milone, who went to USC after Saugus, was taken in the 10th round by the Washington Nationals and Travis Babin who attended Sonoma State went in the 16th round to the Mets.

Milone was at his computer watching MLB.com's draft tracker when he saw his name pop up. He thought he'd be taken in the top 10 rounds.

"For me, it's just exciting the feeling of waiting for my name to be called and then being called when I wanted it to," Milone said.

Milone wasn't drafted out of high school, and he credited the USC coaching staff and reaching a higher maturity level for his success. After an up-and-down first two seasons, Milone led the Trojans with a 3.51 ERA and struck out 98 batters against 20 walks this year.

According to Maggiora, the last time a Saugus player was taken directly out of high school was Roger Salkeld in 1989. Salkeld was drafted as the No. 3 overall pick, the highest an area baseball player has ever been drafted by a Major League team.

This year, the Centurions had two.

"It's kind of cool," said Saugus coach John Maggiora who coached Smith and Hebert.

Maggiora, who said both guys were blessed with good throwing arms, thinks Hebert and Smith have what it takes to succeed as professionals.

"If they can survive those first couple of years, the sky is the limit," he said.

And he hopes their draft status rubs off on his current and future players.

"Hopefully the younger guys say if it happened to them, it could happen to me," Maggiora said.

Several other players with Santa Clarita ties were also drafted. Fresno State's Stephen Susdorf, a former Hart player was taken in the 19th round by the Philadelphia Phillies.

His brother, Danny was a senior outfielder for Hart this season.

College of the Canyons pitcher China McCarney was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 29th round, joining COC outfielder Tyreace House, who was taken in the 6th round by the Oakland Athletics on day one.

Former Valencia player Virgil Hill was taken by the Athletics out of Mission College in the 35th round, a year after being taken in the 22nd round.

"I think that just shows how good the talent is out here," Milone said.

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