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Jonathan Bobea’s smile spoke volumes.
The Francis Lewis senior has a poker face gamblers would die for. He throws a no-hitter and he hardly cracks a grin, talking about the pitches he failed to execute. But when his name flashed across the computer screen — the Anaheim Angels’ 19th round pick (594th overall) in the MLB First-Year Player Draft — in Coach Ian Millman’s office June 9, the senior could hardly contain himself.
He smiled, leaned back in his chair, clapped his hands, hopped up and gave Millman a hug.
“It was actual excitement,” the third-year coach joked. “Usually you have to put a mirror under his nose to see if he’s breathing.”
Bobea became the first baseball player drafted from Francis Lewis since Mike Jorgensen was taken by the New York Mets in 1966. He was the second PSAL player taken June 8, hours after George Washington star Mike Antonio — his teammate with the New York Nine during the summer — went to the Kansas City Royals in the third round.
“That’s crazy,” the 6-foot, 180-pound righty said. “It just feels good to actually achieve something.”
Under Millman’s tutelage, he led the Patriots to two of the last three Queens A East crowns, the second round of the playoffs the last two years, and he nearly led Lewis to an upset of city powerhouse George Washington May 28, allowing an unearned run in six innings. The last two years, Bobea went 13-2 with 179 strikeouts in 87 1/3 innings pitched and a mere 23 walks.
There were scouts that questioned Bobea’s upside because of his size, but Angels Northeast scouting director Greg Morhardt saw all he needed to see in the loss to the Trojans. Bobea allowed just two hits and struck out 11, rendering a previously nationally ranked fastball-hitting team helpless with a fastball between 89 mph and 93 mph. Morhardt was struck by Bobea’s fastball, how it moved differently with every delivery, sinking one time, cutting the next, then running.
“When a fastball is not predictable, it makes it tougher for the hitter,” he said. “Jonathan naturally has that movement — you can’t teach that, it’s God-given. I expect him to go out and use his fastball and be successful with it. I think it’s an out pitch.”
Millman saw that raw ability in Bobea when he arrived at Lewis three years ago. A former professional pitcher who has coached plenty of draft picks with the New York Nine, Millman made slight alterations to Bobea’s motion. He slowed it down, loosened his arm action and had him incorporate his strong lower body more, instead of it being all-arm.
More than his mechanics, Bobea worked extremely hard, harder than Millman could’ve expected. He was the first one at practice and last to leave, the one leading pre-game exercises and prodding fellow pitchers into running extra laps, doing long toss when maybe his arm needed a break.
“I’m beyond thrilled,” Millman said. “The kid deserved it. Tremendously hard worker, leader, he makes it fun to be a coach.”
True to form, Bobea played down the moment. He said it was “nice” his hard work was realized, but he’s faced plenty of the players that were taken in the draft over the summer, he knew he was on that level, that “it just happened” Anaheim picked him.
Simply getting drafted, Bobea said, isn’t his ultimate goal.
“With hard work and a lot of luck,” he said, “hopefully the chances are in my favor I can pitch in the big leagues.”
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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