SJU’s best power hitter picked by Padres in draft

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What a week it has been for the St. John’s baseball team.

Two days after beating North Carolina and getting past the NCAA Regionals for the first time since 1980, the Red Storm had four players taken in the top six rounds of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft Friday, headlined by junior left fielder Jeremy Baltz going in the second round (68th overall) to the San Diego Padres.

“It’s been a special year,” St. John’s Coach Ed Blankmeyer said.

Senior shortstop Matt Wessinger followed in the fifth round (No. 168) to the Rockies and junior right-handers Matt Carasiti and Kyle Hansen went within four picks of each other in the sixth round. Carasiti was taken 198th by the Rockies and Hansen went 201st to the White Sox. Hansen’s brother, Craig, was a first-round pick out of St. John’s in 2005.

Baltz, a Vestal, N.Y., native, arguably is the best power hitter in St. John’s history. He is the all-time leader in home runs (38) and RBIs (196) and is coming off MVP honors at the Chapel Hill Regional of the NCAA tournament.

“He’s one of the premier hitters in the country,” Blankmeyer said.

Wessinger was the biggest surprise. He was taken in the 37th round last year by the Royals, but returned and his stock soared. Carasiti is coming off MVP honors in the Big East tournament, where he won two games, including the championship against South Florida.

The Red Storm played a best-of-three series at Arizona in the Super Regionals Friday.

“This is just icing on the cake right now,” Baltz said of being drafted.

The top New York City high school player taken yesterday was Fordham Prep shortstop Andrew Velazquez, who went in the seventh round (No. 243) to the Diamondbacks.

Velazquez, who is committed to Virginia Tech, is the highest Catholic high school player taken from the city since Xaverian’s Danny Christensen went in the fourth round in 2002 and the first Fordham Prep baseball player to be drafted.

Posted 10:22 am, June 14, 2012
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