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Another Weeks makes his mark

Another Weeks makes his mark

MIAMI -- Jemile Weeks remembers being in this situation all too well.

It was three years ago that the University of Miami infielder's name was being brought up as the First-Year Player Draft approached.

Back then, in 2005, Weeks was a raw talent fresh out of Lake Brantley High School and weighing a scrawny 155 pounds when he was selected in the eighth round by the Brewers -- when his brother, Rickie, was a prospect in the Milwaukee farm system.

But in a time when fame and the almighty dollar often far outweighs an education, Weeks took the high road by turning down over $800,000 and going to college.

"It was tough being a kid coming out of high school and seeing your dreams starting to happen," Weeks said. "I just prayed to God things turned out well."

It seems like they have.

Weeks has overcome a hamstring/groin injury that forced him to miss 11 games his sophomore year and is busting out in a big way as a junior. After deciding to skip out on summer ball for the first time in his life to get healthy, the speedy switch-hitting second baseman is batting at a .375 clip with 10 home runs, 48 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 17 attempts.

Adding to his play on the field, Weeks was one of four UM players named to the revised watch list for the Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Award, was the No. 19 college prospect in the preseason Baseball America poll and is listed by Rivals.com as the third-ranked middle infielder in the nation.

So, despite the uneasiness that comes with the approaching First-Year Player Draft on June 5, Weeks -- now at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds -- may be a bit more prepared this time around.

"It was great for him [to go to college] because it made him mature as a hitter," said UM first baseman Yonder Alonso, who's known Weeks since they were in high school. "I think it was a good decision for him. It helped him mature on and off the field."

On top of being a star prospect, Weeks is in the middle of one of the more potent lineups in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and part of arguably the best team in the country. After their win against North Florida on Tuesday, the No. 1-ranked Hurricanes sit at 42-6, are winners of nine of their last 10 games and own the second-best batting average in the ACC (behind Florida State).

Now, Weeks has a chance to cap his collegiate career by winning a National Championship with the team he grew up rooting for.

"UM was always my choice. There was never anybody else," Weeks said. "Every time I looked on TV, they were winning championships, and I wanted to be a part of that."

Although his brother is now a star second baseman for the Brewers making millions of dollars, it's Jemile who's living out Rickie's dream every time he puts on his uniform.

Coming out of high school, Rickie badly wanted to play for UM, but coach Jim Morris wasn't interested. After seeing the player Rickie has blossomed into, however, Morris made sure he didn't miss the next time a Weeks came around.

"Rickie came by our camp -- he did want to come here -- and he was a little rough around the edges," Morris said. "But it wasn't just us [who didn't take him]. Nobody recruited him.

"Before Jemile even came in to camp, I told his father, 'I'm not screwing this up twice.'"

Weeks called himself a "tag-along brother" while growing up at Rickie's side. And although over 1,400 miles now separate them, Rickie and Jemile remain close.

"I hope the world for him," Rickie said. "We still talk all the time. ... The biggest thing for him, he's the type of guy that's really humble, so he's going to go out there and work hard every day. There are some things we try to instill in him, but he's his own man, and he's going to do really good for himself."

Rickie and Jemile are the latest in a long line of Weeks family members who were prominent in baseball -- a list that includes his grandfather, Victor, who played in the Negro Leagues and is now blind because of glaucoma.

As expected, Jemile Weeks was practically born knowing the fundamentals of turning a double play and hitting to the opposite field. He grew up in Altamonte Springs, went on to shine at nearby Lake Brantley -- where he hit .472 as a junior -- and, after his senior year, Weeks had a tough decision to make when the Brewers offered him up to $855,000. Weeks was already enrolled at UM at the time and was on his way to class, but had to keep tabs with his dad on the phone while he negotiated Weeks' contract to see if the Brewers would up their ante.

They eventually didn't, and Weeks went to class instead of the pros.

This time around, however, there shouldn't be any kind of indecision -- unless Weeks feels disrespected again.

"I feel like I'm somewhere in the top [among college middle infielders]," Weeks said. "I don't have a number in my head [of where I think I'll go in the Draft].

"We'll just see if teams treat me well this time."

Alden Gonzalez is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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