Prep prospects thrilled Draft Day arrives

Top high schoolers tour Big Apple, Fan Cave, speak with Commissioner before event

Prep prospects thrilled Draft Day arrives

SECAUCUS, N.J. -- They were seven high-school prospects with a dream.

Now they can begin living it.

This year's Draft attendees -- who enjoyed a tour of Citi Field and the MLB Fan Cave earlier in the day -- included shortstop Nick Gordon of Olympia High in Florida (No. 5 by Minnesota), left-hander Kodi Medeiros of Waiakea High in Hawaii (No. 12 by Milwaukee), right-hander Grant Holmes of Conway High in South Carolina (No. 22 by the Dodgers), outfielder Derek Hill of Elk Grove High in California (No. 23 by Detroit), shortstop Michael Chavis of Sprayberry High in Georgia (No. 26 by Boston), shortstop Jacob Greenwood of Clovis High in California (No. 41 by Milwaukee) and outfielder Monte Harrison of Lee's Summit West High in Missouri (No. 57 by Milwaukee).

"It's been a great night -- unpredictable night," said Gordon, who now can work toward becoming the third Major Leaguer in his family, after his father Tom, the 21-year pitcher, and brother Dee, current Dodgers second baseman. "This has been a great feeling for all the families here, and to get this experience was a great thing. A couple of guys may not have gone where they wanted to, but I mean it's still a blessing to be able to be here and to get drafted. The ultimate goal is to play pro ball and be in the Major Leagues. So this is only one step there, and we want to get the whole piece of the pie. From this day on, we've got to work hard."

"It's an incredible honor to be out here, just to be invited to this," said Chavis, who was sky-high with elation after donning a Red Sox jersey, growing up in the thick of a Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. "Coming into this, I wasn't too good of friends with these guys. I knew them, I played with them in the [Perfect Game] All-American game, but since we went through this today, I feel like we've gotten a lot tighter and become a lot closer."

As expected, Gordon was the first to go. He shared the moment with his parents, including his beaming father, who "thought I was being drafted into the Armed Forces" when his own father informed him in 1986 that he was drafted -- in the sixth round.

Thursday's selections capped a day when these seven prospects and their families toured New York, and Nick asked a question of Commissioner Bud Selig in a special Q&A at the Fan Cave.

"Going into the Draft tonight, what would be some advice you can give to us players?" Nick asked.

Selig considered the question and thought about some of the many players who have gone on to greatness and the many who have faded from view. It was just five years ago that a New Jersey prospect known as "Michael" Trout was the lone Draft attendee in the Studio 42 dugout, along with his family, and that obviously worked out.

"You all are here, and you all have a lot of ability, and that's a great thing," Selig replied. "Wherever you get drafted, go there and work like hell. Just work hard and dedicate yourself. Let me tell you something. The players that I've seen go into the Hall of Fame worked hard. They all had ability -- lots of it -- but they worked hard. Henry Aaron, 23 years and never was on the disabled list, worked hard, dedicated himself to being the best. I've seen a lot of guys have a lot of ability and never used it -- never understood what they were to do."

Gordon called it "great advice for me," and hours later he was on the phone with the Twins front office. He was told "they were glad to have me in the organization and that my skills and my makeup and my bloodlines are some of the things that really caught their attention. He told me to just be ready to come out and play, and I'm ready."

"I'm really proud of the way he handled this, the way he's prepared, the work and effort he has put forth on and off the field," Tom Gordon said after hugging his son. "Things that he's done that's made him a much better player, a good person in the community, things we all want our kids to do and do well. Thank God it's all gone well, so this is a proud moment. It's hard to describe."

Medeiros was the second of the attendees to hear his name called. An avid spearfisherman, he said he "shot" his biggest fish, a nine-pound parrotfish, before making this trip from Hawaii. He said there was no way he was missing the chance to be at the Draft. He said Shane Victorino, the "Flyin' Hawaiian," sent him a good-luck text a night earlier.

"When they sent the invitation, I told my parents we are going to attend this, and they were going to attend it, too," Madeiros said. "I feel so accomplished, and it means a lot to all the people who helped me, and it means a lot to Hawaii. It's been an amazing experience. Getting to see my friends from Perfect Game All-American, catching up with them, we've just had a great day."

Hill was here from Sacramento, Calif., with four other family members, including his father, Orsino, who had played 12 years in the pros, all in the Minors. They enjoyed the full treatment in New York, and Derek said before the Draft started that he got "chills" when he saw Willie Mays' cleats in a Mets Hall of Fame exhibit during the Citi Field tour. Now he is a Tiger, in the same organization as his favorite player, outfielder Torii Hunter.

"It's absolutely surreal," Hill said. "I've always modeled my game after him on and off the field, and it's a great feeling to be a part of his organization, pretty much. I met him two days ago at the workout (at Comerica Park). He took care of me, so it was good. Just to meet up and see the great guy I thought he was."

What was it like to be part of the magnificent seven at this Draft?

"It was very mixed emotions," he said. "I'm very excited right now; I can't even keep the smile off my face. I'm very happy it went the way it did and I'm ready to get after it."

Chavis' selection by the Red Sox elicited a roar among his family in attendance at Studio 42. The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry has been his world, and he even attended the final game between those clubs at old Yankee Stadium in 2008. He called Thursday "a dream come true."

"I grew up split between the Yankees and the Red Sox, because half of my mom's side loves the Red Sox and half of it also loves the Yankees," he explained. "My grandpa, my grandma and all them love the Yankees, but then all my cousins and uncles are diehard Red Sox fans. So depending on what house I go to, it depends on what kind of fan I was, because I didn't want to get kicked out of the house."

Gatewood slid to Compensation Round A but left with a big smile on his face nonetheless. His father, Henry, was a winter-draftee in 1982 by the Dodgers (playing his pro career in the Minors) and counseled him throughout that "it's just more teams to prove wrong."

"It's a dream come true," Gatewood said of his day and night in the New York metro area. "I can probably speak for all these guys when I say that just to be here and be rewarded with all this different stuff, we've been working hard for a while now, so to be rewarded is pretty cool."

Harrison did not stay around for his selection, which came in the second round. Immediately before the first selection, he had said: "It's been a long journey, just to know this is the day you've been striving for, and it's here now. So it's kind of weird, but at the same time you're here to have fun and ready to get it started. You've just got to come out here and have fun, and however it falls, whatever happens, happens."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Read and join other baseball fans on his community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.