Focus on Sports
West, drafted by pros, chose Chesapeake instead

Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2007

WYE MILLS – There have been a lot of "firsts" for Chesapeake College´s baseball program in Frank Szymanski´s eight years as head coach, including the college´s first-ever World Series appearance in 2005. Another milestone was reached this year when Eddie West became the first player selected in the professional baseball draft to suit up for the Skipjacks.

"Three kids from my school (Virginia´s Gar-Field High School) had already played here," said West, who was a 42nd-round selection by the Atlanta Braves organization in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. "They always came back home and talked to me about how great it was to play at Chesapeake."

Szymanski said Robbie Miller, one of the Gar-Field graduates who played at Chesapeake, brought West to his attention.

"I was immediately impressed with Eddie´s velocity," said Szymanski. "Then when we saw him hit, we could see he was a very good hitter, too."

Atlanta Braves scout Bobby Myrick said the Braves drafted West as a "draft-and-follow" player – a term referring to when a team drafts a player with the intention of not immediately signing him, but monitoring his freshman season in college to see if he should be signed prior to the following year´s draft.

"He´s a quality kid, and he´s left-handed, which means a lot," said Myrick, noting the importance organizations place on acquiring left-handed pitchers. "We spent all summer, fall, and spring watching his progression.

"A lot of times draft-and-follow players make it to the big leagues," noted Myrick. "(Current New York Yankees catcher) Jorge Posada was a draft-and-follow out of a JC (junior college) in Alabama."

Szymanski did his best to sell Chesapeake to the talented West, who played center field and pitched for the 30-21 Skipjacks this spring. West said he was pleased with his decision to come to Chesapeake.

"We see a lot of good pitching and very competitive teams," said West, who was named to the all-NJCAA Division I Region XX second team. "I love to play against good competition."

West hit .353 with three home runs, 18 RBI, 21 runs and 15 extra-base hits this season while posting a 2-1 pitching record with a save. He said the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference competition has helped improve his game.

West also said he enjoyed his freshman year at Chesapeake.

"I like it here," said West. "Coach (Szymanski) is a very good coach, and it´s a great program and a great school."

Myrick said the Braves organization was pleased to have West playing under Szymanski.

"I´ve been in this business for 21 years. You hear names when you´re out there, and I´ve always heard nice things about Frank," said Myrick. "I think young people benefit from having the chance to play under him."

Now, West faces another decision. The Braves organization has until June 7th – the first day of the 2007 amateur draft – to sign West. If the Braves do not sign him, he will be eligible for selection in this year´s draft.

West could then sign with the organization that drafts him or, if undrafted, sign with any organization. He always retains the option to return to college, which would certainly please Szymanski.

"He did very well for us," said Szymanski. "He´s very coachable and he played hard. Eddie´s a great competitor."

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