Crowd of talented tryouts makes Suns cuts difficult

SIDELINES

August 29, 1993|By PAT O'MALLEY

Nearly 50 county players tried out last week for the 14th annual Anne Arundel County Sun-Oriolelanders All Star Baseball Game, which will be played next Sunday at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.

Paring down the list to 20-22 players (ages 15-21) was no easy job for coaches Frank Klebe, Jim Simms and yours truly.

The final Suns team will be announced on Tuesday, and that club will play the Oriolelanders, a team of the best high school prospects in the Mid-Atlantic area.

Baltimore Orioles scouting supervisor Jim Gilbert and his son, Tom, are selecting the Oriolelanders at tryouts in Frederick this weekend. It's possible a few Anne Arundel County players might make the Oriolelanders, which opens up more opportunities for county players to make the Suns.

Last year, Arundel first baseman Tim Giles, Severna Park catcher John Milisitz and Northeast pitcher Chris Kelly played for the Oriolelanders. Giles and Milisitz were members of The Baltimore Sun's All-Metro team.

Giles, The Baltimore Sun's Baseball Player of the Year, led Arundel to an unprecedented sixth state championship, was drafted on the 43rd round by the Orioles and will attend UNC at Greensboro on a baseball scholarship.

Milisitz, who received a baseball scholarship to UMBC, signed as a free agent with the Milwaukee Brewers and is playing in the Rookie League in Montana. Kelly received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.

More than 100 players who have appeared in the game either have been drafted or signed pro contracts and about the same number have received college scholarships.

In many cases, outstanding performances in the game opened the gates for scores of players.

Probably the only thing the Suns have not accomplished with the game is to beat the Oriolelanders more often. The Oriolelanders lead the series, 9-4, winning the last two in a row and eight of the last nine. The Suns last won by 4-1 on Sept. 16, 1990 in the grand opening at Cannon Stadium.

The addition of Klebe and Simms as coaches may change all that this year. They are proven coaches who know the county kids well.

Klebe, who runs the top-notch B.A.T. Inc. youth instructional camps during the summer and is soon to open an indoor batting facility in the county, is a former minor-league coach in the Orioles and Cleveland Indians' organizations.

In addition, Klebe is the third-base coach for Clayton Jacobson at Anne Arundel Community College and an Orioles' associate scout.

Simms led Chesapeake into the Class 4A Region IV playoffs and an overall 12-7 record in just his second year as head coach of the Cougars.

Chesapeake was a weak-hitting club and relied on the pitching of All-County left-hander Jason White and Simms' ability to manufacture runs.

A knowledgeable coach, Simms also is a great communicator with young athletes and has extensive experience at the high school level as an assistant in both baseball and football.

Both Klebe and Simms were impressed with the talent that came out this week.

"Looks like we've got plenty of good pitching and several outstanding position players," said Simms.

After timing all the players in the 60-yard -- Friday at Cannon Stadium, Klebe said that "we don't have a lot of speed, but we've got some guys who can swing the bat and defensively we should be pretty good."

Among the better hitters are Anne Arundel Community College second-year starters, catcher Rich Spiegel (Northeast) and center fielder Chris Durocher (Arundel), not to mention Arundel High's All-County senior shortstop Jeff Hedrick.

After playing a key role in Arundel's state 4A championship season, Hedrick, who hit .421 this spring with 26 runs scored, led Mayo Post No. 226 into the semifinals of the American Legion East Regional in Boyertown, Pa.

Mayo (63-11 overall) was eliminated last week 7-4 by Rockland, N.Y., but coach Bernie Walter said the loss didn't diminish the team's accomplishments.

"The eventual national American Legion champion more often than not comes out of the East Region and there were six very good teams there this year," said Walter. "I thought we beat three really good teams in the regional, including Delaware, knocking out Hackett."

Jason Hackett, a left-hander from Caravel Academy, was drafted in the fourth round by the Orioles in June, but the club has been unable to sign him. Hackett pitched for the Oriolelanders last fall and is asking for more money than the Orioles are willing to give up.

"We had a great group of kids to coach and the parents let us coach. The parents were great and didn't interfere and understood what we were trying to do. I can't say enough about the outstanding coaching jobs turned in by John Hall [pitching coach] and Pat Overton [third-base coach]. Those two had a lot to do with our success."

The end of the regional also marked the retirement of assistant Mayo and Arundel High coach Tut O'Hara. O'Hara is stepping down for now, but being just 34, it's likely he will return one day.

When chided that the reason Mayo didn't win the region was because O'Hara wasn't running the club as he did in the absence of Walter in 1990, Walter answered, "You're probably right."

Walter was coaching the USA Junior team in Cuba when Mayo won the regional and national tournament in 1990 with O'Hara and Will Trinidad calling the shots.

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