By Chris Jackson
Arizona Daily Wildcat May 5, 1998
Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA junior catcher Greg Clark (26) attempts to throw
out a base runner earlier this season. Clark is one of six Arizona juniors
who could move on when the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft begins in
The rules Major League Baseball and College Baseball abide by in regard
to when a player can be drafted are simple.
After his junior year a player is eligible to go in the June amateur
draft and sign a professional contract.
Six key Arizona baseball players now face this possibility because their
season has ended.
Right-handed pitcher Darrell Hussman, left-hander James Johnson, left-handed
bullpen closer Ryan Moskau, southpaw pitcher/designated hitter Rob Shabansky,
third baseman Omar Moraga and catcher Greg Clark are the players in question.
Each said that if he got a reasonable offer he would probably leave school
and turn pro.
"I want to sign but I'm not going to leave for just anything,"
Clark said. "That's what I've told all the scouts I've talked to."
Moskau said getting drafted on the first day is the key.
"That's the top 10 or 11 rounds, and after that you just wouldn't
get any good money," he said. "But it's not just about the money,
it's just about playing pro ball."
Former UA player Jeff Morris, now the area scout for the Baltimore Orioles,
has seen each of the six juniors play this season, and commented on each
"I'm certain just about all of those kids will get an opportunity
to play professional baseball," Morris said. "I've seen them all
over equal amounts of time, except for Shabansky, whom I've seen the least.
He's the one guy I don't have a good feel for."
Shabansky was injured pitching against California in late February and
missed a substantial period of time. He never returned to the mound, coming
back only as a DH over the Wildcats' final four series.
"The best thing that could happen for him would be to come back
healthy and have a great senior year," Morris said.
Shabansky said he's uncertain about his future in pro baseball.
"I'm planning on coming back in the fall but if something comes
along, I don't know," he said.
UA head coach Jerry Stitt is counting on Shabansky to return and be the
Wildcats' No. 1 starter in 1999.
"Chubby will be back, with the arm injury he won't even be ready
to pitch again until mid-summer," Stitt said.
Morris said Johnson may be the first Wildcat to go.
"He's got a leg up because he's left-handed," Morris said.
"The game is virtually starving for left-handed pitching and he's got
three pretty good (pitches) there."
Johnson is feeling confident about his status.
"(It's) pretty good, from what I hear," he said. "Anything
I'd get this year would be a plus because I wasn't even drafted in high
Johnson led the Wildcats in strikeouts this season with 116 and in innings
pitched with 97.2 while going 7-3 with a 5.07 ERA.
Morris said Hussman's draft standing may have fallen from where it was
in the preseason, when he was the 32nd ranked prospect in the country by
Baseball America, because of a regular season that saw him go 4-5 with a
"It's a tough call with Hussman," Morris said. "He's a
kid we kind of look at with the arm and body, and then we just have to make
sure mentally he's ready to play."
Hussman said he's "not closing the door on school," but he's
confident he can make it in the minors.
"Oh, yeah, I know what I can do," he said. "Stat-wise
I haven't had a great year, but pitching against ASU (on April 26) was just
a taste of what I can do."
Hussman pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief to help UA upset the
Sun Devils 10-9 in that game.
Moskau is currently the Wildcats' closer, setting a UA record with 14
saves in his career, but Morris sees his future elsewhere.
"He's a guy that needs to go out and pitch more innings in the professional
game," Morris said.
Morris also said Moskau has a "little bit better fastball and breaking
ball" than Johnson, and that "he's more polished than Johnson."
As for the two non-pitchers, Morris said Clark may have the easier road,
adding that Moraga may need to switch positions.
"He's what we call a solid defensive catcher," Morris said
of Clark. "He's got a quick release, he's a pretty good receiver behind
the plate. He's going to hit, too, but it's just tough to call where he'll
fall, but in professional ball that's the easiest position to get to the
Morris said Moraga is a "solid left-handed bat, but the question
on him is will he put up the power numbers at the corner position?"
Moraga said second base is "definitely going to be my position of
"They're all good enough," Stitt said of the six. "I'd
like to have them all back, but it's not in my hands now."
Morris said predicting when and where the players will be picked is next
"It's real hard, because the way the draft goes, for us to say how
high or where they'll fall in the draft because of the numbers from organization
to organization and how they like a particular player," he said.
To leave or not to leave?
Arizona players leaving for the pros
Pitchers: W-L ERA IP H R ER BB SO SV
Darrell Hussman, RHP 4-5 9.60 75.0 111 84 80 45 72 0
James Johnson, LHP 7-3 5.07 97.2 104 69 55 45 116 0
Rob Shabansky, LHP 5-1 3.35 40.1 39 15 15 12 44 1
Ryan Moskau, LHP 5-3 3.77 45.1 44 30 19 22 55
Fielders: Avg. AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB-Att. E
Omar Moraga, 3B .326 193 44 63 19 2 4 43 8-11 16
Greg Clark, C .338 210 49 71 20 1 13 58 2-3 12
Shabansky, DH .439 66 24 29 10 2 3 20 1-3 0