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Cajuns' baseball draft streak at 28 years


Cajuns' baseball draft streak at 28 years

Artile from the Advertiser:

Wilborn the lone pick after two days in 18th round
Joshua Parrott
June 11, 2009

Greg Wilborn grew tired of waiting as the second day of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft took place Wednesday, so the New Mexico native walked away from the computer in his parent's Albuquerque home.

A short time after the left-handed pitcher from UL got some distance he finally got an answer.

At approximately 12:40 p.m. in the Mountain time zone, Los Angeles Dodgers scout Matt Paul sent Wilborn a text message with a question: What would you do if the Dodgers drafted you?

Wilborn texted back: "We'll talk about it."

About five minutes later, Paul called as the Dodgers selected Wilborn in the 18th round of the draft with the 547th overall pick. Now both sides have until Aug. 17 to reach contract terms, although Wilborn wants to have a final answer much sooner than that.

"We're going to talk about it, and I'll sign if they can give me an offer I can't refuse," said Wilborn, who recently completed his redshirt junior season. "If not, I can always go back to Louisiana, which is great."

Wilborn, who was projected by some draft experts to go between the sixth and 12th round, later received a text message with congratulations from UL coach Tony Robichaux.

Anyone looking only at statistics might question why Wilborn was drafted. The lefty was up and down in his first year back from elbow ligament reconstruction surgery, going 3-4 with a 7.83 ERA in 12 appearances.

On the plus side, Wilborn is a hard-throwing lefty who had 46 strikeouts in 46 innings this season. But he also hit 15 batters and walked 34.

"Some scouts have heard that he's touched 94 (miles per hour), but he's a Tommy John (surgery) guy and has some durability questions because of that," said Jim Callis, executive editor of Baseball America. "He didn't have a great year, but sometimes it helps for a guy like that to be able to go and throw some innings (in the minors) and not worry about winning or losing."

Robichaux, whose program has had at least one player drafted each of the past 28 years, says it makes sense for the pro scouts to be excited about what Wilborn has to offer.

"The thing they like about him is that he has a loose arm that will throw very hard," Robichaux said. "He's been up to 92-93 (miles per hour) before. Once you hit that velocity range and have a loose arm, they will look past everything else."

Wilborn expects contract negotiations with the Dodgers to begin soon. He will not hire an agent but is utilizing the services of adviser Nick Crawford from Mississippi.

Despite growing up as a fan of the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks, Wilborn is thrilled about the chance to play in the minors for the Dodgers.

"The opportunity I have is pretty unique and pretty cool," Wilborn said. "I've learned so much in four years of college, and I know that there's always room to learn even more. But if I don't sign this year, there's always next year."

With the way the first 30 rounds of the draft have unfolded, UL expects to be strong on the mound regardless of whether Wilborn signs with the Dodgers.

Coach Robichaux said his oldest son, Justin, will return for his senior year with the Cajuns. Returning No. 1 starter Zach Osborne told theadvertiser.com on Wednesday night that he will be back for his senior season.

Robichaux and Osborne were consistent for most of the 2009 season as the Cajuns (27-30-1) made a late run to reach a bracket final in the Sun Belt tournament.

After opening the year as a closer, Robichaux became a weekend starter in the final month and thrived. The Crowley native recorded a 1.98 ERA and went 3-3. At one point, he threw 30 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.

Osborne, selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 35th round last summer, was third in the Sun Belt this year with a 3.44 ERA. The righty posted a 5-3 record and showed tremendous control with 67 strikeouts and only 14 walks in 83.2 innings.

This summer, Osborne said he plans to take an online course while working out and resting his arm in his hometown of Houston. There's also a planned trip next week to Chicago and spending time with friends under the Texas sun in Galveston and New Braunfels.

"I've pretty much come to the conclusion that I'm going to come back and not sign if I get drafted in the last 20 rounds," Osborne said. "I'm disappointed with how it (the draft) went, but I'm excited about all the guys coming back next year. I think we're going to turn everything around."

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