View Full Version : Three area baseball stars drafted

06-07-2002, 01:49 PM
Well, it's local to me. Nick Shields went to the same high school as I did. :smile:

MATT TROWBRIDGE , Rockford Register Star

The NIC-9's best hitter and one of its two best pitchers in 1998 were both chosen Wednesday in Major League Baseball's first-year player draft.

Former Machesney Park Harlem catcher Nick Shields was chosen in the 29th round (No. 862 overall), one round after former Freeport pitcher Andy Dickinson (No. 848 overall).

Former Hampshire shortstop Matt Sibigtroth was picked in the 43rd round (No. 1,289) by the White Sox. Sibigtroth was also picked by the White Sox last year, in the 29th round, but chose to enroll at Kishwaukee Community College, which had five players picked in the 50-round draft.

Shields batted .527 as a high school senior and set Harlem records for hits (48), home runs (12) and RBIs (40). He hit .326 with six HRs and 44 RBIs as a senior at Wright State and finished his career with a .299 average, 26 HRs (fifth in WSU history) and 117 RBIs.

"I'm real excited. This is what I've worked for," said Shields, who was selected by the Texas Rangers. "It's a feeling I've never had before."

Shields, who listened to the draft live on the Internet, had a tough time waiting for the call, which came a half hour before the marketing/education major took a final in marketing.

"I wanted it to happen before so I wouldn't have to worry about it while I was taking my test," Shields said. "Then I had to make sure I called everyone. I wish I wouldn't have had that test. It made it harder to concentrate."

Shields, who carries a 3.0 GPA, would have graduated after student teaching for a quarter next fall, but now plans to be busy playing baseball.

While the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Shields was picked about where he figured, Dickinson was irked at being the 439th pitcher drafted -- and 218th college pitcher -- after being a two-time, third-team All-American. The 6-2, 175-pound lefthander was 22-3 his last two years at Illinois and led the Big Ten in strikeouts both years. He was the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year as a junior and had an even better year as a senior, lowering his ERA from 3.51 to 2.83.

"It was real hard," said Dickinson, who was picked by the Oakland A's. "They base it on potential. But I know how to win. I've proved that the last four years. When it gets down to the end, I know how to win. Some of these guys can throw the ball harder, but that's all they bring to the table. Some of these guys didn't even win at the college level. Now they expect them to win at the Major League level. That's kind of weird."

Dickinson, who tied Illinois' career win record of 30, will be Freeport's third professional pitcher. Former Freeport classmate and Illini teammate Matt Vorwald is 2-3 with a 2.22 ERA for the Class A Quad City River Bandits, and 1994 Freeport grad Jason Pearson, who came through the independent Northern League, made his Major League debut Tuesday night. Pearson got the final two outs in San Diego's 3-1 loss to the Giants.

"Pearson didn't even get drafted, and he's pitching in the Majors now," said Dickinson, who has closely monitored Pearson's career. "I just want my opportunity. The mind is one of the biggest tools in professional baseball and I've got a good head on my shoulders. I've proved that in college."

Dickinson was happy to be drafted by Oakland, which has developed three top-flight young pitchers the last three years in Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito.

"They do well at developing pitchers," he said. "When I think about that, it gets me psyched up. What can they do with me? I'm slightly below average on velocity, but not by a whole lot. And I still haven't filled out yet. I've got a great changeup and curve and good movement. If they can help me put a couple more miles an hour on my fastball, I can go to the Big Leagues. But it will take a few years."

Sibigtroth plans to say no to the White Sox for a second time, even though he said he was excited to be picked by them. Just like last year, he said he's not ready yet.

"There are still some minor adjustments I want to make," he said. "If I do ever go into pro ball, I want to go in just having to fine-tune my game, not work on a lot of things."