ophers baseball players contemplate future after draft

[bold on]David La Vaque[bold off][fm][bold on][bold off][bold on][bold off]
Staff Reporter[fm]

Four players, four perspectives on what to do when your life dream is within reach.
Earlier this week, Minnesota baseball players Rick Brosseau, Andy Persby, Ben Birk and Kelly Werner were selected in the 2000 Major League Baseball amateur draft.
But that distinction is the only one the quartet share as they make preparations for next year.
For Brosseau, a junior with one year of eligibility remaining, its time to leave Seibert Field behind. The shortstop signed with the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday after being selected in the 16th round with the 478th pick.
Brosseau is the first Gopher to be selected by the Toronto franchise, and said with a little help, he might have gone even higher in the draft.
The scout that actually signed me was really interested in me and he wanted me to go in one of the top five rounds, Brosseau said, adding that his selection was a dream.
Brosseau is a solid defensive shortstop (.950 fielding percentage) with a consistent bat (.306). He was the first Gophers player selected this year.
For Persby, a junior pitcher who was taken by Minnesota with the 522nd pick in the 18th round, hes less than certain about his baseball future. Persby, who also is a quarterback on the Gophers football team, said he expected to hear from the Twins Thursday evening.
Reports say Persby, a 6-foot-3-inch pitcher with a fastball clocked at 95 m.p.h., will opt to play in the minor leagues this summer and rejoin the football program this fall.
Though freshman Asad Abdul-Khaliq is tabbed as the starting quarterback, Persby possesses a great deal more game experience, making him a valuable commodity.
Fellow hurler Ben Birk got the nod from the Florida Marlins, with pick 701 in the 24th round.
Birk, who missed all of the Gophers 1999 season with an elbow injury, found himself hampered again in 2000. The junior was selected by the Chicago White Sox in last years draft, but the club never made him an offer. The left-handed Birk said scouts point to his size (6-foot-5-inch) and throwing hand as the keys to his upside.
But like Persby, Birk is undecided about his future, though he did say, I think its in the best interest of both parties that I stay here and long toss for a month to a month-and-a-half, trying to build back up arm strength .
Birk added, I think we just pushed (the injury) to get back for this season a little bit too much.
Even though Im not overpowering people, I have good enough off-speed that I can keep hitters off-balance at this level without my best stuff.
The lone senior selected was Kelly Werner, who was taken with pick 951 of the 32nd round by the Milwaukee Brewers. Werner was unreachable for comment, but his friend Birk said, (Werner and I) talked about it before, and he said that if he wasnt drafted, he would sign on as a free-agent.
Werner is another tall (6-foot-3-inch), left-hander, elevating his stock that much more. As Brosseau said, Pitchers are here one day and gone the next.
Minnesota coach John Anderson potentially faces a similar situation, as he is guaranteed one defector from the infield, and as many as three from his staff.
But Anderson is unfazed, saying that early departures are a downside of a programs success. The Gophers won the Big Ten tournament in 1998 and were crowned regular season champions for 2000.
Anderson takes a similar steady approach with players who wrestle with the choice to go pro.
For the most part, I really dont get involved unless the players ask me to, Anderson said. Even then, I just provide information for them. I dont believe in telling kids what to do, because if it doesnt work out, itll be my fault.
As for next season, Anderson said freshman utility-infielder Scott Welch should be Brosseaus replacement at shortstop.
While Anderson has the luxury to bring along inexperienced players like Welch, he knows that his departing players wont be afforded such opportunities.
Though self-admitted to be a less-than-hands-on adviser to his players moving on in their careers, Anderson did point out, (Professional baseball) is a business. Theyre always looking for a player thats better than you every single day. Sometimes you only get one opportunity, and if you get labeled the wrong way, its tough to overcome.

[italic on]David La Vaque welcomes comments at [italic off][italic on][email protected][italic off]