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South grad Hiser ready for baseball draft

June 07, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

When it comes down to it, P.J. Hiser probably knows how finalists feel on American Idol.

He's done all he could possibly do. He has given his best possible performance. Now it's all up to the judges.

Hiser has been doing all his work and auditioning, hoping for a win to the tune of a major league baseball contract. Today is the day for the final vote, culminating in baseball's annual amateur draft, which begins at noon.

"This is awesome," said Hiser, who just completed his senior year as a pitcher and outfielder for the University of Pittsburgh. "This will be where all the hard work will come together."

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If hard work is a barometer of professional success, Hiser may already be an All-Star.

Hiser graduated from South Hagerstown and Hagerstown Community College and headed to Pittsburgh to enhance his chances of fulfilling his boyhood dream of playing professional baseball.

He took care of his part of the bargain by hitting .354 for the season with 21 home runs and 67 RBI while being named the Big East Player of the Year. He also compiled a 5-1 record as a pitcher with 49 strikeouts and a 4.40 ERA in 61 1/3 innings.

He led the Big East in three statistical categories and was in the top 10 in five. He set Pitt single season records in home runs and RBI while finishing sixth in the NCAA in slugging percentage (.758). The Panthers won 38 games this season, the most since 1995, and went to the Big East Championships for the first time in four seasons.

Hiser is also one of 30 finalists for the Dick Howser Award, which is college baseball's version of national player of the year. He is also the first Pittsburgh player to earn first team All-America honors.

Major League Baseball scouts have noticed Hiser's attributes, according to their discription of his talents on MLB.com's Draft Tracker:

"Strong, compact build. Solid upper body strength, thick back, broad shoulders. Good athletic look. Quick bat, aggressive, line drive swing. Can take you deep. Average, accurate arm, throws carry. Glove will improve. Hard runner on base paths. Comes to beat you. Hustles, converted right-handed pitcher."

All the honors and numbers prove Hiser has come a long way since he was taken as a 42nd-round selection by the San Francisco Giants in 2001, but he is getting more mileage out of his versatility.

"Some have been looking at me as a pitcher and others as an outfielder," Hiser said. "I'll do whatever the organization wants."

Hiser said he was getting strong looks from the Cincinnati and Cleveland organizations and has filled out paperwork for them. He has been looked at by most every team in the majors and has attended some predraft workouts preparing for this day.

Although Hiser just wants the chance to play professionally, he wouldn't mind the chance to play close to home ... as a member of the Baltimore Orioles.

"You always picture yourself in a hometown uniform when you are growing up," Hiser said. "Being able to play for the Orioles would be great, but it doesn't matter. I just want to play."




Local players on MLB.com Draft Tracker list who could possibly be selected:

Nick Adenhart, RHP, Williamsport

MLB.com COMMENT: Tall & lean. Excellent pitcher's frame. Square shoulders. Large hands, long fingers. Long arms & legs. Can bring it. Live, 3/4 fastball runs down and away from right-handed hitters. Keeps all pitches down, works corners. A 12-6 (o'clock) curveball, quick rotation, thrown for strikes. Definite blue chipper. Potential Major League frontline starter. (Suffered an elbow injury on May 11).

David Miner, LF, South Hagerstown

MLB.com COMMENT: Tall frame. Long arms, legs. Slight-sloped shoulders. Good growth potential. All-around athlete. Very quick actions. Wide stance. Plus speed. Potentioal Major League arm and glove. Line drive, contact stroke with gap power. Good base runner, will take extra base. Knows how to play. Gets to fly balls quickly. Leadoff type, singles, doubles hitter.

Brian Baugher, RHP, Brunswick

Played at Louisburg Junior College this season.

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