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The Rounding Third Report

By
Leland Roberts

29 and 5.

That was the career record of Mount Saint Joseph High School pitcher Gavin Floyd when he took the mound on May 15, 2001. It was the first round of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs.

Mount Saint Joseph's opponent? Archrival Calvert Hall, a team that had dealt Floyd four of his five career losses (the only other defeat was a 1-0 no-hitter lost on an error earlier this season).


The outcome was to be different this time. Losing was not an option for Floyd, expected to be a top five pick in the first-year player draft on June 5.

With a huge crowd in attendance, thanks in large part to a feature story in The Baltimore Sun that same day, Floyd did not disappoint. He pitched 10 shutout innings (remember, high school games usually last seven innings) and only allowed two hits and two walks while striking out 13 and tossing 110 pitches. To top it all off, he even stroked the game-winning hit to center field with two runners on and two outs in the bottom of the 10th to give the Gaels a hard-fought 1-0 victory.

Make that record 30 and 5.

In what was to be his final appearance on a high school mound, the 6'5", 200 pound right-hander pitched his heart out. Everyone in attendance walked away from that field knowing that they had just witnessed something special.

Floyd's fastball, consistently in the 92-94 mph range with good life, was clocked as high as 95-96 mph at times. His sharp breaking curveball, rated as the second best breaking ball in the high school ranks by Baseball America, was about 75-77 mph and nearly unhittable. Furthermore, he showed good command as well as the ability to change speeds.

A great competitor with a sound delivery, a mature mound presence, and a good feel for pitching, Floyd has been handled well by Coach Dave Norton (see article #46 in the archives for more on Norton) and is considered to be one of the safest picks among high school pitchers eligible for the draft. Compared to everyone from Kerry Wood to Darryl Kile to A.J. Burnett (minus the body piercings), Floyd finished this season 8-2 with a 1.11 E.R.A. and a 103:24 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and he certainly projects as a legitimate frontline starter in the major leagues.

As such, Floyd has been well known to scouts and prospect watchers in the mid-Atlantic area for several years and has become accustomed to being in the spotlight. "It doesn't really bother me," said Floyd, speaking of all the publicity. "I've been going to these showcases that have 200 scouts and 100 scouts and I've had reporters come up to me and stuff like that...it's fine."

Of course, Mount Saint Joseph is also the alma mater of another likely top five draft pick, current Georgia Tech third baseman Mark Teixeira (see article #15 in the archives for more on Teixeira). Despite attending the same school, the two did not play on the same team. When Teixeira was a much heralded high school senior playing on the varsity, Floyd was still a relatively unknown freshman.

"I was on the JV (junior varsity team), unfortunately. I wanted to play with him," remarked Floyd, while icing down his arm following a regular season victory in early May.

So, when Teixeira was receiving all that attention as a senior, did Floyd think that he would be in the same situation three years later?

"No, I didn't actually think that. I didn't think it until sophomore year...I thought I was going to be a pretty good varsity player. Then, junior year, I did better and they were talking about me getting drafted. Then, summer (following my) junior year, and fall, and then senior year it just started..."

Indeed, Floyd's profile and draft stock have continued to climb. It is now a near certainty that Floyd will be one of the first seven picks, most likely in the top five. In fact, he is expected to be the highest draft pick from a Maryland high school since Harold Baines of St. Michaels was selected by the Chicago White Sox with the first pick overall in 1977. However, Floyd is well aware that not even Miss Cleo knows exactly how the draft will unfold.

"The draft is unpredictable. The best player doesn't always go first. I mean, I'm sure the best players will go in the first round, but we'll see."

And what about the possibility of being selected by his hometown team, the Baltimore Orioles, who hold the seventh pick in the draft?

"That would be nice. It would be different. It would be a lot of people out there."

While Floyd sounded intrigued about the possibility of playing in his hometown, the odds are that he will not be available when the Orioles turn arrives. That said, what would it take to convince Floyd, a native of Severna Park, Maryland, to pass on his scholarship offer from the University of South Carolina and sign with whichever team drafts him?

"Just the right situation, the right money, the right program."

To this end, Floyd mentioned that he will be advised by Shapiro, Robinson & Associates, a player representation firm headed by Ron Shapiro. If the name Ron Shapiro sounds familiar, it may be because his clients have included the likes of Cal Ripken, Jr., Kirby Puckett, and Eddie Murray. In the words of Floyd, "They're well respected by most, probably all, major league scouts and organizations, so I'm happy with that."

As a likely top five pick in the first-year player draft with a limitless future, Floyd certainly has a lot to be happy about these days. So remember the name Gavin Floyd, because there is a good chance that he will be pitching in the major leagues in about three or four years down the road, and for many years afterwards.  


 

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