Pro Prospect Watch
Two Oak Park products were drafted on Friday-childhood friends taken within 39 picks of one another, no less-and appear headed to minor league baseball. Derek Schlecker (OPRF ’03, Western Michigan) got it started when he was selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the 31st round (957th overall). Then, Caleb Fields (Fenwick ’03, Northwestern) was picked by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 33rd round.

Schlecker was in Massachusetts with his Great Lakes League summer team when he heard the news. It came as a “total shock,” he said, because his Western Michigan coaches had told him they didn’t think he had a chance to be drafted.

“I had such a bad year, and by the time I got stronger at the end of the year no scouts were there to see me,” he said. “I’m really fortunate the Angels saw me and liked me.”

Schlecker said an Angels scout was due in Illinois this week to finalize his contract and that he would then head to camp in Arizona before likely beginning the season as setup-man or closer with the Orem (Utah) Owlz of the rookie Pioneer League.

Wednesday Journal had been incorrectly reporting that Schlecker was a senior this year; he was actually a redshirt junior, being limited to six games in 2006 because of an injury allowed him a medical redshirt. Schlecker said his original plan was to play summer ball and improve with Western Michigan in his fifth year and hope to be drafted in 2008. That plan went to pieces when he was selected Friday.

Fields was a senior, however, so this was his last chance to be drafted. The former Friar said he knew Pittsburgh was interested in him but was nervous, still.

“They said there were no guarantees,” he said. Fields did lengthy stints at second base, shortstop and in the outfield at NU-he said he played everywhere in college but catcher and maybe first-and said the scout who drafted him advised him to “bring all your gloves” to camp in Florida this week.

“I’d really like to learn centerfield,” Fields said. “I’ve played there hardly at all, but with the running and the throws, I think with my athleticism I’d be best there.”

Fields wasn’t sure what team he’d start the season with but thought it might be in rookie ball as the Pirates teach him his position.

“I was really glad to see Derek get drafted, too,” Fields said. “We played baseball together probably from 11 or 12 years old. I called him [Friday] to congratulate him.”

Fields is the first Fenwick player drafted since the Giants took Michael Santoro from Northern Illinois in 2004.

Schlecker, Fields and Tim Dennehy (OPRF ’05), who last week signed with the Yankees, will join Vasili Spanos (OPRF ’99) as the OPRF and Fenwick graduates in the minors.

Spanos missed seven games with Double A Midland (Oakland Athletics) last week as he recovers from a hairline fracture in his hand he suffered when hit by a pitch June 1. He said by phone from Texas on Saturday that the hand was improving and that he could be back by this weekend. Spanos was awaiting the results of a CAT scan. The former Huskie is hitting .282 with five homers and 26 RBIs in 43 games.

Andrew Hagins (OPRF ’06) was not drafted. If he returns to Oakton (Ill.) CC for a sophomore season, he will be eligible for the 2008 draft. If Hagins decides to transfer to a four-year school, he won’t be eligible for the draft until 2009.

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