Congratulations to Robert and also to Joe Ross a former Gamespeed athlete (2007-09). Nice to see Bay area prospects working hard and going high in the draft. They follow in the footsteps of GS alum Chris Gruler. Couple of years since Ive worked with Joe but I know he is a hard worker and is a great talent.
Bishop O’Dowd’s Joe Ross, Alhambra’s Robert Stephenson selected in the first round of the MLB draft
By Stephanie Hammon
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 06/06/2011 09:45:22 PM PDT
Nine years had passed since an East Bay high schooler last heard his name called in the first round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft. On Monday, a pair of hard-throwing right-handed pitchers made up for lost time.
Bishop O’Dowd High’s Joe Ross was selected with the 25th overall pick by the San Diego Padres, and minutes later, the Cincinnati Reds took Alhambra’s Robert Stephenson with the 27th selection. James Harris, an outfielder from Oakland Tech, was the final compensation round pick, going at No. 60 to the Tampa Bay Rays, to cap an outstanding day for East Bay talent. Ross’ and Stephenson’s selections mark the first time since 1979 that two Bay Area players have been taken in the first round directly out of high school. Chris Gruler of Liberty was the most recent local high schooler to be a first-round pick. He went to the Reds with the No. 3 overall pick in 2002.
Chris Reed, a left-handed pitcher from Stanford, was the first Bay Area player to be selected Monday, going to the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 16th overall pick. Ross, who is 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, was at home watching the draft with a group of friends and family when he got a phone call from the Padres just before the selection was officially announced.
“I tried to hide it, but I walked back in with a huge smile on my face so they all knew and when my name was called I was dog-piled on,” Ross said. “I’d been talking to (the Padres) for awhile, and they showed a lot of interest, it was just up to if I (was still available). I’m really excited.”It’s not the first time the Ross family has watched the MLB draft expectantly. In 2008, Joe’s older brother, Tyson, was selected out of Cal by the Oakland A’s in the second round. Currently on the disabled list, Tyson was among those assembled at the Ross household on Monday.
Stephenson, who touched 98 mph on the radar gun this season and was thought to be a first-round target of several teams, recently was named the Gatorade California Baseball Player of the Year.
“We’re very excited,” Reds scouting director Chris Buckley told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He’s a very outstanding high school projection pitcher. He’s got a live arm. We saw him as high as 98 (mph). He’ll fill out and get strong. Curveball, slider, changeup. Very polished high school pitcher who still has good projection.”
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-hander said before the draft that he’ll weigh all his options before making a decision on what to do next. If he signs, the Reds will get a smart pitcher, as Stephenson carries a 4.12 GPA as well as a lightning arm.
Harris was one of Tampa Bay’s seven compensation round picks. He was watching on TV at home with his family and ran outside screaming when his name was called.
“I got up and went right out the door. I had neighbors looking at me wondering what was going on,” Harris said.
Harris had heard that he could go as high as the compensatory round and the Rays were among the top three teams he heard from, but it still came as a surprise.
“I’m so happy right now,” he said. “I definitely didn’t expect to be taken today. I’m at a loss for words.”
Harris spoke briefly with the Rays on Monday night and will talk to them more to figure out the next step.
“I feel honored to be able to experience this,” Harris said.
All three East Bay players have made college commitments — Ross to UCLA, Stephenson to Washington and Harris to Cal State Los Angeles — but have until Aug. 15 to be signed by their new major league club.
Staff writer Jimmy Durkin contributed to this story.