Five selected in MLB Draft

Five New York City high school baseball players will never forget this week as they were drafted during the three-day MLB Draft that concluded Wednesday.

Fordham Prep's Andrew Velazquez kicked it off with his seventh-round selection, and he was followed by George Washington teammates Nelson Rodriguez and Fernelys Sanchez, Long Island City's Josh Almonte and Grand Street Campus' Jose Cuas.

Velazquez, drafted 243rd, didn't believed he'd be first New York City high school player drafted, expecting either Rodriguez or Sanchez to earn the honor. Instead, he found out he went in the seventh while riding on the team bus to a playoff game.

The shortstop is committed to Virginia Tech, but Arizona has offered more than slot for him to join the organization, and he said he's leaning toward heading to pro ball. He will lead Fordham Prep in the CHSAA title series starting Friday.

"I'd like to get a head start," Velazquez said of going pro instead of college. "I just love the game of baseball and would like to start focusing on it. They made a pretty good offer and we were on the same page with them."

Sanchez, drafted by Atlanta in the 16th round with pick No. 509, also favors heading to the minors right away, according to his head coach Steve Mandl. He's a 6-3 outfielder with plenty of athleticism and speed.

Sanchez, who has committed to Central Arizona CC, missed most of the season with a broken leg but has returned for the playoffs. Braves scouting director Tony DeMacio raved about Sanchez to the team's website.

"He has a high ceiling," DeMacio told the website. "It will take some time, of course."

Rodriguez, who has been compared to former GW legend Manny Ramirez, will follow in the slugger's footsteps after being drafted in the 14th round with the 473rd pick. Rodriguez is a 6-2 catcher known more for his bat than his defense.

He stopped watching the draft after the 10th round Tuesday, finding out he had been drafted after his mom called. He's committed to Central Arizona CC and might commit this week to Virginia Tech, but is not sure whether he will go to the minors or to college, wanting to wait to see what Cleveland will be offering him.

"It means everything to get drafted," Rodriguez said. "That has been my goal since I was little. My dream came true."

The last New York City player to be drafted had to sweat it out. When Toronto selected Cuas, a shortstop, with pick No. 1,225 in the 40th round, there were only 13 picks remaining in the entire draft.

Cuas had figured Toronto would take him, as they had called in the 10th round to see if he would be willing to sign. When he said he wasn't sure, as he has a scholarship to play at Maryland, they told him they would take him with a later choice.

He called it nerve wrecking and a "dream come true". He's leaning toward heading to Maryland, putting off his professional career for at least three years.

"I still have to wait and see what type of offer they make," Cuas said. "I want to wait until the summer to see if the offer is enough to make it convenient to go play professional baseball or just wait and go to college."

Almonte, a right fielder, was selected in the 22nd round by the Blue Jays.