June 3, 2003
Tallahassee, Fla. — Four Florida State Seminoles were taken in the first 10 rounds of the 2003 MLB Draft on Tuesday. Tony Richie was a fourth round pick, Blake Balkcom and Trent Peterson went in the fifth round, and Matt Lynch was taken in the 10th. The top-ranked Seminoles take on the Texas Longhorns this weekend (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) at Dick Howser Stadium in NCAA Super Regional play with one of eight spots in the College World Series on the line.
After being named a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award earlier in the day, junior catcher Tony Richie got more good news Tuesday afternoon when he was drafted in the fourth round of the MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs (103 overall). He is currently hitting .363 with 11 home runs and a team-high 75 RBI. He is also regarded as one of the top defensive catchers in the country. Richie has thrown out 24-of-55 base runners, been charged with just one passed ball and recorded an ACC-leading seven pick-offs. Richie was a fifth round pick of the Chicago White Sox out of high school before signing with Florida State.
“I’m definitely excited about being drafted in the fourth round by the Cubs,” said Richie. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity of playing for a great organization. I think it’s a really good fit because they do have a need at catcher. But, now that the draft is over, all my focus will be on Texas and the Super Regional this weekend. I haven’t been to the College World Series and that was my goal when I signed with Florida State. I’m going to do everything I can to help this team get to Omaha. When the season ends, I’ll turn all my attention to the next stage of my career.”
Junior right fielder Blake Balkcom and junior left-hander Trent Peterson were the next Seminoles taken in Tuesday’s draft. Balkcom went in the fifth round (150 overall) to the Anaheim Angels and Peterson followed just two picks later in the fifth (152 overall to the Oakland A’s). Balkcom is hitting .325 with nine home runs and 45 RBI. He has a very good arm and leads all outfielders with four assists.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to be drafted that high,” said Balkcom. “I had heard maybe somewhere in the first 10 rounds, but I was thinking it would be more like the teens. It was kind of unexpected. I am excited and I’m just letting it soak in right now. I feel like I’ll be able to go into this weekend more relaxed and I’m going to deal with everything once the season ends. I’m ready for Super Regionals this weekend and I’m looking forward to playing Texas. I think everyone on this team, whether they were drafted or not, has getting to the College World Series as their number one priority.”
Peterson, who will start in game one of the Super Regional vs.Texas, is 10-1 with a 2.68 ERA and a team-high 109 strikeouts. He was a first team All-ACC selection this year and a second team Collegiate Baseball All-American.
“I was hoping to go in the first 10 rounds,” said Peterson. “Going in the fifth was a huge surprise. I’m going to enjoy it today, but tomorrow when I go back to practice all I’ll be worrying about is the University of Texas and Saturday’s game. I’ll sit down and look at my options at the end of the year, but we still have some goals we’ve set as a team that we haven’t accomplished yet and that starts this weekend.”
Senior left-hander Matt Lynch was the fourth Seminole to go when the A’s called his name in the 10th round (302 overall). Lynch was drafted in the seventh round last year by the San Diego Padres, but turned down their offer to return for his senior season and to earn his degree. He is 13-3 on the year with a 3.20 ERA and is 42-7 over his four-year career, ranking second all-time on the ACC career victory list.
“I’m not disappointed in the least,” said Lynch. “I’m looking forward to being a part of the Oakland organization. “I’m still going to get a chance to play professional baseball and I was fortunate enough to finish school and spend another year with a great group of guys at Florida State. One of the other factors in coming back for my senior year was to try and get this team back to the College World Series. I was there my freshman year and it’s really a great experience. I want to get back there for guys like Tony Richie who haven’t had a chance to go.”