The 2007 class was a fantastic year for Utah high school baseball players taken in the Major League First-Year Player Draft. Garrett Nash was taken in the fourth round, and Tanner Robles, Cole Abbott, James Mahler and Zach Jones all had their names called.
The 2008 class is not expected to have the same results.
Joe Pond of Judge Memorial is predicted to be the first prep player selected from the Beehive State, but even his name will not be called early. With Pond signed to play at the University of Utah next season, his name would need to be called somewhere in the fourth- or fifth-round range to get the type of signing-bonus money that could influence him to take the professional route before college.
"I am going to college," said Pond. "There are guys coming straight out of high school that can make $2 million or $3 million up front, and if that were the case, maybe I'd go play ball, too.
"With my situation, I am not going to get that kind of money, so by far the wisest choice for me is to go to school and keep improving my baseball there. You can't really take away the type of opportunities I am going to have in going to school."
There have been feelers put out on a couple of other Utah prepsters. Zach Jones (no relation to last year's draftee) is a big, strong catcher from Bountiful that has some clubs interested, but a call from a major league team is far from a certainty.
Jake Murphy has the name and the pedigree to draw interest, especially from his father, Dale's, former team in the Atlanta Braves. The team famous for the "Tomahawk Chop" could offer some temptation, but like Pond, college is more likely in his future. The shortstop has signed to play football at BYU next year and could also see action on the diamond.There may be a couple of other surprise late-round picks, but the overall speculation for the 2008 class is a little down. A local professional scout said that last year may have been the aberration, but that next year's class has a little more pro-type potential.