Job Prospects Look Good for Terps' Cecil

Brett Cecil set Maryland records for saves (13 in 2006) and appearances (30 this season).
Brett Cecil set Maryland records for saves (13 in 2006) and appearances (30 this season). "There's a lot to like about him," one major league scout said. (University Of Maryland)
By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 7, 2007

Brett Cecil never has held a job.

He remembers filling out an application once, but he never turned it in. Instead of working, Cecil always was playing baseball. So perhaps the last few years could be considered one extended job interview for the University of Maryland pitcher.

By the end of the day, Cecil should be closer to finding employment than he ever has. The All-Met Player of the Year as a senior at DeMatha in 2004 expects to be selected in the early part of today's major league draft, possibly in the first round.

It will be his second time through this process -- in the 2004 draft, one team called and asked if he would accept a $100,000 signing bonus if drafted in the seventh round. Cecil said no, he was not drafted and instead opted to follow through on his college plans.

"You can definitely look at" the last few years as a long interview process, Cecil said. "It definitely seems that way for the past few years."

After three years at Maryland, Cecil's résumé now includes a harder fastball (reaching speeds in the mid 90s) and more pitches, having added a tough slider and a split-finger pitch. At 6 feet 2 and 225 pounds, his height and weight roughly are the same as they were three years ago, but now Cecil is physically fit and more muscular, the product of taking his training much more seriously.

Unlike 2004, Cecil has made it known he plans to sign a contract and turn professional if drafted.

"I don't think it's a very big decision right now," Cecil said. "I'm pretty sure I want to start my pro career now."

Cecil hopes that his skills and experience will propel him into the first round. Whether he gets there, though, is difficult to predict. Unlike other professional leagues, baseball's draft is a fickle process, where teams will pass on talented players if it is believed the player will be difficult to sign.

Cecil auditioned for scouts throughout the spring and recently worked out in College Park for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He also traveled to Philadelphia for the Phillies' pre-draft workout. Though wearing a new Washington Nationals hat at home one morning this week, Cecil said he had no preference for his next -- and first -- employer.

The application he filled out two years ago was a general application for jobs at Old South Country Club in Lothian.

"I was staying home and not going to the [Cape Cod summer baseball league], so I was thinking I should try to find a summer job," he said. "But I ended up not doing it."

Several other local players also could be taken during the draft. Virginia first baseman Sean Doolittle is a potential first-round pick. Cavaliers outfielder Brandon Guyer (like Cecil, a 2004 All-Met at Herndon) and pitcher Casey Lambert each could go in the first 10 rounds. Maryland pitcher Ryan Moorer, and George Mason catcher Jason Bour (Westfield) and infielder Chris Fournier also are prospects.

Among local high schoolers, pitcher Connor Hoehn of St. John's, a second-team All-Met, and All-Met catcher Sean McCauley of Osbourn could go in the first five rounds.

For the first time, the first round of the draft is being televised. Five rounds are expected to be completed today, and the teams will continue selecting tomorrow until 50 rounds are complete. It should not take that long for Cecil to learn his destination, though he expects today's wait to be agonizing and plans to play golf this morning in an attempt to keep his thoughts off baseball.

Putting himself into the best possible position has been Cecil's focus for quite some time. He says he was pudgy and lacked the will to improve during high school, but under the tutelage of Maryland pitching coach Jim Farr, Cecil has worked hard to get in better shape. He runs for distance and sprints or lifts weights six days a week.

Cecil worked as the Terrapins' closer for the past two seasons, setting school records by notching 13 saves in 2006 and making 30 appearances this spring. While there is some thought that Cecil could turn into an effective setup reliever, he expects to begin his pro career as a starter.

"There's a lot to like about him," said one scout whose team is interested in taking Cecil today, and thus requested anonymity. "This guy could pitch in the big leagues and be okay. I don't think he's the kind of guy who can turn your franchise around, but he could be a good, consistent big leaguer for a long time to come. There is no such thing as a safe pick, but he's a fairly safe guy."

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