Nick Vitielliss walked across the graduation stage Wednesday as a member of Thomas Stone High School's class of 1999 with his future clearly in focus: a baseball scholarship to Indiana University awaiting him. Twenty-four hours later that future was a bit clouded -- or, at least, a bit more cluttered.
Vitielliss, a powerful right-handed pitcher, was selected Thursday by the Baltimore Orioles in the 42nd round of Major League Baseball's first-year amateur draft. He was informed of the news by friends who had seen his name on the Internet, but as of Friday afternoon had yet to hear from a representative of the Orioles.
"The 42nd round, that's a long way down," said Vitielliss, who was named first-team All-Met this season after going 7-1 with a 1.01 earned run average and a team-high .456 batting average. "But it's better than nothing. Really, it caught me by surprise. I wasn't planning on being in the draft at all. Now it's such a hard decision. It's my dream to play professional baseball, but you also hear people saying you should go to college and get your degree."
If he opts to go to Indiana, he would not be eligible for the draft again until after his junior season. Vitielliss said he thinks the Orioles would have to make a really irresistible offer for him to pass up college.
"To pass up the opportunity to play professionally would be hard, but so would missing out on school," Vitielliss said. "I just don't know. . . . For now, I`m keeping my options open."
Notes: Vitielliss and Leonardtown's Kevin Burch will represent the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference tonight at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in the Crown All-Star game, which matches Maryland's top seniors. . . . Team Maryland also was selected this week. The squad comprises juniors and seniors who will represent the state at the Sun Belt Tournament in Oklahoma this summer. Area athletes named to the team were Burch (pitcher/outfielder), Leonardtown junior shortstop Tracy Vallandingham and Thomas Stone senior pitcher Griffin Zarbough. Vitielliss elected not to try out for Team Maryland because of a previous commitment to his American Legion baseball team.