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Kevin Gray's On Baseball: Yanks take Flight
Southern New Hampshire University starter Tim Flight winds up before firing a pitch to a Dowling batter during the NCAA Division II East Regional tournament in Manchester last month. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
MANCHESTER -- Tim Flight, a business major at Southern New Hampshire University, could write a thesis on Major League Baseball's amateur draft.
The SNHU lefty, coming off a sensational junior season with the Penmen, spent the past three days taking phone calls from big-league scouts and while his best Jerry Maguire impersonation. When Flight told the Yankees that, yes, indeed, he would sign a contract for the right price, they drafted him in the 17th round on Wednesday.
Flight and his agent will now negotiate a signing bonus, hoping to earn above-slot money from the Yankees. The 6-foot-4 southpaw doesn't have the bargaining leverage of a high-round pick — third-rounder Jordan Cote from Winnisquam Regional of Tilton earned a $725,000 bonus — but Flight should get a good chunk of change from the Yankees.
Flight, at home in Rhode Island on Wednesday, said he was ready for the draft process when the phone started ringing.
“All the calls were pretty much the same. They would say, 'Do you want to play? Do you want a chance? Are you willing to sign for X amount?' Those aren't the easiest questions to answer during the draft, but I was kind of expecting it. It's a business. ... Now we need to figure out something that works for both sides.”
Flight rewrote the record books at SNHU this season, racking up 140 strikeouts and establishing a 1.75 career ERA, leading the Penmen to the NCAA Division II World Series. He became the third player in program history to be selected in the first-year amateur draft. Garrett Jewell of Alexandria was drafted in the 31st round by the Twins last season. Jason Paul of Henniker was drafted in the 15th round by the Braves in 2004.
In the past two years, the Yankees have made point of plucking the best amateur talent from New Hampshire. Cote, Jordan Maher of Bedford and Ryan Thompson of Franklin Pierce University were all drafted by the Bronx Bombers last year.
Yankees Northeast area scout Matt Hyde has been keeping a close eye on Flight. Hyde spent so much time in New Hampshire last spring that he practically had a seat named after him at the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester.
“Anything can happen in the draft, but the Yankees were probably the most interested the whole time. It's an absolute honor to be drafted by the Yankees, and I couldn't be happier how the whole thing worked out,” said Flight, who plans to meet with Hyde and begin talking about contract details.
Once both sides agree on a deal, Flight conceivably could join the Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Penn League. Flight pitched 102 2/3 innings for the Penmen and could benefit from logging another 15-20 innings at the pro level.
“We'll be talking about all that,” said Flight, a finalist for the Tino Martinez Award, recognizing the best Division II player in the country.
Dartmouth shortstop Joe Sclafani of Palm City, Fla., was drafted by the Astros in the 14th round, and teammate Chris O'Dowd, a catcher from Cherry Hills Village, Colo., was taken in the 23rd round by the Padres. St. Anselm College lefty John Healy, who may play a graduate season at Bryant University, was not selected in the three-day draft. Healy has drawn serious interest from major-league teams and may sign a free-agent deal if he doesn't play for Bryant.
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Staff writer Kevin Gray covers pro baseball for the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @graymatter11.