With third pick, Yanks sway lefty's allegiance
Clarkin proud to be drafted 12 years after celebrating 2001 World Series
SEATTLE -- Ian Clarkin just picked up a new favorite baseball memory to treasure. It's probably a good thing, because his previous one did not figure to sit very well with Yankees fans.
Selected by the Yankees 33rd overall on Thursday in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, the left-handed pitching prospect said that he cheered wildly the night Luis Gonzalez's broken-bat flare found a patch of Arizona outfield grass, giving the D-backs the 2001 World Series title over Mariano Rivera and the Yankees.
"I could not stand the Yankees; I was actually in tears, I was so happy," Clarkin said in a pre-Draft interview.
That stance changed the moment Clarkin, 18, heard the Yankees call his name with the final choice of Thursday's first round. A projectable hurler from James Madison High School in San Diego, Clarkin shifted his outlook after slipping on the pinstripes.
"Now I do love them, and my dad's going to have to learn to love them, too," said Clarkin, who was 9-2 with a 0.95 ERA this season. "They're the most historic organization, and I am looking forward to it. There's proof in the pudding, and I'm excited for it."
Clarkin had 133 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings over 14 games (12 starts) this past season, exciting scouts with what some suggest is the best high school curveball in this year's Draft. He also features a low-90's fastball and has drawn comparisons to the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw.
The hurler was at Yankee Stadium earlier on Thursday along with several other Draft picks and said he had a premonition the Bombers might come calling.
"I actually had a good feeling that it was just going to come true someday, and I'm a Yankee now," Clarkin said.
New York concluded its first day of the Draft by selecting infielder Gosuke Katoh from Rancho Bernardo (Calif.) High School.
The 18-year-old second baseman, considered a speedster and defensive whiz, is a natural right-handed hitter but has said that he switched to batting left-handed because he wanted to emulate Ichiro Suzuki.
"In T-ball, I started out as a right-handed thrower and hitter," Katoh told the Pomerado (Calif.) News. "Then my dad and I went to a Mariners game and I saw Ichiro. From there, I became a switch-hitter. Then I got a lot stronger from the left side, so I just threw away the righty swing."
A 2013 Rawlings Second-Team All-American, Katoh hit .355 (39-for-110) with 10 doubles, 11 home runs and 31 RBIs in 33 games and now lists Robinson Cano as his favorite player. He was born in California but lived for three years in Japan as a toddler before returning to California, where his parents encouraged him to play Little League as a way to better learn English.
Day 2 of the Draft continues with Rounds 3-10, streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m. And Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.