Dylan Covey, the high-school right-hander from Pasadena, Calif., selected in the first round of the June draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, already has led an interesting life.
Beginning at birth.
Not many 18-year-olds have brothers twice their age. Angela Covey told the Los Angeles Times that she and husband Darrell decided to stop having children after sons Brian, 37, and Nathan, 32, were born.
Angela had a surgical procedure to prevent more pregnancies but years later changed her mind and had the operation reversed.
"Then, one December, I thought I had the flu and it turned out to be Dylan," she said.
The Coveys home-schooled Dylan until it was time for him to go to high school. They then decided to send him to Maranatha High School, a small private school that Nathan attended.
There was some uncertainty because Dylan already was developing into a promising baseball player.
"We struggled with the fact we would be sending him to a small school, but it was right for him," said Angela.
Though Maranatha didn't always play top baseball schools, Dylan emerged as a top prospect by excelling in showcases across the country as well as in Area Code Games.
"We've been on Dylan Covey for quite some time," said Brewers scouting director Bruce Seid. "He was really good in those showcases. When the lights came on, Dylan Covey performed."
Darrell Covey was drafted by the New York Mets in the 22nd round in 1968 as a third baseman out of Pasadena City College. He did not sign a pro contract, however.
"I went surfing instead," he said with a laugh. "I had some talent but I didn't have the character makeup to make it through a minor-league system."
The father has been a huge factor in his son's career, spending money to send him to the showcases and attending all but two of his prep games.
"It's a real strong family," said Seid. "The one thing you look for in a young man is the support that he has. We've got to know his family, and they're nice people."
Some elbow room
The Brewers' pitching staff should form a Tommy John Club. No less than seven pitchers on their roster have undergone "Tommy John" reconstructive elbow surgery, during which a torn ligament is replaced by a transplanted tendon.
Left-hander Chris Capuano would be president of the club by virtue of the fact he has had not one but two such procedures. Capuano recently completed a two-year comeback from TJ No. 2 by being summoned to the majors.
Others on the staff who have had the surgery are left-handed starters Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson, and relievers Todd Coffey, David Riske, John Axford and Zach Braddock.
Riske, who had his elbow repaired on June 2 of last season, returned to the majors almost exactly a year later with a scoreless inning Wednesday night against the Cubs.
"The toughest part is the down time," said Riske, who pitched just once in April 2009 before being shut down. "You feel so good early. You think you can get out there and pitch.
"Basically, you have to wait for the calendar to go by. I understand the process. There's a lot of hard work in the rehabbing. You see your teammates playing, so the mental part is tough. It's a humbling experience."
After taking a year to get back to the majors, Riske said he has nothing but admiration for Capuano, who took twice that long to make it back the second time.
"I can't even imagine what he went through," said Riske. "I can't imagine going through it for two years. It's unbelievable."
Change of heart
What's going on in the Brewers' farm system?
First came news that shortstop prospect Brent Brewer decided he didn't like baseball and quit the team at Class AA Huntsville. Given a $600,000 bonus as a second-round draft pick in 2006, Brewer now says he's going to play football at the University of Tennessee as a 22-year-old freshman.
Even more bizarre was the news that Angel Salome decided he no longer wanted to be a catcher and asked to move to the outfield. Never mind that the Brewers selected Salome in the fifth round of the 2004 draft with the intention of developing him at that position.
As the No. 1 catcher last season at Class AAA Nashville, Salome was first in line to be promoted should the Brewers have a need at that position. He left that club earlier this season for the birth of a child and then informed the Brewers he wasn't mentally prepared to return to action.
Salome was sent to extended spring training in Arizona to get his act together before being assigned to Huntsville. Shortly after arriving there, he told coaches he didn't want to catch anymore and wanted to be an outfielder.
The Brewers reluctantly sent Salome to Class A Brevard County to play in the outfield. But how many 5-foot-7 outfielders do you see in the majors?
"When he was in Phoenix, he never gave us any indication of this," said Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash . "But if he doesn't want to catch, we can't make him."
Out of the blue
Some draft analysts thought Covey went sooner than expected in the first round but everyone was flabbergasted when the Chicago Cubs picked right-hander Hayden Simpson out of Division II Southern Arkansas with the 16th overall selection.
Baseball America magazine ranked Simpson as the 191st prospect for the draft, meaning he'd go in the fifth round or so. Even the player was surprised by the news.
"It came as a complete shock," said Simpson. "We were hearing second to fifth round."
Simpson had a brilliant career with the Muleriders, going 35-2 including a 13-1 record and 1.81 ERA this year, with 131 strikeouts in 991/3 innings. Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken said he and his staff saw comparisons between Simpson and big-league aces Tim Lincecum and Roy Oswalt .
"I feel Hayden is a potential starter who has four average-to-plus pitches and is very athletic with a good feel for pitching," Wilken said. "He's very athletic and someone I thought could be a starter in the major leagues eventually."
An unlucky Penny
Many folks were surprised when St. Louis signed released Brewers pitcher Jeff Suppan, but the Cardinals were desperate for a starter with major-league experience after losing veterans Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny to injuries.
Penny was expected back by now from a strained muscle in his upper back but has been slow to come around. He will be re-examined in St. Louis on Monday.
"Right now, I guess they're waiting on me," said Penny, who was 3-4 with a 3.23 ERA when sidelined. "I don't want to try to come back too soon and set things back another six weeks. I don't think anyone wants that."
The Cardinals tried to call up P.J. Walters and reliever Blake Hawksworth as starters with poor results. Rookie Adam Ottavino, who held the Brewers to two runs in five innings June 5, continues to get a chance but St. Louis' lack of pitching depth has been exposed.
"It's what we talked about in spring training," said pitching coach Dave Duncan . "If somebody goes down, I didn't feel like we were in position to replace them adequately to win a championship."
He knows the drill
Kerry Wood could relate to all the hype surrounding the arrival of Washington's Stephen Strasburg in the big leagues. Wood was a pitching wunderkind as well when he made his debut with the Cubs in 1998.
Wood didn't fare as well in his first game against Montreal -- coincidentally, the since-relocated franchise for which Strasburg now pitches -- on April 12 of that season, allowing four runs in 42/3 innings in a 4-1 defeat.
In Wood's fifth start, however, he did just a bit better against Houston. Wood pitched a one-hitter and struck out 20 Astros in a 2-0 shutout that still ranks among the best games ever pitched.
"My first start was nowhere near what he (Strasburg) did," said Wood. "My fifth start, yeah, that was like what he did. I watched the highlights of what he did. It brought back memories."
Wood realizes that Strasburg only ramped up expectations more with his 14-strikeout debut against Pittsburgh. Having gone through that fishbowl atmosphere, he hopes folks allow the rookie sensation to breathe.
"There is a lot of attention, but I say go let him pitch," said Wood. "I was hoping he'd do well because it's good for the game, good for that team, and good for that city."
Jay Lapp, the Brewers' area scout for eastern Canada, received a nice honor last week as recipient of the Jim Ridley Award, presented annually by the Canadian Baseball Network.
Lapp, who helped the Brewers discover Axford, among others, was the 17th scout so honored in Canada. The late Ridley was a scout for Toronto and Minnesota and also coached Team Canada.
AROUND THE BASES
MLB: Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg
How often does the event match the hype in any sport? Strasburg certainly lived up to his hype in his debut Tuesday against Pittsburgh, striking out 14 hitters in seven innings. Strasburg threw eight changeups that registered at least 90 mph. Changeups!
BREWERS: RHP Yovani Gallardo
Gallardo remained one of the hottest pitchers in the National League by pitching seven shutout innings against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. After losing his first two starts of the season, Gallardo was 6-0 with a 1.67 ERA over the next 11 outings, with one run allowed over 23 innings in his last three.
Phillies at Yankees: Tuesday-Thursday. A rematch of '09 World Series.
Rays at Braves: Tuesday-Thursday. A clash of division leaders.
Dodgers at Red Sox: Friday-Sunday. Joe Torre certainly knows Fenway.
Mets at Yankees: Friday-Sunday. Bragging rights in Big Apple.
The Brewers' interleague schedule continues with their second trip to Los Angeles this season, this time to play the Angels. After that, it's off to Denver to play the Colorado Rockies. In an odd twist for a non-divisional opponent, it's the first of two visits to Colorado this season for the Brewers.
No one is happier that the Baltimore Orioles play in the American League East than CC Sabathia. The New York Yankees' big lefty is 4-0 with a 2.79 ERA against the Orioles since April 22 and 0-3 with a 5.64 ERA in six starts against other opponents.
Normally, managers are excited when a son is drafted by their organization. But Chicago skipper Ozzie Guillen wasn't pleased that the White Sox waited until the 22nd round to select son Ozney, an infielder at Miami's Pace High School.
"I think the 22nd round in high school doesn't mean anything," Guillen told the Chicago Sun Times. "His expectations, not mine, his expectations were a little higher. He thought he was a little better player than what other people think."
Guillen, who was led to believe his son could be taken in the first 10 rounds, said Ozney probably would honor a scholarship offer from the University of South Florida.
"I give my kid 50 grand just to go to school," Guillen said. "I got 50 grand in my pocket to send my kid to Niketown. I don't need the money.
"I respect the scouts' opinion with all my heart. I hope the 20 guys they pick before help us or help the White Sox."
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