Douglas waiting patiently for call from the majors

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 4, 2002

[06/04/02]Shea Douglas sits nervously in a chair next to a computer screen scrolling over every left-handed pitcher in the draft.

“Watch this,” he said while pulling up video of one of the pitchers expected to be chosen in today’s amateur baseball draft. “This is dirty.”

The phone rings and Douglas who said he’s been in serious contact with about six teams lunges for the phone only to find out it’s a call for his brother, Eric.

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Back to the computer he goes trying to scout his competition. It’s a long way from the pickup games in the field built in his backyard on Woodstone Drive, but that’s where the 6-foot, 1-inch Southern Miss standout got his start.

He said he’d have every neighborhood kid around playing for hours. If everything goes as planned, he will be hosting 35,000 of his best friends very soon.

“Six teams have called and asked what are my limits,” Douglas said. “They wanted to know where I’d sign and where I wouldn’t sign.”

Douglas did not give a dollar amount, but said he hopes to get snagged in the first day of the two-day draft. The draft begins at noon and 12 rounds will be completed by the end of the day. Tomorrow, as many as 38 rounds will follow.

Douglas said the Cubs and Indians pegged him between the eighth-and-10th rounds.

“We thought he put himself in a position this year to get picked in a decent round,” said Southern Miss coach Corky Palmer of his team’s top starter. “We’ll just see how things unfold.”

Douglas, a junior, went 10-3 with a 3.14 ERA in leading the Golden Eagles to a 36-22 record. USM lost five of its last six, though, and did not advance to an NCAA Regional.

“I don’t think we got cheated,” Douglas said of his team not reaching the regionals. “There were several losses that we had that just killed our (strength of schedule rating). Losses to teams like Buffalo really brought us down.”

Consistently around 87-88 MPH, Douglas has developed a nasty changeup that has become his best pitch. He said former Warren Central coach Sam Temple showed him the pitch and he developed it more in college.

On the Major League Baseball Web site, Douglas is compared to Denny Neagle, who used to pitch for the Atlanta Braves. “Changeup is best pitch, excellent movement and deception,” the Web site said on its scouting page.

“That’s the thing that separates Shea is the changeup,” Palmer said. “We knew teams would stack the lineup with right-handed hitters and we needed something other than the curve.”

Douglas became the first Southern Miss pitcher in a decade to record 10 wins, but fell one short of the school record. He lost his final two decisions.

He has not ruled out going back to school, but said he will base his decision heavily on his family. Shaun Douglas, Shea’s wife, and infant daughter Lexus McKenzie are both in Vicksburg.

“I tell (the scouts) the 10th, 11th or 12th (rounds) is as late as I’ll sign,” Douglas said. “I’ll tell them my reason is simply because I want to take my wife and little girl with me.”

Taylor Tankersley, a former teammate of Douglas’ at Warren Central, could have gone in the sixth round to Kansas City last year, but opted for the University of Alabama.

Michael Brown, a former Vicksburg High standout, was drafted two years ago in the 36th round by San Diego, but similarly went to college, but at Mississippi State.

“I know there’s a good chance of losing him on the first day,” Palmer said of his potential top returning starter. “I want what’s best for Shea.”

Southern Miss’ Brandon Parker and Tommy Davis were both chosen in the second round. Parker was picked by Seattle in 1997 and Davis by the Baltimore Orioles in 1994.

Douglas has no thoughts of getting picked that high, but is still hoping when the phone rings this afternoon, it’s not for his brother.

“Ever since I’ve gotten to Vicksburg, I’ve been relaxed,’ Douglas said. “I’ve been doing stuff with my little girl trying to keep my mind off it. But now, every time the phone rings I kind of wonder if it’s them.”