To learn about our efforts to improve the accessibility and usability of our website, please visit our Accessibility Information page. Skip to section navigation or Skip to main content
Below is an advertisement.
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...

News

Skip to main content
Former top picks offer advice
Below is an advertisement.
06/03/2002 8:46 pm ET 
Former top picks offer advice
By Pierre Moussette / MLB.com

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Kris Benson was a first-round pick in 1996. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)
MONTREAL -- It has often been said that the anticipation of a highly-anticipated event can be more exciting than the actual moment itself.

In that vein, two members of the Pirates who have traveled down that road themselves have a couple of suggestions for the player who will be selected first overall, becoming the newest member of the Bucs' organization: soak it up and be yourself.

"It was real exciting," recalls Chad Hermansen, the Pirates' first-round pick (10th overall selection) in June of 1995. "You hear people say you might get picked here or there. There is speculation, of course, about where you might go and people basically told me there was a good chance I was going to be picked in the top 10. I was just excited.

"When I was in high school, even before that, I just hoped I could have gotten a chance to play in college some day. Then I was drafted in the first round. It's such a big thing when you're that age. I was just grateful for the opportunity. It was just fun."

Staring pitcher Kris Benson will be in an even better position to relate with the as of yet unidentified young man who will go first on Tuesday. The lanky right-hander was the first amateur player to go six years ago this week.

"I think that remembering back I was pretty excited about the whole process," Benson said. "The word was I was going to go first or second and as it got closer it looked like I was going first. The whole process was very exciting for me: counting down to the day of the draft, waiting for the phone call, seeing what would happen. The whole deal was a once in a lifetime thing and it's something that you just have to soak up and enjoy while it lasts."

If the Pirates decide to select a high schooler first overall, general manager Dave Littlefield and the rest of the Bucs' front office may want to muzzle Benson or at least keep him away from the young man they select No. 1, since Benson is an advocate of the college system. Then 21, the former Clemson Tiger was considerably older than Hermansen the day he was selected and Benson feels that age and experience can be an asset to a young man attempting to live up to the expectations of being a high draft pick.

"I'd always recommend going to college," Benson said with conviction. "Those first three years in the minors, you could spend getting your degree or part of your degree, experience college life, compete against good ballplayers there and everything the college atmosphere provides you.

"Going straight out of high school into the minors is a tough job, a tough life. College kind of prepares you for that and it didn't really take me all that much longer to get up to the big leagues."

For his part, Hermansen feels he handled himself pretty well as a highly-touted prospect. His goals evolved as he grew up and he has now attained his dream of becoming an everyday Major League ballplayer, without having gone the college route.

"No regrets at all," Hermansen answered when asked about passing up a chance to play in the NCAA and attend university. "I didn't really have a lot of intentions about going to [college], I just wanted to play baseball and start my career as soon as possible. I knew the team was struggling at the time I was drafted and I thought it was a good organization to be in to try to climb the ladder fast."

Although the two Pirates disagree on the role of collegiate athletics in a young player's development, they are of one mind on how to approach the big day and the road through the minor leagues.

"I'd just say that although people will expect a lot of things from you, just go out and enjoy the moment and have fun," Hermansen suggested. "Try not to worry about the stuff off the field and take it all in. Try to learn from the veteran guys who have been around. Just have fun and remember it's just a game."

"Continue doing the same things that you've been doing - that's why you're being picked [first overall]," Benson added. "You've showed teams that you can handle pressure and you're a smart player, you've got what it takes to compete and you'll be up there sooner than everybody else. Don't put too much pressure on yourself, once you try to do too much or rush yourself you lose sight of what you need to do. Just have fun with everything.

"It's a great life to play Major League baseball. You get paid to do something you've always loved doing, now it's going to be a job - you have to take it just a little bit differently but try to have fun."

Pierre Moussette is a special contributor to MLB.com
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.




Pirates Headlines
• More Pirates Headlines
MLB Headlines