Seneca righthander Comer expected to go in early rounds of MLB draft

Kevin Comer
Kevin Comer
Posted: June 06, 2011

On the mound, things are simple for Seneca pitcher Kevin Comer.

He can fire fastballs that touch 94 m.p.h. on the radar gun. He has led Seneca, in Tabernacle, Burlington County, to the South Jersey Group 3 championship and into Tuesday's state semifinals.

But Comer says the Major League Baseball draft is "complicated."

That's especially true in the case of the ace righthander.

Comer is expected to be selected in the early rounds of the draft, which begins Monday night. He even could be selected late in the first round, or in the sandwich round between the first and second.

But his status isn't clear, and not because of questions about his talent. It's because he has a scholarship offer to Vanderbilt University, and some baseball officials wonder about his willingness to forgo college and sign to play professional baseball.

"I think people are saying that because I have such a great opportunity at Vanderbilt," Comer said. "It's not something that I can easily just turn my back on."

Comer is projected as the only area high school player who is certain to be drafted. A few others could be selected in the later rounds, including Holy Cross catcher Mark Zagunis, Neumann-Goretti second baseman Mike "Zoom" Zolk, Malvern Prep lefthander Chris O'Brien, Harry S Truman catcher Brian Beyer, Randor righthander Connor Walsh, and Council Rock North righthander Patrick O'Leary, although they are likely to opt for college.

One mock draft had the New York Yankees selecting Comer with the 51st pick.

The 50th pick in last year's draft, righthander pitcher Tyrell Jenkins, signed with St. Louis for a $1.3 million bonus, although the player selected 49th received a $717,000 bonus.

One major-league scout who asked not to be identified said "signability" is the big question with Comer.

"He has one of the best arms in my area, high school and college," said the scout, who covers an area from Washington to Maine for an American League team. "The question with him is how much money it's going to take to buy him out of the Vanderbilt commitment. Vanderbilt is one of those tough-sign schools because it's such a good academic school, the baseball has gotten a whole lot better and the coaches do a good job of convincing those guys they can make even more money in a few years."

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Comer battled a few minor injuries early in the season. He had a sprained ankle and a sore side muscle, was sick for a time and also missed some opportunities to pitch because of bad weather.

As a result, Comer has thrown just 291/3 innings this season, including 151/3 in the last two weeks in the state tournament. He's 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA, with 49 strikeouts, and 15 walks.

Comer struck out 100 in 502/3 innings as a junior. He committed to Vanderbilt after seriously considering UCLA.

"He has everything you're looking for," the American League scout said. "He's got the size. He's projectable."

Staff writer Rick O'Brien contributed to this article. Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223, at or at PhilAnastasia on Twitter.

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