MLB First-Year Player Draft | Manatee's Cord Sandberg can't wait to find out where he's going

Draft may answer Sandberg dilemma:Professional baseball or SEC football

jlembo@bradenton.comJune 6, 2013 

Manatee High School's Cord Sandberg gets ready to bat during Monday's game against Pine Crest at Twin Lakes Park during the Sarasota Baseball Classic. PAUL VIDELA/Bradenton Herald

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BRADENTON

If Cord Sandberg had his way, today's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft would get under way early in the morning.

Instead, the Houston Astros aren't slated to make the first overall pick until 7 p.m. Thursday live on MLB Network. And Sandberg, the recent Manatee grad who is considered one of the country's top baseball prospects, isn't sure how is he going to handle the waiting.

He was going to golfing, but Tropical Storm Andrea may have a say in that.

"I have to find something to keep my mind off of it," said Sandberg, who spent Wednesday at Busch Gardens with brother Chase. "It's going to be kind of tough if it rains and I have to be in the house all day."

Once the draft begins, Sandberg's life may never be the same. An accomplished quarterback who led Manatee to 39 wins and a state title in three seasons, Sandberg has already signed to play football at Mississippi State.

But he has become more renowned for what he has done, or can do, on a baseball field. A center fielder during his days

at Manatee High, Sandberg is ranked No. 56 of the draft's top 100 prospects by MLB.com.

The first day of draft consists of 73 picks.

You do the math.

"I'm sure a lot of teams will be interested," said Jonathan Mayo, a reporter for MLB.com who will be featured on MLB Network's draft coverage. "He has above average power, he's athletic ... ."

He also has a choice, and occasionally, teams are a bit hesitant to draft a player who already has a solid commitment to play another sport in college.

Then again, that didn't hurt Sarasota's Casey Kelly, a first-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2008 despite his commitment to play quarterback at Tennessee.

"The team that drafts him has to talk to him first -- and that's the job of the area scout -- to find the firmest sense of signability possible," said Mayo, who crafted MLB.com's list of the top 100 prospects. "It's up to the area scout to find out, 'How much is it going to take?' ... Sometimes, you get surprised, and all he wants to do is play baseball."

Sandberg's fire to play baseball was stoked last summer, when he was invited to the Perfect Game All-American Showcase in San Diego.

He always liked baseball. But it was then that Sandberg realized he had a chance to make a career of it.

"Being selected for that was quite an honor. To be picked to represent our coast, it was pretty cool," said Sandberg, who hit .418 this spring for Manatee. "After that, I thought I had a chance to do something baseballwise, and the draft could be a possibility.

"It's an exciting time."

Sandberg has since worked out for a dozen teams including the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays, but said he doesn't know who will call his name this week.

Mayo said he talked to a scouting director who said Sandberg could be a sandwich pick between the draft's first and second rounds or second and third rounds.

"There are some teams that like high school players more than others," Mayo said. "Last year, the Oakland A's took three high school hitters right off the bat. I think any number of teams will be interested, but whoever drafts (Sandberg) has to have patience. But it's just one pick; you can pick seven college guys and pick him in the midst of that. And he could be the guy who can go higher to a team with multiple picks, like the Rays, who haven't shied away from high school hitters in the past."

Despite all the hype and anticipation surrounding Sandberg, he said the pressure is very minimal. If the draft doesn't go his way, he can always head to Mississippi State and play college baseball and football.

"Basically, Mississippi State is my best offer right now, and I'm happy with the choice I made there," he said. "If that's how it works out, that's awesome."

If he does get picked, however, Sandberg isn't sure when he will make his decision. That will be another process altogether.

What he is sure of, however, is he is going to try and treat today like any other.

"I don't want to be glued to my TV set ... and you're waiting and waiting," Sandberg said, adding he plans on being at home with his family. "If you get a call, awesome. Then you can celebrate. But before I get a call, it's just going to be a regular day."

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