High School Sports

Orioles draft Ranch catcher Ohlman

BRADENTON — Michael Ohlman has no Baltimore Orioles gear. But he may soon be investing in some. The Orioles selected the Lakewood Ranch standout catcher in the 11th round (326th overall pick) of the Major League Baseball 2009 First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday.

“It’s a lifelong dream,” said Ohlman, who’s committed to play at the University of Miami next season. “I’m just happy that this process has come to an end. Now, I’m going to see what happens with the signing process and whether I go to college or go pro.”

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Ohlman turned in a stellar senior season with the Mustangs. He had a whopping .550 batting average, three home runs, 28 RBIs and 23 stolen bases.

Furthermore, Ohlman gunned down 64 percent of base stealers this season and was named the Herald’s All-Area Baseball Player of the Year.

Ohlman said Orioles officials — who recently promoted top prospect and catcher Matt Wieters to the major leagues — told him they drafted him because there wasn’t a big backstop in their minor league system.

“(Wieters) is a couple of years ahead of me in the experience category,” Ohlman said. “I’ll be ready to step in if he leaves or whatever the case may be. If it all works out, it will be the perfect opportunity.”

Last week, Ohlman took a three-day, three-city workout tour auditioning for the Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers.

Lakewood Ranch coach Mike Mullen said Ohlman will make the most of any chance he’s given.

“What’s going to help him the greatest is his work ethic,” Mullen said. “He does everything you can possibly do with the game. With that work ethic, whether he’s playing baseball or selling insurance, he’s going to be successful.”

Ohlman wasn’t the only player from the area to have his name called on the second day of the draft.

Manatee Community College had two players selected Wednesday. Lancers third baseman Jonathan Rodriguez, a sophomore who has committed to Old Dominion, was picked in the 17th round (519th overall pick) by the St. Louis Cardinals. Freshman shortstop Taylor Wrenn went in the 25th round (756th overall pick) to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Cardinal Mooney star pitcher and fellow Herald All-Area first-team baseball selection Michael Heller was chosen by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 29th round (865th overall pick).

Pendleton School graduate John Ryan Murphy became the first player from Manatee County to be selected when the New York Yankees took him in the second round (76th overall pick) on Tuesday night.

But Wednesday was Ohlman’s day to receive the phone call he’s dreamed of all his life.

“I can look back and say that I have no regrets,” Ohlman said. “Lakewood Ranch was the perfect place for me. You don’t have to transfer to a state championship school, because if you are good, they’ll find you.”