Second Towson pitcher, Chapman, Padres pick

A second Towson University pitcher was among six more area players selected on the second day of Major League Baseball's amateur draft yesterday.

Right-hander Denny Chapman, an All-Metro pitcher at Centennial in 1997, was picked in the 29th round by the San Diego Padres. Chapman's teammate, left-handed pitcher Chris Russ (Atholton), was chosen in the third round by the Texas Rangers on Monday.


The Rangers took another college pitcher with local ties in McDonogh's Mike Steller, a redshirt junior at George Mason University. Steller, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound right-hander, was taken in round 39.

Two more local players also chosen yesterday were Severna Park pitcher Josh Banks and Howard-Dundalk Community College outfielder Tony Aceves. The Orioles tabbed Banks, All-Metro this year, in round 34, while the Florida Marlins drafted Aceves for a second straight year.


The Marlins selected Aceves in the 50th round after his 1999 All-Metro season, but didn't sign him before the current draft, with Aceves going back into the pool. Florida then drafted him in the 38th round yesterday.

The New York Mets took Calvert County High middle infielder Tony Coyne, a junior at Yale, in the 23rd round. Thomas Stone's Griffin Zarbrough, who pitched for Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala.. went to Tampa Bay in round 39 to bring the total of Marylanders chosen in 40 rounds to 12.

The 6-foot-5 Chapman was Howard County Player of the Year and All-Metro as a senior at Centennial after going 10-3 with 135 strikeouts in 80 innings. He signed with the University of Virginia, but left after two years to be closer to home at Towson.

"We knew Chris [Russ] would go pretty high and were confident that somebody would draft Denny, too, " said Towson coach Mike Gottlieb.

"Denny got better as the year went on. He got faster and more command of his curveball. A San Diego scout from Ohio saw him pitch at West Virginia and he threw 93 to 94 mph that day.

"No other cross-checkers or big scouts [who make the decisions] saw him this year, and if they had that day at West Virginia, he probably would have gone in the first five rounds."

Chapman was 5-3 for the Tigers this season.

Steller, who was 5-2 with a 1.83 ERA his senior year (1996) at McDonogh, pitched two seasons at George Mason and three games into his junior season (1999) before being redshirted for a rotator cuff injury.


Alabam-based Dr. James Andrews, who performed rotator surgery on the Chicago Cubs' Kerry Wood, did the same for the 6-3, 210-pound Steller.

"I'm back to nearly 100 percent, thanks to Dr. Andrews, " said Steller, a Pikesville resident.

"He [Andrews] did the rotator surgery, shrunk my shoulder capsule and repaired a small tear behind the rotator. I was ready in time for this season, although I had a subpar year (3-4)."

Steller, whose fast ball is in the high 80s to go with a slider and change-up, said, "it's up in the air" as to whether he will sign or not.

"If I don't sign, I might go back up to the Cape Cod [summer] league and then pitch my senior year at Mason, " said Steller.

The 6-foot-4 Banks was 9-0 with a 1.27 ERA for No. 2-ranked Severna Park this spring. He has a scholarship at Florida International University and isn't likely to give it up to sign with the Orioles.


Aceves, who batted .578 with a state-record 51 runs scored his senior year at Howard, batted better than .400 at Dundalk Community College this year.