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Cadets’ Jamari Baylor draws a walk in the first inning.

On Friday, Jamar Baylor drove to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, took batting practice and met the leadership of the Phillies franchise. The team had invited him there, and when the workout was over, the scouting director walked up to Baylor and began a conversation. They made chit-chat and talked about Baylor's right arm, which had been injured several months ago.

All of that, the invitation, the friendly conversation, was a sign, Baylor thought, that Philadelphia would draft him if it got the chance. 

"I had a gut feeling," Baylor said. "I knew they liked me a lot because of that invite."

When the third round of the Major League Baseball draft arrived Tuesday afternoon, the Phillies jumped, taking the Benedictine shortstop with the 91st overall pick. 

Before the week is over, Baylor will drive to Philadelphia, sign with the team and undergo a physical. While he declined to reveal how much money the Phillies promised him, he said it's a fair offer and that he expects to sign quickly. Major League Baseball suggests a value for every draft pick, and the 91st pick is worth $647,300 in its estimation. 

The fact that Baylor went 91st meant he landed near the top of predraft projections. While Perfect Game ranked him 77th, Baseball America pegged him as the 303rd best player in the draft, a ranking that would have put him in the 10th round had it been spot on. 

After his visit to Philadelphia, he'll head to Clearwater, Fla. to begin rookie ball. The Phillies haven't told him what position they envision him playing yet. Before the draft, some teams told him they saw him as a shortstop, others second base or third base, and one team even said it would like to move him to the outfield. 

Baylor hit .412 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs as a senior, and Benedictine won the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I state title. He previously played at Glen Allen and Deep Run but transferred to Benedictine in 2018 and reclassified. He had signed with Louisburg College in North Carolina but expressed an interest in playing professionally. 

He's the first Richmond-area high schooler to be taken in a high round of the baseball draft since Mills Godwin's Matt Moses went in the first round (23rd overall) to the Minnesota Twins in 2003. Last year, Seth Mayberry of Dinwiddie was taken in the 39th round by the San Diego Padres, and Mayberry signed with the franchise.

And yet Baylor is the second Benedictine alumnus to make a splash in a professional draft in two months. Football player Clelin Ferrell was selected fourth overall to the Oakland Raiders in April. 

It was Baylor's adviser who knew first. He called Baylor, who was in his living room with his family, watching the draft on the computer, to spread the good news. Everyone jumped up and cheered, and Baylor hugged his grandma. Next came a call from the local scout to say congratulations.

Baylor says he'll try to enjoy his last week at home, maybe go out to dinner, and he still has to pack two weeks' worth of clothing before he departs. And he might buy a Phillies hat when he's got the time.  

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Sports reporter

Eric Kolenich writes sports stories for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, focusing on local athletes and teams. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 2008 with a BA in English and joined the paper in 2009. (804) 649-6109

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