The phone rang and on the other end was an ultimatum from a familiar voice.
Joey Curletta instantly became familiar with the business side of professional baseball and because of that phone call on Tuesday he is a Los Angeles Dodger.
“It’s a great opportunity and I am honored to be with such a great organization,” the recent Mountain Pointe graduate said. “It happened so fast. My dad got the call and wanted to know if I’d be willing to sign. It’s hard to believe.”
The call came from Ahwatukee Foothills resident Logan White, who is the scouting director for the Dodgers. He called Curletta’s father, Joe, and they wanted to see if the Mountain Pointe star would forgo his college commitment to Arizona and eventually sign a contract.
The answer was yes.
Soon thereafter, it was announced that the Dodgers selected outfielder Curletta in this sixth round with the 206th overall pick. He was one of two area players selected in the three-day event as former teammate Jordan Kipper was selected in the 30th round by the Phillies.
“There has been a lot of hard work, but it is just the beginning,” Curletta said. “I am going to work hard for them for taking a chance on me and make sure I deliver on it.”
Curletta worked out for the Dodgers on Sunday, taking batting practice at Dodgers Stadium while being timed in the 60-yard dash and throwing from his positions of first base and the outfield.
“It was amazing,” he said. “As an athlete you can block out stuff like that, but it was hard. Dodgers Stadium is big. Really big, and I loved every minute of it.”
Apparently, the Dodgers did as well.
Curletta’s stock with teams was a bit of an unknown considering he had such a monster year as a junior (.420, 21 home runs) and a down year as a senior (.360, 4 home runs) at the plate, but lit up the radar gun (94 to 95 mph).
Curletta, who will train in Arizona at the Dodgers complex in Glendale and most likely start out in the Arizona Rookie League, is surprisingly athletic at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, and the Dodgers saw enough in him to invest money in him now rather than letting him develop for three years in a quality college program like Arizona.
Pride coach Brandon Buck said Curletta’s development will be fun to watch.
“There is no one more athletic in this draft (from an Arizona high school standpoint),” Buck said before the draft. “They (the scouts) love his body and his athleticism, and when he hit in the low 90s their interest cranked up even more.”
With the uncertainty about his draft position, the Curlettas decided to keep it low-key heading into the second day of the draft with just family hanging out at the house.
“My dad wanted me to sign, my mom wanted me to go to college, and I wasn’t sure,” Curletta said. “When it happened everyone went nuts. I can’t wait to get it all started.”
Jordan Kipper’s selection by the Phillies has some history as his grandfather, Thorton, pitched for the Phillies from 1953-55. He went 3-4 with a save and a 5.27 ERA in 55 games, including three starts.
“It’s one of the things I thought of right away,” Jordan said. “It was great that they thought enough of me to draft me.”
Kipper was taken in the 39th round last year by the Dodgers so he made a significant jump on the draft board after one successful year at Arizona Central where he was 9-3 with a 2.78 ERA, including a no-hitter, in 14 starts and 15 games overall.
The question is whether or not he will head back to Central or move on to either the Phillies, or possibly a Division I school. Kipper’s father, Bruce, said Texas Christian and Houston have shown the most interest.
Philadelphia scouting director Marti Wolever is expected to see Kipper throw in the next week or so as the 6-5 right-hander is pitching for the Eau Claire Express in the Northwood League in Wisconsin.
“It is really hard to know right now,” Kipper said about possibly of turning pro. “I will come home soon and talk to my family about what the best thing would be for my development.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.