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Former Wolves taken in baseball draft
"Look out, Barry Bonds. Jason Ellison may be playing alongside you in the outfield in a couple years.I think (Bonds) will be around when I get up there, a confident Ellison said. I knew I was capable of doing well professionally. I just hope I'll get a fair shot to play and advance in the pros.That's the goal of the 1996 South Kitsap High School graduate after the San Francisco Giants selected the Lewis-Clark State College senior in the 22nd round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft this week.Jason Hammel, a 2000 South Kitsap graduate, was taken in the following round (23rd) by the Seattle Mariners.Ellison, a converted pitcher at LCSC, was a member of back-to-back national championship teams and this year hit .358 with six home runs and 53 runs batted in. He also scored 83 runs and was one double short of the team record with 28. And he swiped 22 bases.LCSC coach Ed Cheff said the centerfielder has the tools to go far professionally.There's not too many players that played better than him offensively this year, Cheff said. He's got great tools, he's a very accurate thrower, he's very articulate and intelligent. It's pretty hard to find that combination.Because he pitched for two years at Bellevue Community College, Ellison struggled at the plate until he earned the Most Valuable Player award at the college world series last year.Ellison said he wasn't surprised by his successful senior year.I wanted to improve my hitting from last year, he said. I knew I was capable of doing well. It just took some adapting.Ellison goes to Arizona for a week-long camp before he reports to rookie class A ball in Salem, Ore.As for making it to the big leagues, Ellison said he knows what he needs to do.I just hope it lasts forever, he said. I didn't come this far for nothing.Hammel hovered in obscurity this year, missing three starts because of rain. But it took only one prep game for the Mariners to see enough potential to take him..A Mariners scout and a Colorado Rockies scout came to see Captial's Skyler Fulton--a first-round projection--but it was the relief pitching of the gangly, 6-foot-5 Hammel that amazed the scouts, Hammel said.Ironically, Fulton fell all the way to the 25th round before the New York Mets drafted him.Not knowing the scouts were at that game, Hammel was in shock when he was approached by the scouts.I didn't know what to say, Hammel said. I was shaking so much. I didn't want to say anything dumb.The Mariners wanted one more look at him, so he was invited to a workout June 3 and threw about 20 pitches.Three days later, the Mariners selected him and will have him play at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Ore. The Ms retain his rights for a year in the draft-and-see program. After that year, they decide whether to sign him or give up his rights.It hasn't been all smiles for Hammel. He had to cope with the loss of his 47-year-old father, Bill Hammel, who died of a heart attack last December.Hammel's mother, Cathy, said she's proud of the way her son responded.Jason dedicated the season to his dad, Cathy said. When he got drafted, I said to him, 'Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Every day is something new.'Hammel said staying focused during the season enabled him to do well his senior year.I had my goals before my dad died, he said.Cathy said her son is still going about life the same way as always, though he must add some bulk to his skinny frame.He's quite unassuming and a humble young man, Cathy said. He's working at KMart and life just goes on. We're going to have to get him off the crackers and onto some lean meat.For Hammel, playing baseball for a living is a dream that started with a game of catch with his father. Then he started to dominate in Little League.By the age of 13 or 14, I thought this was an occupation I wouldn't mind doing someday, Hammel said. It's been my lifelong dream to just play Triple-A or Double-A ball.For now, Hammel will get some work in for the Poulsbo RV Boys of Summer baseball team that plays in Bellevue.It's far to play, but we play some tough teams and it's great just going back to work, he said."