Rayborn makes camp before reporting to first assignment

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 17, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; Christopher Rayborn could watch the names roll of the Major League Baseball draft and not get the least bit nervous.

Actually, he spent the second day of the draft at the River City Baseball Camp at Adams Christian working with pitchers in the first day of the camp. It’s a little different this time to work the camp now that he’s a pro baseball player, and it makes those attending the camp open their eyes up a little bit wider.

Rayborn will work the camp this week with AC head coach Ron Rushing and former head coach Gill Morris before leaving Saturday to report to Arizona for his first assignment.

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&uot;It’s fun &045; a lot of them are real funny,&uot; Rayborn said. &uot;And everything you tell them, they want to exaggerate. It’s fun for them, and it’s fun for me. I try to teach them what I learned and start them at a young age.&uot;

It made for the draft to go by easier, one Rayborn could have entered had to turned down the San Diego Padres after they made him a draft-and-follow pick at this time last year. Instead, Rayborn signed last week just before the draft and watched the names come up Monday and Tuesday, particularly of his new team.

The Padres had the first overall pick in the draft, and they chose high school shortstop Matthew Bush out of California. The Padres didn’t have a second-round pick after yielding it to the Yankees in the David Wells trade but did pick a high school catcher in the third round.

The Padres didn’t get a pitcher until the sixth round when they got Jonathan Ellis out of The Citadel.

&uot;It makes me think they have a lot of confidence in me,&uot; Rayborn said. &uot;I’m pretty excited. I’m ready to get out there. I’ve got to start all over again the second time around. I’m ready to get out there and show them what I can do.&uot;

The former Adams Christian right-hander will report to Peoria, Ariz., to begin short-season Class A ball next week and join the team’s five-man starting rotation. The Peoria Padres will play 70 games in 77 days in rookie league ball with the season ending in early September.

From there Rayborn has a shot at moving up in the organization for the remainder of the season at the Class A team in Eugene, Ore., in a 21-and-over league.

But first things first, it’s on to rookie league ball.

&uot;I’ll face probably a lot of draft-and-follow guys like me and guys they just took the draft,&uot; Rayborn said. &uot;The guys who went first in the draft will be there with me. All I’ve got to do is prepare myself mentally. I took a few days off, and that’s what I wanted to do. But I’m ready to go and ready to get out there and see what it’s like.&uot;

Rayborn said he’s been in constant contact with Padres scout Bob Filotei, the scout who signed him following his last game with Meridian Community College at the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.

One thing Rayborn will adjust to at Peoria will be pitching to wooden bats on a regular basis. Gone are the days of facing aluminum bats that hitters can drive the ball considerably farther than with wooden bats.

But at the same time the competition will be significantly better than what he faced on a regular bases in the junior college ranks.

&uot;I think it’s going to be a lot better,&uot; Rayborn said. &uot;I pitch better against better teams and better talent. I work harder and get myself mentally prepared more. The way I pitch now really fits in good to the way you need to pitch in the major leagues. I pitch inside a lot and come outside.&uot;